One of the reasons I don’t usually review games I haven’t particularly enjoyed is that I often can’t be bothered to properly play them, let alone take the time to actually write the review. Apparently then, Dead Meets Lead is quite an exception. I never particularly enjoyed it, didn’t play it exhaustively, yet here I am writing about it. Why? Because it does have some redeeming features, you see.
Dead Meets Lead is -at heart- an indie and definitely innovative arena shooter, that might not feature much shooting, but does try to make up for it by sporting both pirates and zombies. Sadly though, innovation isn’t a priori a good thing; some things haven’t been attempted for the simple reason that they just don’t work. Melee arena combat is apparently one of those ideas. Then again, things could have been better if the controls, the camera and the hits each enemy can take were balanced in a better way, but this is not the case. Enemies can take ages to defeat, more often than not the action takes place hidden behind a building or something, and the WASD-mouse combination isn’t ideal for sword-based arena shooters. Oh, and don’t get me started on the zombies that restrict your movement by ensnaring you in the most frustrating of ways…
To the game’s defense though one could add that by featuring a shotgun it does turn itself into a rather lovely yet more traditional arena-shooter. One would of course be only partly correct, as the ammunition for the shotgun (and the rest of the firearms that are eventually unlocked) is far too sparse and in certain levels simply absent, which is a crying shame. Shooting the zombie hordes as a cursed pirate on a bleak exotic island is immensely enjoyable and goes on to show how great Dead Meets Lead could have been; especially if it had bothered to include a few save-points in its brutally hard levels.
Sadly, as it is, all it manages is to more or less waste the potential its setting, plot, graphics, music, interesting upgrade mechanics and overall polish had created. Still, I’m pretty sure that you dear reader might just enjoy Dead Meets Lead more than I did. Guess you should have a look then; click here. The demo should help you decide whether this is for you or not.
Verdict: A quality indie production with some interesting touches, that has sadly been let down by its core gameplay mechanic.
Update: The game has since gone freeware: Here is the statement from their website:
We’ve had a great time with Dead Meets Lead, but since we’re shutting down operations (or rather, they’ve been down for a while now) we’d like to do one last thing for the community. Starting from today, we’re making Dead Meets Lead a freeware so that those who haven’t tried the game yet get a chance to play it too. Everyone is free to download and play the game, just use the product key below and go to the download section to get your copy. Hope you’ll have a good time with the Captain and his adventures!