Death Road to Canada was initially set to release a few weeks back, but due to the tragic van attack over in Toronto, the developers thought that it would be in bad taste to release the game back then. Now, it’s finally upon us. The game is pegged as a randomly generated road trip action RPG, tethered to a concept that sees you fleeing Florida and moving to Canada to escape a zombie outbreak. It sounds bonkers, I know, but the end result is one that boasts some interesting mechanics and functionality throughout.
The game begins by allowing you to pick a leading role alongside a friend, with varying stats that can be generated as you please. From here, the game feeds you into the basics of play via a short and informative tutorial, that doesn’t tend to outstay its welcome. I don’t try to pretend that I’m a super skilled gamer, but I’m capable enough to stand my own ground in many a different genres. I say that, because even I died several times over in Death Road to Canada. Safe to say, you can expect to endure this, a lot.
Though, as with any game that centers around perma-death and random generation, death is pretty much a given. In fact, it’s every bit as integral to the game as living is. The aim of the game outside of getting to Canada, is surviving, though this is much tougher than it sounds. You’ll constantly need to resupply, be it fuel, health, food and so on and so forth. On top of this, you’ll also need to manage the stability of your character, as well as stay on the look out for new party members.
Fuel will naturally keep your vehicle fed and medicine will heal you of any damage, whereas food on the other hand, will up your strength. Death Road to Canada is surprisingly tense, like, really tense. The game has you constantly taking extra care regardless as to how you play, heightened once again by the notion of perma-death. When you take into account that supplies tend to diminish quite swiftly, it makes for some very edge-of-your-seat moments when you constantly find yourselves out and about, attempting to restock your materials.
The game allows you full control at all times, giving you the choice and freedom of selecting who you take on your “road trip” and who you leave behind. Characters that you will engage with vary greatly, from the arrogant to the caring, and from the carefree and to the troublemakers. These characters also come with unique skills too, ranging from a medic to a car mechanic, which is a nice touch indeed and adds to the complexity of the game. There’s a wide range of different weapons that you can utilize to fight the hordes of undead.
Each new map that you’re presented with throughout the course of the game will be slightly different to the last, but the core goal of gathering those all important materials is always of importance. If you do find that you run out of supplies, the aforementioned tension only rises to nail-biting degrees. For example, if you run out of fuel, you and your party will need make your way down the street on foot until you find a new vehicle. This leaves you wide open to attacks from not only the undead, but undesirable survivors too.
There’s a decent overarching upgrade system in place that enables you to make good use of perks and abilities, ultimately making consequent runs more fluid. It’s a well set system that doesn’t demand too much attention, an excellent design choice given how taxing the game can be at times. It’s worth pointing out that there’s a lot of text flying around the screen, which is almost like a game within the game. Additional characters will be conversing with you, giving you a choice of up to four answers, with varying consequences and rewards hitting your lap, based on your input.
Moving back to the varying locations, each of these will present you with a small panel of information; survival changes, undead swarm size, zombie aggression and time of day. This allows you to plan out your strategy accordingly beforehand. Sadly, regardless as to how prepared you are, Death Road to Canada has a tendency of hitting unfair difficulty spikes, often robbing you of a successful run along the way. It’s a blip in the grand scheme of things, but it certainly shaves away both immersion and enjoyment as a result.
Death Road to Canada’s controls are very easy to pick up and understand. Group this with the fluidity of play and there’s very little room for anything outside of human error (difficulty to the side) that you will endure. It helps that there’s a good sense of humor within, which helps to elevate this from completely serious, to fun loving. Praise also needs to go to the visuals and soundtrack, as well as the overall design. Collectively lending the game its unique identity in the process.
Death Road to Canada’s randomly generated content injects a great deal of replay value into the mix. This is further bolstered by its well developed functionality and charming allure. Unfortunately, tough difficulty spikes can often cheaply rob you of success, but even then, there’s no denying that this game remains fun, exciting and tense, throughout the entirety of play.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.