Dead Sky Review

Dead dry.

You're down to your last clip of ammo. The plan was to make it to the train station just ahead and hold out until help came. But your comrades have already fallen. Poor Billy. Poor Sarah. The despair of the zombie apocalypse had been the catalyst they needed to confess their feelings for one another. If you can hit that next shambler in the head, you may just be able to make the sprint to safety, for now.

Sadly, Dead Sky cannot properly capture the inherent dread of such a scenario. When you think of survival shooters, and zombie games in general, you expect a little suspense and tension, and actual fear of death. Unfortunately, Dead Sky is just masquerading as a survival shooter. Instead, it is a fledgling tower defense game that never grows out of its daydreams of being anything more.

You cannot fail this mission, no matter how hard you try.

The game's menu greets you with ill-suited blaring rock music that doesn't fit the tone of the game that follows. (When you're trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, your first step is probably not to turn on a soaring guitar solo to draw attention to yourself and your roving gang of gunmen.) The single-player campaign is a quick six-mission distraction to introduce you to the core multiplayer action, with only two missions actually reflecting that core experience. The game opens up with you defending your buddy's escape plan (his car) from a meager offering of slow-moving, mostly nonthreatening undead.

Once the car starts, you must drive away on a long street littered with zombies just waiting for you to plow them over. The mission is failable, but only if you come to a complete stop. And though the road is winding, you can drive straight until the very end for one final turn in order to beat the stage. Once you come to the end of the street, the game introduces you to a caricature hillbilly who tinkers in scrap metal (the game's resource) in order to turn it into more usable forms, like a gun turret or a strange bug zapper that stuns the encroaching zombie horde. Wyatt, the aforementioned redneck, isn't a humorous portrayal at all; he's simply an overacted representation of Southern stereotypes. This character is grating, and he's present throughout the multiplayer game.

Not even the flashlight can help you see a reason to keep playing this game.

The campaign attempts to get to survival shooter roots with a trip through the zombie-infested sewers, but because the zombies are uniformly spaced apart, there's almost no tension in the journey. The sewers play more like an attempt at capturing the gameplay of an action role-playing game like Diablo or Torchlight (minus any exciting character skills) than a shooter, and the randomized weapon drops further push the game in that direction. You don't find weapons in preset locations; they drop randomly from the zombies. Their temporary boost in power is great, except that the amazing power of the rocket launcher and railgun is wasted in a sewer with no more than two to three zombies approaching you at a time. There's no epic carnage or cathartic mega-corpse explosion extravaganza.

Once you've completed the introductory campaign, the game pats you on the back and instructs you to try out multiplayer. "OK, let's go!" you think to yourself, as you click Join Game. But, alas, you see naught but "Finding lobbies..." on your screen. "No problem, I'll check again in a minute." You keep telling yourself someone will host a game soon. And finally, a game appears. You click to join. But a fate far scarier than the game's tepid zombies slaps you in the face: "Failed to connect."

The random monster selection can make your otherwise fine defense arrangement useless, because you cannot prepare ahead of time.

Should you be lucky enough to find a game, you either must defend a building, or simply stay alive. You start with a bit of scrap metal you can use to upgrade your trusty pistol or purchase a few stationary defenses, which come in handy when you end up settling for a solo attempt on one of the maps intended for multiple players.

The multiplayer maps don't have a final objective, but instead require you to survive or to defend the objective for as many waves as you can. Zombies randomly drop machine guns or shotguns for you to wield, but since you have limited ammo and no ability to stockpile weapons for later, they don't change combat for long. Once you pick up a new weapon, you can't switch back to your pistol or to a separate weapon, which greatly drags down the shooter aspects of the game.

There aren't many people to compete with on the leaderboards.

