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Dead Man’s Diary Review

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The old nuclear war scenario has been used a fair bit in terms of being narrative fodder over the years. The arcades of the 1980’s played with Missile Command saving humankind from nuclear missions with a rollerball. Then of course there are the Fallout games which deal with the aftermath of a nuclear strike.

Dead Man’s Diary is very close to Fallout in that sense. It embraces a world in the aftermath of a nuclear attack, as you’ve been forced out from the relative safety of a bunker to fend for yourself in a cruel world. It’s not a game for the weak of heart, or for those who hate despair. But for survival fans, there is a lot to like. 

dead mans diary review 1
Head out into a cruel new world

The story focuses on a tale in which fifteen years ago a man fooled a world that was distracted by other problems, launching nuclear attacks across the globe. You play a survivor who has been holed up in a bunker for years, but food and supplies are very limited. It is left to you as the unlucky soul who has been forced out into the world to survive.

The premise is a good one and it’s always fun (strangely) to be knocking around in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s helped that the main thrust of the writing and direction is given by the protagonist in voice-over, however the writing isn’t the best and at times it feels a bit robotic or AI-lead. That protagonist comes over as not very likeable, especially when he’s wisecracking and whining. But the main thrust of the narrative and notes found dotted around left me intrigued about what was happening. It’s that which will see you continue on playing. 

Gameplay is set in the first person, working mainly as a survival game and exploration adventure. You can move, run with limited stamina and have a small jump. You are also armed – initially – with a torch, with batteries that will run out. And as you get out of the forest you landed in, you enter a industrial wasteland. Left to survive.

This place ain’t safe.

Your basic needs are food and water. These are dotted around the areas in cases; unlocked and locked. You first need to find a Geiger counter to search each item to see if it’s contaminated or not. Every item needs this doing to it and some might find this a bit of a chore. There are lots of locked boxes too – and these need picking, which is a thing we gamers have gotten used to over the years. 

Then there is the radiation which is all around. It’s everywhere and so you need to keep taking iodine tablets to stop getting too ill. If you are outside in the rain there’s also the chance you can get too contaminated, so you need to find shelter and time your outside excursions from place to place carefully. To make matters worse, you might even get a fever that also needs meds for treatment. Survival is key to Dead Man’s Diary and you will be forever looting and crafting. 

There’s a sort of semi-open world in play, but really that is full with loads of invisible walls. You get to build up an area like a village or a settlement, left to work resources for a fire and a camp to rest. At the same time, there might be enemies to avoid; like a bear on the prowl. Thankfully save points are quite generous and when you die it doesn’t feel like an awful drag. 

dead mans diary review 3
At times, Dead Man’s Diary can look half decent

Visuals are good, at least in the daytime with some decent design in the buildings and overgrown decay. The lighting is impressive and at times Dead Man’s Diary can look quite beautiful. However, it does feel like there is some overuse of assets at times and you’ll quite possibly want some variety to what you are seeing. It’s similar in terms of the audio – the soundtrack has some nice moments of suspense and the effects are quite creepy, but the voice over is just not quite right. 

It’ll be the story and world that keep you going in Dead Man’s Diary, even if things do get a bit familiar. But then, there are problems with the writing and the monotony of the survival mechanics. And even though there are a good few hours of play here, the price seems a tad too high.

That said, if you fancy a new survival challenge and love a nuclear wasteland then it’s possibly worth experiencing the tales of the Dead Man’s Diary.

 

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • The daytime lighting
  • Story and atmosphere
  • Strangely, it's all quite relaxing
Cons:
  • Mechanics get samey
  • Writing
  • The main character voice over
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : TML Studios
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review)
  • Release date and price - 12 July 2023 | £24.99
Gareth Brierley
Gareth Brierleyhttp://www.garethbrierley.co.uk
I am an actor and a writer. I act quite a bit on stage, a little bit on tv and never on tuesdays. I have had some of my writing published and have written for TV and stage. I have been playing games since they begun and don't seem to be getting any better.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>The daytime lighting</li> <li>Story and atmosphere</li> <li>Strangely, it's all quite relaxing</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Mechanics get samey</li> <li>Writing</li> <li>The main character voice over</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to : TML Studios</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review) <li>Release date and price - 12 July 2023 | £24.99</li> </ul>Dead Man's Diary Review
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