Developed by:Candygun Games Published by:Digital Reality Genre(s):
  • Survival Horror
  • Strategy
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$9.99 ESRB Rating:TEEN Players:1-4 Release date:July 6, 2011 Reviewed on:XBox 360

    Dead Block

    I love zombies. Well, not the actual zombies themselves but the media that includes them. I am all for zombie movies that have social commentary, zombie-themed comics (especially ones that lead to AMC TV shows), and video games that feature zombie dogs jumping through windows. I’ve seen Shawn of the Dead just as many times as Dawn of the Dead and I’m in the process of re-reading World War Z. Yes. I am a zombie fan. With all that being said, there is one type of zombie game I don’t like. Those are the zombie defense games. You know the ones that play like Robotron but with zombies. All you’re doing is standing in an arena (abandoned house, desolate street corner, etc.) and shooting at waves of zombies ad nauseam. This is why when I first heard of Dead Block, being a zombie defense game, I was a little skeptical of its entertainment value. After I saw a couple screenshots and watched a few trailers, I started to warm up to the title, but  after playing it for some time, I am happy to say that Dead Block will be added to my long list of great zombie media!

    Developed by Candygun Games, Dead Block is set in the U.S during the 1950s. This was back when Rock ‘n Roll was the latest musical craze. Apparently this craze led to an apocalyptic musical plague that turned the deceased into zombies. Gamers will take control of three survivors who must battle the zombies in order to make it through the night. There’s Mike Bacon, a chubby Boy Scout who smacks zombies with a frying pan, Jack Foster, a construction worker who packs a freeze gun, and Foxy Jones, a meter maid with a shotgun!

    As you can see, Dead Block screams B-movie fun. The “silliness” permeates the entire game and I, for one, enjoy it thoroughly. Each level is set up like an episode from a classic horror TV series, with each one starting with a narrated introduction. The levels themselves are different locations found in a typical 1950’s town. They rang from a modern family house, featuring a juke box and shag carpet, to a classic burger joint, complete with tile floors. Once the action starts, gamers are tasked with one of two goals; to kill a set number of zombies in order to activate a machine (the Zomb-O-Matic), or to find 3 pieces of musical equipment that’s later used to play the one Rock n’ Roll tune that can kill zombies. Of course the zombies aren’t going to just stand around while you rummage through abandon houses. You’ll have to board up windows and doorways in hopes of buying enough time to complete your tasks. This brings me to one of the first cool mechanics found in Dead Block. In order to board up the windows, gamers will have to destroy items within their environment to provide the materials. Virtually all visible furniture is destructible, that includes fixture like counters or kitchen sinks! Once you have what you need, walking over to a window/doorway and pressing “A” (X on the PS3) will start a mini-game. A meter will pop up with a sliding bar and indicators letting you know when to press A again. Timing your presses correctly leads to faster fortification, while missing your mark causes you precious seconds. This might not mean anything in the beginning of a level, but when you have zombies trying to break their way into a house, you’ll want to move quickly.

    In addition to breaking furniture, you’ll also need to search through many or all of the items in a given location. These searchable items can lead to more…uh…items that can be used to deter your shambling attackers. Like for instance, you can fix a TV by finding its antenna. Once placed on a TV, any nearby zombies will stop pursuing you to watch the tube. Finding coins can lead you to buying a soda (to restore health) or playing the jukebox (causing zombies to dance to death). Searching is also the way find materials used to build traps and upgrades for your weapons. Depending on your character of choice, your traps and weapons will vary. Foxy can build a barricade with a missile (yes a missile) taped to it. When the zombies break through, it will explode, killing any zombies in the vicinity. Jack can build a machine that freezes each zombie that passes through the window/doorway containing the trap. This trap actually serve two purposes; it can serve as a temporary barrier (the frozen zombie physically blocks the opening), or an easy way to kill zombies by shattering their frozen corpses.  Each character has 3 different traps types. Placing a trap starts another mini-game, where correct presses lead to faster installation. As for weapons, each character starts with a different one; Foxy has a baton, Jack has a hammer, and Mike has a ladle. If you want to do more damage, you’ll have to find better versions (there are 3 total) for each character. For instance, Foxy will find a bat as her second weapon and then a spiked bat as her 3rd. All of the items found are shared, so if I am playing as Mike and I find Foxy’s bat it will automatically appear in her hands. Each character also has upgradeable special moves. Mike can throw down a burger that attracts zombies. Upgraded to its fullest adds a stick of dynamite (think of the pipe bomb from Left 4 Dead). Foxy gets a taser gun that upgrades to a handgun and lastly to a shotgun. Jake can nail zombies to the floor with his nail gun which upgrades to a freeze gun, allowing him to freeze a room full of zombies.