The shallow shooting might have been more serviceable if the tower defense elements had been fleshed out, but unfortunately, you have only three tower options: a gun turret, a flame turret, and the bug zapper. Other static defenses include a very fragile wall, a bear trap to snare a single zombie, and a mine to clear out a few zombies at once, but to purchase any of these ineffective tools is to throw your scrap metal away. You also have the option to upgrade your character with better offense, defense, or support capabilities, but these upgrade costs quickly outscale the amount of scrap metal you're getting once you consider the upkeep and replacements necessary for your turrets.

Last stand!

The "stronger" monsters that assault you starting in the second round are randomly generated. In some games you may encounter just a few zombie dogs and zombies with burning attacks, but other attempts at the game may unleash a legion of explosive gas zombies or zombies that pull you out of your comfort zone and into a group to maul you. The random monster selection can make your otherwise fine defense arrangement useless, because you cannot prepare ahead of time.

Dead Sky's only saving grace is its inclusion of a leaderboard that lets you see how your attempts fare when stacked against the others defending Wyatt's backwoods cabin or the abandoned wastelands village. Otherwise, everything that Dead Sky does or tries to do, other games do far better. There's little room to experiment from game to game, and there's only so long that fighting to have your name ranked among the few hundred other zombie slayers can keep you grinding in this poor excuse for a tower defense game.

Did you enjoy this review?

Sign In to Upvote
The Good
N/A
The Bad
Gun and tower choices are extremely limited
Random monster selection can be frustrating
Low in-game population makes map selection even more limited
Minute time between rounds gives little room to prepare for the next wave
2
Terrible
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Tyler Hicks typically defends towers in League of Legends but took a break to instead defend himself in Dead Sky. He's now in the top 20 on the leaderboards for single-player attempts on every map in Dead Sky.
12 comments
sunbeam4
sunbeam4

glad I didn't jump on it. looks nice from a far, with some kind of variety to it. but you do see shallowness of it from up close. shame it wasn't given more dev time. wasted potential :(

thanks for the review anyways. much appreciated. I'll read the full review a bit later.


shenhua1337
shenhua1337

Oh, too bad this game isn't: Indie + 8bit graphics + lack of gameplay + some quasi-philosophical out of mundane things like "make a jagged circle out of pixelated squares" + is on the level of most time filling BROWSER games...

Cause then, gamespot would give the usual overrated mark.

Clearly these guys tried in some departments but they can't match such masterp(o)ses like:


bit.trip presents runner2 future legend... (talking about failing at naming a game) - 9
The Stanley Parable - 9
Antichamber - 8.5
Angry Birds space - 8

Starseed Pilgrim - 8
Papers please - 8
Intake - 8
Mutant Mudds - 7.5

Gunpoint - 7.5
Bleed - 7.5
Fist Puncher - 7.5
They Bleed Pixels - 7
Home - 7
Full Bore - 7
Little Inferno - 7
140 - 7

Meanwhile:
Deus Ex HR ONLY 8(!)... oh well look above what's better than Deus frelling EX!
How about Battlefield 4? Well guys, you should've tried better, surely your game doesn't deserve as much as some bit trip shizzle.
Oh and you, Bioshock Infinite, we're gonna give you... 5! Haha! How you like that? Gameloid at it's best... just check any other game that actually had decent money, work and effort invested in... sorry dude, better make 8bit shizzle or boring "esoterical" games or even dull arcades like Intake or 140...

Not saying that those games from first list are worse than this one... but Gamespot rating is a running joke these days. I guess they want to send a clear message to developers: Hey guys, this is Gameloid, STOP making AAA titles... go back to making Indie games one can write in a weekend. Thanks. We at Gameloid are so proud to guide gaming into the right direction.

Anyway... I guess it's just that rating at Gameloid is just for laughs. They prolly don't even know math anyway :<

thom_maytees
thom_maytees

The second game with a 2/10 score in the last several days. This is something I have not seen before at GameSpot.

Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Is there something wrong with some of the screenshots, or is the game's visual designs really that all over the place?

ahpuck
ahpuck

They don't rate games against each other, if that is what you're implying.

