Published on June 2nd, 2011 | by Derek Strickland, Contributor
XBLIG Preview: Dead Pixels
This is a hands-on Preview of an upcoming Xbox Live Indie Game entitled Dead Pixels. This game will be available soon on the XBLIG Marketplace. As this game is still in it’s development stages, the game itself may be subject to change or deviation, and the features listed below are based on the playtest build of Dead Pixels. In short, this game is an unfinished product and is still being refined and developed by CSR Studios.
From Can’t Strafe Right Studios (a.k.a. CSR Studios) comes a fantastic and memorable side-scrolling zombie survival shooter called Dead Pixels that has a classic bit-style that adds nostalgic value to the golden vintage days of NES gaming.
On start-up gamers will be treated with a vintage grindhouse-style opening scene straight from a drive-in movie theater reel from a B-movie flick in the early 1970’s. The scene displayed is also featured in the 2007 Tarantino/Rodriguez Grindhouse film, adding a sense of nostalgia for early Grindhouse films as well as a nod towards the 2007 film release.
The entire gameplay experience is accentuated by a sense of watching an old film reel–there are blotches and lines seen intermittently across the screen like you’d expect to see in an older film. These features have become staples in grindhouse films, and most of the gory, action-packed thrillfests contain these elements.
Gameplay also has a survivalist feel to it, as gamers must weigh their ammo carefully, and if they run out, they are forced to run (albeit quite slowly) from zombies or to use the melee jab attack with the B button. The controls are easy to use: RT shoots to the right, and LT shoots to the left, where B melees and Y brings up the in-game menu.
There is also an interactive Kill Combo meter that represents–in a stylish splash of blood–how many bonus kills a player can rack up. As the shotgun uses spray damage, the shots can hit multiple enemies at once. The proximity of the shot depends on the damage, a realistic feature since shotguns are close-range weapons. Although the shotgun is somewhat slow, it is very useful and timing your shots and making good use of your ammo is paramount to survival in this Xbox Indie zombie shooter.
Although there are many zombie-themed XBLIG titles out there on the marketplace today, this one is unique in that incorporates 2-D bit-style graphics and also utilizes a side-scroller mechanic with 3-D movement paths so players can move up, down, left and right. Movement is also important as it’s useful to dodge zombies and avoid them.
The zombies themselves are that of the normal slow-moving ghouls gamers have seen in countless horror movies. They are a bit strong as well, usually taking 2-3 shotgun blasts (depending on range) before dying. It’s possible to dodge a few here and there, but when they get in clumps it’s best to toss an explosive to destroy them or risk annihilation.
The music in the game is another quite impressive aspect–the fast-paced guitar solos and electric riffs imbibe a sense of horror and creepiness within players, and the solos are quite fitting with the gameplay. From the sound of it you’d definitely expect to be fighting hordes of undead monsters. The music also has a dark death-metal feel to it with it’s clipped and chopped picking, and is a perfect fit to this zombie survival shoot-em-up. The creepy guitar rendition of Moonlight Sonata in the trader shop is a nice touch as well.
Throughout gameplay players can loot stores and salvage useful items–ammo, weaponry, miscellaneous items like bottles of water and other valuables can be found randomly. Shops are also found intermittently through the game, and players can buy and sell goods such as ammo, weaponry, etc. After a particular store is looted, our zombie-slaying hero spray paints an X on the door to mark it as empty.
Players must be careful not to overload themselves as they have a limited amount of weight that can be carried, and each item has an appropriate weight value.
The weapons have unique stats such as DMG (damage), RNG (range), Fire Rate, Penetration, and Value. Each of these stats vary with different grades and types of weapons such as shotguns.
Overall the game is a fun and original Xbox Indie zombie shooter that makes use of appealing graphics, interactive weapon dynamics, and a survivalist shooter theme that reflects the true horror of a zombie apocalypse. This game is sure to please both horror movie fanatics and gamers alike, mashing the two into an affordable and enjoyable XBLIG package.