    The last things to point out are the zombies themselves. They come in different shapes and sizes which require different tactics to eliminate them. Older zombies are weaker and can be killed quickly with melee damage. Other zombies have longer life bars and stronger attacks. Then there are special zombie types that have unique properties. For instance, Mike has a trap that can cover zombies in an infectious sludge. The infected zombie will slowly lose life over time and infect other zombies they come in contact with. However, there are zombies that wear space suits who are immune to the sludge, making the trap useless. Things can turn ugly if you were depending on that trap to cover your only means of escape!

    Candygun took all of these elements and wrapped them up into one nice gaming package. There is so much to think about when playing. Do I board up this room? What if there is something in there that I need? What trap should we use on what door? Should we even use a trap? In order to make it far in Dead Block, you’ll have to be able to make quick decisions. Almost every major action involves a mini-game. You’ll have to keep that in mind as time isn’t on your side. Just like in the movies, it’s easy to say “hey, there is only one zombie and he is far off. I have time to search this room”. Then all of a sudden when you come back to the hallway, there are like twenty zombies waiting for you. Not only that, but all of the items are shared. Using up the last plank on the wrong window could lead to a restart. You also have to pay attention to what zombies are banging on your door so that you’re not overwhelmed due to their different characteristics. Then there are the three main characters. Each one is good a certain jobs and bad at others. Mike is really weak but can search through things the fastest. Foxy is good with melee damage and her traps pack the most punch while Jack is great at breaking down items and placing strong fortifications. At the same time, Foxy isn’t good at making barricades and Jake takes the longest time to search for items. All of these factors help make Dead Block one giant puzzle that keeps changing with each level. Throw in the fact that you get points for almost everything you do and you have one addictive game on your hands. Which, of course, is awesome!

    With that being said, I did find some fault with Dead Block. Really, it just came down to verity in the mini-games. After going through the motions over and over to search for items in a given map, I started to burn out. The level of repetitive action is up there with the “tap this button a bunch of times to do this one thing” mechanic seen in a lot of games. To be fair, I did play this game non-stop when I first got the review code. So my burn out could have been due to overplaying. Either way, I felt a need to have a little more variety. The second thing I noticed is that there is no online play. The four player co-op is all done on the couch. I would have liked the option to play online and at home. Despite those things, my wife and I are having a great time playing Dead Block. We would even check the leader boards to see how we were stacking up to everyone else (we are in the top 10 on most maps and number one on the hotel map via Xbox Live as of this writing). If you’re a zombie fan, defense genre fan, or just love a good game, definitely check out Dead Block. You won’t regret it!



    Dead Block is a good time waiting to happen. Online play would have helped in this regard, but it doesn’t hinder the fun.



    The graphics are stylized and cartoony. A nice fit to the whole, campy experience.



    Everything sounds as it should. The score is limited but otherwise ok.

    What's New:


    The mixing of different elements makes this a great title in the defense genre.

    Replay Value:


    It’s the most addictive game I’ve played this year. Hopefully, Candygun will develop more maps, zombie types, and traps via DLC!

    Final Score:


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