[Review] Deadly Days – Nintendo Switch

Written by Anna Karasik
  • Developer: Pixelsplit
  • Publisher: Assemble Entertainment
  • Release Date: 27/8/2020
  • Price:  £17.09 / $18.99
  • Review code provided by Assemble Entertainment

Introducing: Deadly Days Switch Review

Zombie games and rogue-lites have one thing in common: they’re pretty common. So, does this one stand out in the horde? Deadly Days just might, as it slips onto the Switch eShop with few issues to speak of, an overall cute vibe, and plenty of value to players who dare to take on this burger-fueled zombie apocalypse. 

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara”

The goal of this game is to shut down a burger factory which is causing people to turn into zombies. Starting with just two wee survivors (all of whom have names, but don’t get too attached…) and a school bus, you’ll embark on daily missions to gather supplies, weapons, and allies in order to grow strong enough to battle the growing hordes. Along the way, you’ll uncover the location of the factory – or die along the way.

This experience is nothing if not self-aware. From the get-go, an adorable zombie informs you that this is, indeed, a rogue-lite game in which you will “Game Over” a lot – and that is okay. Each death allows you to boost up helpful skill trees. By the way, all of this gruesomeness happens to the beat of lighthearted, Pixar-esque tunes. Fitting!

Have it your way

Skill trees are the tip of the iceberg. As mentioned earlier, each daily mission entails gathering loot, and working towards finding the Burger Factory. Before taking off, you’ll set up at the main base. Switching out and comparing the various weapons is important, but it can take quite some time late-game, as you make big hauls; this game could certainly have benefited from a little more bulk inventory management here. 

Taking up less time is the item and ability setup. There are many items, with some of them doing damage, and others supporting your survivors. For example, there are several drone items which fly above the fight and heal the party or hit zombies for you, and a cooldown ability that launches missiles at a selected section of the map. 

Finally, and least importantly, you can upgrade the base itself to gain lasting benefits – but few are game-changing. 

Weapons, items, and abilities can absolutely turn the tide of battles, though. Speaking of which…

Loot and scoot

Missions take place in a small map during a short timed period, which can be extended with skills. Once day turns to night, you can continue romping – but the undead will quickly grow too strong and numerous, and you won’t survive! Thankfully, you can rev up your trusty yellow school bus for a quick escape the moment your tasks are complete. 

During each mission, you’ll move a cursor around to click on homes, cars, apple trees, and bigger buildings, looting them for scrap, food, and weapons. Lootable objects have a light sparkle, which is a bit hard to see, especially in handheld. Some missions involve special objectives, like saving survivors or, of course, infiltrating a burger shop to further your overall mission. There aren’t any consequences to ditching before you complete all of the objectives, but there are unlockable perks to completing them. If nothing else, the list helps you know how many more major objects there are to loot. 

It’s here that the visuals and smooth animation shine, with these pixelated people bouncing to and fro, blasting rocket launchers, and ramming zombies with the school bus. The downside is that these pretty maps don’t have much variety – thematically, or otherwise; they all look like basic suburbs.

As the days pass by, hordes will get stronger, and different types of zombies will join their ranks. There are also peaceful days in which you can choose to take on a special perk, like gaining a survivor or leveling everyone up. 

Taking a long break from this game is no biggie, since there’s a helpful encyclopedia on the weapon and zombie types in the main menu. Meanwhile, those who want to hone their skills can take on a daily challenge, which imposes certain restrictions on your playthrough. 

Watch your back

The Switch port of Deadly Days suffers from one issue in particular, due to the nature of joy-con controls: delegating tasks to survivors can feel sluggish when there isn’t a mouse and keyboard at your command. Instead, you’re moving a cursor around and selecting what you’d like to loot – or aiming at zombies and pressing the bumper to attack. Touch controls would have been a great feature here, but that’s not supported. Adding to this, the characters have fairly poor pathfinding – often walking straight into buildings indefinitely if they’re in the way. In addition, the objective text is very small in handheld/desktop mode – a common PC-to-console carryover. 

Final moments

Looking at the repetitive format and simple visuals, it might be tempting to write this port off as overpriced – and perhaps, compared to some similar competitors, it technically is. However, it’s a surprising bang for your buck: addicting, replayable by nature, and blessedly easy to pick up, despite a sluggish control scheme. Not to mention, it’s just about the happiest zombie game on the market. 

Pros:

  • Tons of items, abilities
  • Replayable and addicting, not stale
  • Cute visuals, smooth animations

Cons:

  • Sluggish cursor
  • Tiny text
  • Simple pathfinding

Verdict
Deadly Days may be simple, but it does zombie rogue-lite well. Be prepared to have a healthy variety of items and zombies thrown at you over and over again – all in a lighthearted, quirky pixel world.

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