Dead End City Logo
Dead End City Icon
Dead End City

Developer: Pixel Licker

Publisher: eastasiasoft

  • Price: $14.99
  • Release Date: Feb 28, 2024
  • Number of Players: 1
  • Last on Sale: -
  • Lowest Historic Price: -
  • ESRB Rating: E10+ [Everyone 10+]
  • Watch this review on YouTube
    A thoroughly surprising and different take on the traditional vertically-scrolling arcade shooter

    While I’ve been a fan of many classic arcade genres over the years, there’s no denying that the vertically-scrolling shooter is one of the best represented out there in terms of quality. Whether just the more traditional shmup, the bullet hell flavor, or some other more creative takes out there, the genre has more variety than someone could assume merely looking at screen shots or footage from different games. 

    What stands out about Dead End City is that though it also shares some common DNA with its brethren, there’s also no denying that it simply feels different. As hard as it can be to believe that more than 40 years later someone can still create something that feels fresh, somehow they’ve pulled it off here, and at a budget price to boot. The differences start with the fact that instead of playing as a ship in the air, you’ll be a vehicle on the ground. While mechanically that doesn’t make for any real differences, it does introduce gameplay elements tied to the ground that help to alter your expectations and the enemies you’ll face. What’s also cool is that aside from more traditional shooter waves, and facing periodic bosses, there are also sections where you’ll move through cities, which simply play out differently as you face units on foot and more destructible elements on the screen which can work to distract you.

    What’s interesting, but admittedly hard to wrap your head around at first, is the lack of traditional power-ups as well as a screen-clearing bomb sort of attack. Instead you’ll be trying to grab fuel in various types of containers (which corresponds to how much they hold) and then different types of ammunition, whether more loose or in various boxes. Altering this traditional expectation does make for some excitement and sometimes more tense play, but it can also be tough to get used to at times, especially as you try to work out in what sections and situations you’ll get the most bang out of expending your ammo cache. 

    Bringing it all together, it’s a shooter that simply feels a bit different than just about anything else in the space I can think of, and that extends past just the Switch library. There is a cost to consider to the game being more unique, and that’s the fact that not all aspects of its design and execution may be the best out there. That said, if you’re a true genre fan I’d argue that the audacity of what it’s trying to pull off, completely denying the pull of conforming to traditional expectations, makes it absolutely worth checking out.

    Justin Nation, Score:
    Nindie Choice! [8.1]

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