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All of Us Are Dead Review

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All of Us Are Dead, the Korean television series, gained global interest and recognition when it launched on Netflix in 2022. It held the top spot on the streaming platform for over a month, but did you know it’s actually based on a popular webtoon of the same name?

Well that webtoon, released way back in 2009, inspired Korean developers IKINAGAMES to turn the goings on of the zombie horror into a video game. As such, the All of Us Are Dead universe has now spawned a visual novel that’s looking to draw in fans of the series and newcomers alike. Can All of Us Are Dead, the game, breathe new life into the well-trodden narrative, or is it a tired adaptation that’s bringing nothing fresh to the party?

All of Us Are Dead review 1
The All of Us Are Dead universe is on Xbox

I’m familiar with the webtoon and have seen the live-action series – twice – but I can safely say that the game certainly has something new to offer. It also lets itself down a bit too though, which I’ll explain in due course.

It begins as just a seemingly ordinary summer day in All of Us Are Dead, with the students of Hyosan High going about their regular learning schedule. That is until a distraught classmate barges in, behaving rather unusually and suffering from some kind of illness. She’s infected by a zombie virus, and soon, the school becomes plagued by more of her kind. With the disease spreading, those yet to be tainted must survive long enough to escape, be rescued, from this hellish scenario.

The writers have really fleshed out the original story, adding their own touches to an already engrossing zombie-filled horror. There are so many layers to the narrative that it’s tricky to know where to start. You’re not only getting to see how students and teachers behave in the midst of a crisis, but also how selfish desires and pure fear can put a strain on friendships. Much like The Walking Dead, the infected aren’t the only dangers when everything goes awry, with regular folk doing irrational things to save their own skin. 

It gets quite dark on occasion, and you will feel almost every death, which actually enhances the rare instances of joy, romance and humour. In the more action-packed sequences, a good job is done to describe what’s occurring alongside the still scenes, enabling you to imagine how it might play out in reality.

None of it matters should there be no connection to the characters at the heart of the survival adventure. Fortunately, the character development for what you’d traditionally consider the protagonist, On-jo, is consistently great, but those surrounding her are blessed with a similar treatment too. Whether it’s the badass Judo specialist Su-hyuk, the potty mouth senior Mi-jin, or the morally questionable PE teacher Jin-cheol, they will all leave their mark on you. Heck, the villainous Gui-nam is utterly detestable in every single appearance and that’s a credit to those who crafted his personality.

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The Walking Dead vibes?

In order to create more engagement and increase your investment in the narrative, there are choices to be made at certain junctures. These range from unimportant types like picking a snack, to critical ones that can actually lead to a ‘Game Over’, such as rashly changing the plan mid-course. After a premature demise though, I like how easy it is to get back into the thick of it via the storyboard timeline; this allows you to revisit different sections of each chapter at will. It’s especially useful when attempting to achieve all of the various endings, because following alternate paths is very straightforward.

Rather impressively, there’s well over ten hours of content for a single playthrough, and it seldom feels like a drag. It’s even longer if you throw the three little additional side stories and alternative endings into the mix. While the side stories are bereft of voiceovers, they’re still capable of satiating your inevitable thirst for more.

From an audio perspective, the voiceovers are done to a high standard by Korean actors – don’t worry, the text dialogue is in English – and suit the characters well. Great usage of background music helps set the scene for thrilling and sombre segments alike. Visually, the character designs are good, but it’s in the CGs and more gritty scenes that it truly excels. The grisly deaths and gloomy vibes are really captured brilliantly in the artwork, creating unforgettable moments.

So, where does it really falter? For the most part, it’s in the text translation that you’ll find the issues.

Unfortunately, throughout the whole of All of Us Are Dead, there are a fair few errors within the text-based English dialogue. I’m talking about misspellings and sentences that are difficult to fathom due to an incorrect usage of words. Translating from Korean to English is no easy task, but the number of obvious errors here is hard to overlook. Furthermore, a key decision making part in the latter stages has the choices labelled wrong, with the top option following the action stated on the bottom one and vice versa. 

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Staying faithful to the source material

Ultimately, the narrative of All of Us Are Dead stays pretty faithful to the original material, however there’s a lot more meat on the bones and the gruesome nature of the situation is conveyed excellently via the visuals. This makes it an enticing prospect, no matter whether you’re familiar with the story, or coming in without a clue. 

Despite the aforementioned translation errors, there are plenty of positive aspects to ensure that All of Us Are Dead is a very good visual novel and I highly recommend indulging in what’s on offer here.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • An excellent adaptation
  • Gritty, grim, and gruesome
  • Multiple endings and an easy to navigate storyboard
  • Character development
Cons:
  • Too many mistakes in the text
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, IKINAGAMES
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review), PC
  • Release date and price - 30 November 2023 | £16.74
James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>An excellent adaptation</li> <li>Gritty, grim, and gruesome</li> <li>Multiple endings and an easy to navigate storyboard</li> <li>Character development</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Too many mistakes in the text</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, IKINAGAMES</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review), PC <li>Release date and price - 30 November 2023 | £16.74</li> </ul>All of Us Are Dead Review
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