Thursday , May 23 2024

PAX East 2024 Preview: ‘Into the Dead: Our Darkest Days’

During PAX East there is often a chance to check out games in more comfortable scenarios where I am able to sit and truly explore what the title has to offer. Into the Dead: Our Darkest Days was one of those examples, I was able to try it in a more private setting and play as long as I wanted while chatting with the developers.

Something Special

This continuation of the hit mobile series Into the Dead is developer PikPok’s first major foray into a PC release. At first I was a little wary that they could translate a mobile series into a deep PC experience, but after an hour or so with the game I was convinced they had something special on their hands.

This is an action adventure game using a 2.5D style presentation, similar to games like Shadow Complex or Dave the Diver. This is where the game is mainly on a 2D plane, but occasionally the action goes into or out of the scene, generally to move into different areas.

Zombie Apocalypse

Into the Dead is set after a zombie apocalypse and groups of survivors have banded together to try to stay alive as they move from shelter to shelter. Scouting new locations, finding other survivors and building up their resources is key.

The game-play is a mix of exploration, planning, base building and combat when there is no other choice. When locations are discovered they can be explored by one of the survivors, these may be unknown spots, where survivors are or key locations for supplies.

When a location and character is chosen, and all characters have different changeable skills, the game shifts to that spot and the are is open to explore. The really interesting thing about the demo I tried is that the areas do not res-pawn items or re-lock areas, once something is looted or opened it stays opened if the area is revisited.

Compelling Moments

This means that if one of the characters dies while exploring, their body and items are still there to be retrieved by another survivor. This made for some compelling moments as I lost a character trying to get an objective item, I went back to the area with a different person and was able to retrieve the bag and escape.

While it should be avoided combat is crucial in the game with equip-able weapons that destruct after a certain amount of hits and firearms. Going head to head with zombies is dangerous, sneak attacks are possible, but if overwhelmed running is always a good option as I discovered in the demo.

Amazing Art Style

The presentation of Into the Dead: Our Darkest Days is incredibly well done. The art style is amazing but the use of light and perspectives enhances the dread when exploring new area. I only played a brief snippet of the game but had numerous creepy moments and outright scares while playing.

The developer wanted to make more than a pure action game with Into the Dead so they added aspects of fear and both physical and mental injuries. When coming back from a dangerous zone the survivor may have been wounded or distraught/panicked and needs to take time heal both ailments.

This leads to some game-play systems I did not see but heard about in the game. I saw exploration and a bit of the world as well as combat and traversal mechanics but not the crafting or healing mechanics. The developer was very excited about these features and told me they would be robust but would be revealed later in the year.

Areas to Explore

I also heard that the game will cover the fictional southern town of Walton, Texas, and there will be a fairly large amount of areas to explore, set up shelters and plan for safety from the undead. The little bit I saw wet my appetite for this as I saw shelters, overrun zones and some key locations like a sheriff station and gas station.

While the demo did not show the full features of the game I was amazed from the start with the visual presentation, music and most importantly gameplay mechanics. Stealth, planning, exploration, and resource management will play a key part in the game and what I checked out was very promising.

Into the Dead: Our Darkest Days is aiming to release into Early Access via Steam in early 2025 with a planned public demo later this year. This is a game to keep an eye on and added to wishlist’s as it looks to be a great take on the undead game genre.

About Michael Prince

A longtime video game fan starting from simple games on the Atari 2600 to newer titles on a bleeding edge PC I play everything I can get my hands on.

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