Table top games, is a sparsely populated genre in the console space. Developer Radiation Burn is one of the few teams trying to remedy this with their 2016 title “The Living Dungeon” and returning once again with a zombie themed card game of strategy, deceit, base management and survival. So, is Dead Exit just another shot to the head, or a true apocalyptic survivalist in an already bloody and saturated setting.
Dead Exit is a turn based, table top card game, where the aim is for you to survive at your base and then leave the dead infested city as fast as possible by stockpiling as much food, fuel and survivors as possible whilst finding a vehicle along the way to make your escape. You can work with other players to reach this goal co-operatively or use cunning and deceit to let your adversaries get overrun as you go for all out glory at the cost of everyone else.
Upon launching, you are met with the backdrop of a ruined city and an urban rooftop set-up with a makeshift table of oil drums and pallets covered with a blue tarpaulin. It will be upon this table where all your games will be played, whether it be any of the three solitaire modes of City Escape, Survival and War or the two multiplayer modes which offer local or online play.
The deck you play with contains multiple double-sided card types which are resources, survivors and vehicles that are all essential to victory as well as stop cards which can be played at any time (even when it isn’t your turn), “dead” zombie cards which will invade your base and kill survivors, “Plan” cards which can be very beneficial to all players in the game if played that way and finally the joker type “event” cards which if uncovered are forced into play for everyone, usually to the detriment of all players.
City Escape is the bread and butter of Dead Exit, collect resources, control up to three bases and survive the hordes by making strategic decisions and hoping your in luck with the turn of every card. Survival mode sets you up against a team of Raider A.I. where you need to stay alive for a set number of weeks by collecting the minimum amount of resource cards in a short space of time to guarantee your survival. Finally, there is War. In War, you and the enemy can control multiple bases with the end goal of stockpiling more resources than each other or knocking them out of the game by sending hordes of dead to overrun their base.
All three modes can have their difficulty sliders adjusted to match your needs. From the elementary “Very Easy” all the way to the appropriately titled “Impossible” mode. If that isn’t enough for the masochist’s out there, you can also activate “Extra Dead” mode to all difficulties, which send dead cards to your base every turn. Before getting stuck in though, it would be wise to seek out the rules section, as jumping straight into a game can be very confusing until you get the basic mechanics down, but spending five minutes watching and then playing the tutorial, then jumping into any mode on the easiest setting will have you well on the way becoming a master in no time.
Playing the game, your home base is made up of an outside and inside area each with space for three cards as well as trade, sacrifice and stockpile sections. It is the stockpile area which is most important, as you will need to fill this up with the required resources and survivors needed to complete a set and ultimately lead to your escape and victory. Most cards have two or three separate outcomes depending on whether these are placed on the inside or outside base areas. You can also send most cards to the sacrifice pile which will generally give a more beneficial effect to yourself at the cost of losing that card to the discard pile.
In the centre of the play space all remaining cards are dealt evenly among 12 face-down piles, this is called the city. You can draw from the city whenever you like but doing so will nearly always result in a Dead following you back to base. Too many dead at your base and you will get overrun and in most cases, being overrun means you’re out of the game. If at the end of you turn a dead is occupying the same play space as one of your survivors, then in true zombie fashion, that survivor will be killed, and you guessed it, turned into another zombie.
Where Dead Exit shines is within its simplicity. From how easy it is to play once the mechanics are learnt, to the easy on the eye art direction and ambience created by its soundtrack; which can be turned off, and finally the great looking and well thought out characters on display within the cards themselves. Although online matchmaking is an option, playing co-operative or competitive with up to seven of your friends is where the fun’s at. You can’t beat that feeling when someone thinks they have the win in the bag only for an event followed by your own strategic prowess knocks them out of the game.