STAFF REVIEW of Death Road To Canada (Xbox One)


Saturday, July 7, 2018.
by Royce Dean

Death Road To Canada Box art Your alarm goes off. It’s finally here. Hurriedly you climb out of bed and wake up the rest of the family. Everyone needs to shower and eat a quick breakfast before your friend down the road arrives to pick everyone up. It's vacation time! Bags... check! Passports... check! Kevin... check! Everything is here, let’s roll! You arrive on time, and with plenty to spare. The line to check-in was long but painless and now all there is to do is wait until the plane is ready for you to board. But then it hits you... oh no. Oh no no no! You’ve forgotten something. Many somethings. The sun roof of your car is still sitting wide open and there’s rain in the forecast. You didn’t let the dog out before you left and all of the ovens burners are still on. This is a disaster. Now anxiety and worry will ruin everything.

This is why I don’t travel much. My mind always filled with the worst of possibilities when it comes time to leave my things over a prolonged period of time. How do I know that my enemies haven’t been scoping out my place for the past seventeen months just waiting for the perfect time to strike and leave crude graffiti on the front door? Of course my mind might be changed in the context of a zombie apocalypse. Then again I already live in Canada, and apparently we don’t have zombies. We have a strict no hozer policy in the great white north.

In Death Road to Canada you play as a desperate American citizen trying to escape from the balmy state of Florida and the onslaught of... current events. By that I mean Zombies, what else? This Oregon Trail homage has you hitting the road, assembling a party and hopefully surviving the danger filled voyage to your new home and native land. The name of the game is asset management because without adequate food, fuel, medical supplies and ammunition, your journey will be a very, very short one.


Right from the get go you can make this adventure truly your own with the custom character creator. You can randomize a character if you so choose, but making up characters has been made very easy. Given Death Road to Canada’s simple style there isn’t an overwhelming number of options you need to concern yourself over. There are plenty of visual options for you to scroll through, including the gender of your character, body type, skin colour, hats, glasses and clothes; but these are all superficial. The things that actually change the way you play come in the form of “Perks” and “Traits”.

Perks represent a sort of character class, and there are plenty to choose from. If you choose to be a Mechanic, you’ll be handy to have in case of car problems... of which there are many. Should you opt to be a Surgeon you’ll be your group’s go-to for scrapes and ouches... of which there are many. If you pick the Warrior then you are the face on the front line fighting Zombies... of which there are many. Traits change how your character interacts with the world and can either make you even better at being the class you chose, or help you diversify your skill set. Some traits include Paranoid which helps you detect danger easily, but makes you a tad obnoxious to those around you. If you’re Charming you may just get free stuff from traders you come across in the world. And, if you’re a Friend of Dogs, you can have rare puppers fight at your side. Such effective. Wow. Very want.

Gameplay alternates between action sequences where you’re exploring towns in search of supplies like food and medicine while fending off zombie marauders, and traveling which is done mostly automatically with some input by the player when important decisions need to be made. Time progresses while you’re rummaging for useful tools in towns, as such more and more zombies will continue to wander your way the longer you take to get in and get out. There is no “killing all the bad guys” in Death Road to Canada.


When you make a stop it’s best to do what you can as quickly as possible then hightail it out outta there. Prioritizing specific supplies can be difficult as you are rustling through whatever desk, drawer and fridge that you can. Fortunately you can exchange surplus items for things you may be short on when you bump into the periodic trader. As you travel you’ll also come across stranded individuals who may be in need of your aid, and with the right motivations, may be willing to join your cause. Up to four people can be in your party, and the more you have with you the easier beating back the zombie menace will become. Just ask anyone that’s been a server at an early-bird special. Some of these recruitable characters are unique in nature and even pay reference to other famous video game characters.

Between stops your party will be out on the open road. Maintaining a supply of fuel is important for both hasty travel and general safety. Without a vehicle, the obstacles your party will have to overcome while travelling become more dangerous. You’ll be exposed to the elements, wandering bandits and even go through your supply of food and medicines more quickly. Then, inevitably you’ll be forced to find another vehicle in a city packed with zombies, the dangers of which are self-explanatory. While travelling you’ll be faced with any number of crazy events to overcome, and making your best judgement call is what everything eventually boils down to. Bigger risks generally mean bigger reward, but bigger danger, while playing it safe may lead you down a path where you eventually bleed yourself dry of everything useful. It’s too bad a psychic isn’t one of those playable classes.


As you play you’ll earn ZP, or Zombie Points. Zombie Points can be used to buy various power ups that make new adventures in Death Road to Canada easier. These can be purchased from the menu screen and include increased bonuses to character perks, and even brand new character traits. Using ZP to unlock bonuses from the garden gnome character Gnomey gives you a load of new ways to earn ZP faster than you would have before, so, if you’re one of those efficient completionist gamer types then you may want to get all of his goodies first.

As seems to be a tradition with the Indie genre, Death Road to Canada is a game all about pixel art. That isn’t a bad thing though, quite the opposite especially given its relationship to the Dysentery Trail. Actually, the entire game is presented in a way that’s hilariously contrary to the themes of the game. There’s plenty of bright color to be had, but not so much that it drowns out the yucky nature of a zombie apocalypse. The humorous writing and wacky characters also help to lighten the tone, but Death Road to Canada really finds its presentational stride in its music. Imagine if Night of the Living Dead was overlaid with the music from Grease. That’s right, we have an over the top 70’s diner, drive-in’s, and drudges situation, and it’s right on the money.

Zombie games in general aren’t normally my cup of tea, but Death Road to Canada is no normal zombie game. It’s a game that is not only well built, but has fun and doesn’t ever take itself too seriously. Randomized events, zany characters both prebuilt and of your own device, and an upbeat soundtrack that keeps you combing your pompadour even when hit by a rotten streak of luck (like getting killed by the evil spirit in a Ouija board of which I’m not at all still salty about) make up for an awesome package that is well worth the money. If you have a couple hours to kill, love zombies, or even have a soft spot in your heart for a certain old classic that killed players with violent diarrhea, then Death Road to Canada should be on your bucket list.




Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.5 / 10

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