Home Reviews 3.5/5 Review Road of Death Review

Road of Death Review


Another week and another Ratalaika Games offering comes limping over the horizon. Road of Death is billed as “a 2D shooter with elements of survival and rogue-like”. With doubts firmly in place whenever a game adds the word ‘rogue’ in the description, I set off into the wasteland to see what I could find. Dare you brave the Road of Death with me?

Narrative is not usually a strong point in these cheaper games that Ratalaika push out, and so it proves here. In fact, the story is just one screen of text – There’s been a nuclear accident, and now there are lots of weird creatures running about the place. However, there are also some things that need to be retrieved from the danger zone, so they need somebody with the skills – and the lack of imagination – to go in there and get them back. Step up soldier, it’s you!

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As you may be expecting by now, the graphical presentation of this game is very much on the retro end of the scale. The phrase “post apocalyptic pixel art” is included in the blurb, and that pretty much sums up the vibe here. The screen is viewed in a 2D perspective, and your little guy has to run about the place, avoiding the little critters who want to gnaw your face off, all as you perform various tasks. The soundtrack is pretty good as well, with a rock/metal soundtrack in the menus. While the main game screens are relatively quiet apart from gunfire and explosions, it is still up to snuff and performs its role adequately. 

Road of Death itself falls into two main sections when you get into a mission. First off, we have to touch on the combat side of things, making the most of a choice of operatives to take into the field, all with individual names, back stories and weapons that they like to use. I defaulted most of the time to Vlad, the soldier, as I found his shotgun the most use in tight areas, but there are other choices of character, all tooled up with firearms ranging from sniper rifles to grenade launchers. Finding someone to meet your needs is pretty straightforward. 

Once we have landed in the field (at a different location every time we die or restart, which helps keep things fresh) the combat plays out as twin-stick affair. As I’m sure you know by now, this means you run about with the left stick, while aiming your weapon with the right stick, allowing you to run left and shoot right, should you desire. There are a number of weapons carried by each little fellow as well; a pistol, a shotgun and a machine gun in the case of Vlad. They can (and will) run out of ammo, so you need to bear that in mind, aiming carefully before blazing away. Luckily, all the twin-stick tropes work very well here, and getting a nice conga line of monsters following you before shooting is a pretty good tactic. 

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Of course, the terrain makes it hard sometimes, as the baddies can and will hide in the trees, popping out as you get near to nibble on your ankles. You do have a knife that can be used if your ammo is depleted, but since it appears to have about as much effect on the monsters as one of Ken Dodd’s tickling sticks (ask your parents, kids) you are better off using your superior shoe leather and running away. 

The second part of the missions revolves around staying alive and completing the missions you are given. As you’d expect in such a hazardous environment, you need to stay on top of your health – and even your hunger – and the only way to patch yourself up is to pitch a tent. Yes, really – as well as being a monster shooting simulator, this seems like it fancies being a camping simulator. As long as there are no monsters nearby, you can pitch your tent, and in the safety of the canvas womb apply med kits to heal yourself, and even eat tins of stew to top up your belly. As you explore the world and either break or shoot various crates, you will find ammo, extra medkits and even food, so it’s worth exploring all over. 

In addition to all this, there is a day/night cycle in Road of Death, and when it is dark, it is really dark; you’ll need your flashlight. This helpfully points where the gun aims, so it can help with accuracy, but the flipside of the coin is that the old “run one way, shoot another” trick normally results in you running into a nest of monsters. Plus, you’ll need to change the battery frequently, and also the filter in your NBC suit. There is a lot going on besides the running and gunning. Oh, and don’t forget the objective you went in there with; like collecting documents or killing a certain number of enemies…

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All in all, Road of Death surprised me. I went in with low expectations, and, at first, they were all met. But, the more you play, the more the various mechanics will reveal themselves, as Road of Death turns into a surprisingly deep and involved little game. It is brutally hard – one death and you start the whole mission again – but the challenge actually acts as a spur to keep going. All things considered, you could do a lot worse than to take this one for a spin. 

Road of Death is available from the Xbox Store

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