The beauty of being an indie games journalist is getting to talk to people about what they experienced as a games developer on a project. I get to talk to developers about what it was like to make a game for the first time, and see where they improved. This helps me to build a relationship with that developer, and see how the games they make develop and grow over time, until eventually, hopefully, the developer is super competent and understands the medium greatly.
However, that means playing rough games occasionally, and Deadstone by Timeslip Softworks is definitely one of these. Placing you on Mars, with a very loose storyline, the main character is tasked with defending colonists from Martian zombies. And that’s what it is. A top-down tower defence game that controls like a dual-stick shooter, it shows promise.
However, promise is all it shows really. A solid idea, with the player levelling up and setting defences before each wave, the gameplay just doesn’t hold up. The guns have no weight to them, and the sound design makes them feel as if you’re firing a peashooter.
I was playing the game on a controller, and the controls felt loose and flighty, something that you definitely don’t want to have in a game of this type. Nothing is taught to you control wise, all the controls are taught through the keyboard and mouse, which is definitely not the ideal way to play.
Music is hardly present, and the art is definitely programmer art, but that’s not a bad thing. Deadstone definitely has it’s own charms, at least in the design of the game itself. The fusion of dual stick shooter and tower defence is interesting, and one I haven’t seen before. Adding on role-playing game elements to change the weapons your character can use, and the way that his stats are arranged makes it so that each player can play the game differently. It also includes local co-op, which is always something great to see.in a game like this.
Sadly, the way that the game controls and feels just isn’t there. Deadstone is definitely a game that has the right idea, but doesn’t execute it well enough for me to recommend it, at least not at it’s current $10 asking price. If it were to go down to $5, then maybe. But right now, give this one a miss.