Dead Block

7.5 Overall Score
Graphics: 9/10
Gameplay: 7/10
Replayability: 7/10

Art Style | Humour | Traps | Fun Factor

Fiddly Searching | Repeated Music | No Online Multiplayer

Dead Block is an Xbox Live Arcade title, which offers a unique blend of a tower-defence and a third person shooter, with a puzzling element thrown into the mix. Now, no one is a stranger to the overworked zombie game, but Dead Block is very different to many of the countless, reworked titles out there.

Dead Block is set in 1950’s USA, and the story of the game is that the ‘rock-n-roll’ craze swept the country, which caused an apocalyptic musical plague to reanimate the dead. Strange, yes. Hilarious… yes. The background story integrates into each level, with your objective, most of the time, being to find three items hidden in the area you’re holding out: two amps, and a guitar. Once found, you have to rush over to your setup, and play a ‘ungodly beat’ in a button press sequence in order to vanquish the remaining zombies with the power of rock!

There are ten different single player levels to play through, placing you in different safe houses, including schools, and mansions, for you to hold out from the attacking horde. At the start of each stage, you are given the role of one of three characters: Jack – a beefy construction worker, Mike – a young boy scout with a passion for food, and Foxy – a, well, foxy meter maid. Each one has their own unique traps, as well as their own stat levels for three things: melee damage, search speed, and barricades. As you progress in a level, you’ll come across keys which open doors to release another character, once released, you are able to switch between the available characters. It is vital that you switch in order to speed up level completion, and build the best defence against the horde. Smashing all the furniture, and building strong barricades with Jack, searching quickly through the smashed furniture with Mike, then using the found resources to build strong traps with Foxy. Switching really is the key.

Traps are your main defence against the oncoming zombies, but in order to build them, resources need to be collected. To build a standard barricade, you need wood, luckily, this is very easy to come buy, and you can get plenty of it simply by smashing a few tables and chairs. But real, damaging traps require you to get some bolts. These are found inside various items scattered across the stage, such as boxes, tins, and toilet paper (don’t ask). To search these items, you simply look at it and press ‘A’. As simple as it sounds, it’s not always that easy, often you need to position yourself directly infront of the box to search it, time is valuable when you’ve countless zombies chasing you, and fiddling about trying to find the right position doesn’t help. But when you do manage to begin the search, you trigger a mini-game of sorts. If the item contains a bolt, you have to rapidly tap the left and right triggers to free it from the mess, if the item contains a coin, key, or steak, you have to move a hand over the item and press ‘A’, and if it contains a piece of the guitar setup, you have to press ‘A’ to stop a spinning wheel on the right piece to collect. Although only short, you can sometimes mess them up, even slightly tapping the left stick at the wrong time causes you to cancel the mini-game and walk away, which can be very frustrating. Considering there are so many items to search on each level, and you are given no hint as to where the key items are, constantly playing these mini-mini-games to replenish necessary resources can be a real pain, and can get quickly boring.

Once you’ve built up a substantial amount of resources, you can be done with the barricades, and start building some real traps. Constructing these traps is a simple job, selecting which to use using your d-pad, then simply holding down ‘A’ until a bar fills, it’s timing that really counts. There is a fairly wide variety of traps to choose from, each character has three very different traps, and can use them all at will. They’re also quite imaginative. For example, one of Mike’s traps is a step, that once stepped on, a toilet drops ‘waste’ from above, coating the zombie, and slowly deteriorating its health. Or another dropping construction hats onto zombies head, which, for some reason, causes zombies to start destroying furniture. You have to be very tactical with your traps, simply sticking the same trap everywhere will not help. Putting a specific trap at a busy window, or ‘recruting’ zombies to help you get more wood can be the key to beating the level at good speed.

Zombies come a’plenty in Dead Block. If you leave a single door, or window unguarded, you will be swarmed. Being stuck in a room with 20+ zombies, and even more blocking the doorways can be very frustrating indeed, but there are some very useful countermeasures which you can use. Each character has a special ability / item of sorts, which recharges over time. These are great for distracting zombies, as well as making them more vulnerable, and can get you out of the tightest of situations. Jack has a nail gun, which pins all the zombies in one area, to the floor, allowing you to make a quick escape. Mike has a burger, which lures all zombies around into it. And Foxy has a tazer, which simply electrocutes all zombies in her path. It’s tactical and little gameplay elements like this which make Dead Block such a neat little game.

The style of Dead Block is great, sleek and fitting cartoony graphics just add to the hilarity of the game. Character design has clearly been well thought through, and the clichéd characters look brilliant. The zombies are more humanoid than you’d expect, and some of the special zombie ideas are very clever. This game pulls off the comical style very well indeed.

Dead Block holds a great level of content for an 800MSP game, with 10 singleplayer, and 8 multiplayer levels which last around 30 minutes each, if you’re lucky enough to complete them on your first try. Plus there’s plenty of replay value, since some of the levels are simply zombie defence, and so it’s quite fun to replay them again with all the equipment at your disposal.

Multiplayer is also featured in Dead Block, but unfortunately, it is local co-op only. And so, I have not had the chance to try it out. I’m sure adding more real players into the mix would make Dead Block even more frustrating and hilarious.

Dead Block is a steal at 800MSP, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a tower defence game, or wants a break from monotonous zombie games. It’s great for when you have friends around, and just as great playing alone.


Author: JackBrommers View all posts by
Aspiring Community Manager / Games Journalist. Geek, Gamer, Gearhead, Figure Fanatic, Avid Competition Enterer and Non-Preachy Vegetarian. Follow me on Twitter: @JackBrommers or feel free to add me on Xbox: Pipboy V3 Eagerly waiting for: Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Arkham City, Soul Calibur V, Skullgirls