Planeforger
Planeforger

Many of the games you listed were great. Antichamber and The Stanley Parable definitely deserve to be listed among the best games of the year - they're ingenious titles that raise the bar *very* highly for first-person 'puzzle' games. Hell, indie titles in general have been rocking it this year.

Meanwhile...well, Deus Ex: Human Revolution was kind of crap compared to the original, and was severely brought down by immersion-shattering cutscenes (*every* time you knocked out an enemy!), an astonishingly dumb plot, cardboard characters, awful boss fights, and a weak 'pick and ending' sequence. It was a fine game, but I don't see how it could get anything more than an 8 under those very noticeable flaws.

As for Bioshock Infinite, the gameplay was exceptionally lazy (even when compared with the original Bioshock, which already had weak 'floaty' bullet-sponge-filled combat), the characters were walking cliches with very little personality, the setting added nothing to the plot (for example, the whole civil rights movement stuff gets completely dropped by the third act), and the plot is one massive spiderweb of plot holes when you really think about it (and that's not even counting the fact that, as with the first Bioshock, other games did the same twists first. And better). I could see a 5 being justified. The game simply wasn't great in any particular way.

Anyway, I think you'll find that if you actually *play* these indie titles, you'll see why they get the highest praise from both gamers and reviewers. The previous console generation was completely out of fresh ideas, and their AAA titles suffered for it. Meanwhile, great indie titles are coming up with new (and genuinely great) ideas just about every single week of every year lately. I definitely know what I'd rather play.

shenhua1337
shenhua1337

@Planeforger You're missing the point.

I did say that some of those games have good sides. But they are NO WAY 9/10. No way in hell. Even if you make a game with perfect gameplay... with NO sound or graphics that can't possibly make that a 10/10 game. That simply defies logic. Ergo while some of those high rated games you praise are not bad they simply look like turds and it's 2013 so any kid with a PC could design it better. That's a fact. Being lazy or trying to be "hip" by making it look sloppy (or a mix of the two) is simply insulting.

I like Indie games but I look at them as I look at any other games. I also realize that I could write tetris over a weekend and Mario bros over a month (some could do it faster). And games like Intake or Angry Birds or even your Antichamber fit the space of Phone/Browser and perhaps even social games on facebook. Those are not SERIOUS games. Face it. Take off the pink glasses and face reality. Not to mention that again, games like Antichamber are highly niche games which ppl who don't really like the idea presented by the game will find completely NOTHING interesting about that game. Meaning the game again is not legendary because there's only a narrow group of people who can actually enjoy it. And that's by design.

If you want an ultimate Indy experience, instead of going with the "Indie posers of 2013" for mindless sheeplings who are lying to themselves they're hip and support "the devs" by playing Indie games, much as an iTool thinks he's unique and special because he has the same iPhone as all the other sheep. Then you should try some old school games. Maybe some Abadonware if you want. You'd learn sth about the history of gaming (And I do play games for couple of decades already) and you'd know that Indie is how games used to be made, by small group of people, hell, even by one dude at college over weekends.

And you'll find much better games than this fake crap they release today for the Fake-Indie Sheeplings. Incidentally if you compare the rating of games that have reshaped the history of games two decades ago you'll see that current Fake-Indie Turds, with graphics sometimes inferior to those (from artistic perspective and at times even from technical) scored LOWER marks on Gamespot.

Out of this World was one of the most unique Indie games made by one dude. That was over TWO DECADES ago... And now you're trying to push some bs on me to tell me that THIS (Games from the list not Dead Sky) is supposedly Legendary because it plays on retro sentiments? Gimme a break.

Dead Sky More Info

Follow
  • First Released
    released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • Unix/Linux
    Dead Sky is an action-packed survival shooter that ties in several strategic tower defense elements.
    0
    Average Rating0 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Dead Sky
    Developed by:
    Shorebound Studios
    Published by:
    Shorebound Studios
    Genre(s):
    Action