Death Penalty: Beginning Early Access Review
Something Fucking Unusual
I think Death Penalty: Beginning is trying to be funny. Maybe. It’s also very likely that it’s trying to be cool. Or maybe scary? I’m not entirely sure, but suffice it to say, it only succeeds at that first one – and likely not in the way it’s intending.
VI GAMES LLC decided to kick off 2017 with something we sure haven’t seen enough of – an open-world game with zombies. Why they didn’t decide to go for the full hat trick and throw some crafting in is beyond me. Instead, players are plopped into a giant desert, told to run towards giant numbers in the sky, and instructed on how to shoot zombies along the way. Riveting stuff.
Players take on the role of Alice, a secret agent crash-landed in the middle of the aforementioned giant desert. Her only contact is a man whose name is – and I’m entirely serious here – Hacker. You have to rely on this man, whose parents clearly hated him enough to give him that name, to plot an escape and leave the sweltering heat of Some Desert, USA. Oh, yeah, and there are zombies. And giant spiders.
Oh, and robots. Can’t forget those.
Death Penalty: Beginning is kind of a trainwreck if that much isn’t clear. It’s filled to the brim with hilariously inappropriate assets seemingly ripped from the Unity store, ill-fitting licensed (I hope) pop-punk, and some almost impressively bad performance issues. The icing on the cake is the hilariously awful voice acting. Thick Russian accents deliver some true, grade-A gems, such as Alice exclaiming, “seems there were some morons dumber than my slippers” to describe the presence of zombies. It’s almost a thing of janky, awful beauty.
It also doesn’t help that nothing really functions the way it’s intended to. I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be able to drive buggies around, but none of the buttons respond when you try to make them go. Sometimes, they don’t even start, and occasionally, they’ll just clip through the ground. Did I mention those buggies actually have a preset driver in them that the developer didn’t even bother to remove because it is most likely a straight up asset flip?
Oh, I’m also pretty sure players are supposed to be able to upgrade their weapons. There are “shelters” around the desert, which have workbenches to mess with your assault rifle on. But there’s no explanation on what the garbage dump of a menu does, what upgrading your weapons does, or how you even get around to upgrading them. But it really doesn’t matter, because zombies die in one or two hits to the head, and honestly, don’t move fast enough for you to just outrun them. Which is really for the best, because where your shots go is entirely unclear, and the “third-person” shooting camera is really more like “basically first-person but you can kind of see your character model in the corner if you look hard enough.”
“Death Penalty: Beginning is kind of a trainwreck if that much isn’t clear”
Death Penalty: Beginning is, from top to bottom, kind of an unmitigated garbage dump of a game. While I do think there’s a modicum of personality here (one mission objective involves lighting a patch of grass to form a giant middle finger to SOS for help,) that personality is usually one built on humor derived from second-hand embarrassment. Somebody likely thought this was a cool thing that was edgy and scary and humorous, but had a middle schooler’s definition of all those words. Oh, and a middle schooler’s game development talents, to boot.
Because, really, the scariest thing about this game is that the word “Beginning” is in the title. Few things are as terrifying as the concept of there being even more of this game being dumped onto Steam.
Worth Your Money: Probably Never
[A copy of the game was purchased by the reviewer for the purpose of this review.]