We had the pleasure of following along with the development of Deadlings for some months now and was thoroughly impressed with the games direction. Now that the game is finally in my hands in its completed form, my views have altered slightly. Yes, I still think the game is exceptional on a visual and technical level, it’s one of the nicest looking 2D affairs I’ve seen in a long time, but the pesky microtransaction thing that plagues mobile games really comes to bite the game in the rear.
Deadlings was developed by Nimbi Studios and the bulk of the highly impressive visuals the game uses were done by one man, Andrzej Pasinski. Nimbi Studios have managed to craft a really fun game that was designed specifically with the mobile environment in mind. There are lots of quick levels that you can jump into and complete in while waiting in line at the bank, but just as many that will require you think ahead and plan a strategy.
The fun factor never tails off with Deadlings as every few levels the game will intriduce some sort of new gameplay element to keep you on your toes. Mobile games really live and die by how quickly they can grab your attention and keep you coming back for more. It’s why terrible games like Flappy Bird or Candy Crush keep raking in the dough. They have this addictive psychological way of making you come back again and again, even though the gameplay is crap and the visuals are amateurish at best. Deadlings nails those two points on the hea, but in the best possible way, with a great visual presentation and addictive gameplay, that while challenging is fair. Everytime you load up Deadlings, you are going to have a good time.
Gameplay is very straightforward here, with your goal in each level being to have at least one of your Deadlings reach the exist. The overall premise is that you play as Death overseeing the creation of these little zombie Dealings to deal with the human population. The story unfolds in these really well done comic like panels between phases. The game itself is currently broken up into four phases (more are promised soon) with each phase consisting of around fifteen or so levels. So, while there may not be dozens and dozens of phases, yet, there are enough levels here to keep you busy for quite a while, especially when the difficulty begins ramping up. As the game progresses you are introduced to new Deadlings with very different abilities that you must use to complete the testing. You have your standard jumper, a octopus like wall sticker, a fart propelling flyer, brainwashed minions that move on command and others each with their own distinct look and feel.
Like I mentioned before the graphics here are exceptional. Kudos have to be given to all the people involved in not only getting the game animated, but those involved in the concept work for all the various Deadlings themselves. Everything is bright and vibrant, giving of this cartoon like feel, while still retaining a dark overtone that helps the overall comedic style the game strives for. If I had to compare it to something, I would say it looks like a darker version of Where’s My Water mixed with some Billy And Mandy.
On the sound front we have to remember we are dealing with a mobile platform so audio quality may vary from person to person (We tested on a Nexus 5) but the quality we got was great. The music was dark a lively and helped set the mood without ever feeling repetitive or overbearing. The sound effects were spot on with the requisite gross sounds that you would expect from dead squishy things wandering around the games landscape. Explosions, doors, falls, deaths were all top notch and you could really hear (no pun intended, well, maybe a little intended) how much care was put into the game in every level of development.
The only thing that keeps me from calling Dealings something great and amazing comes when you find out that the microtransactions in the game can be a real killer. The iOS version of the game is a paid app, and as we didn’t test on that can;t say if it has in-app purchases. The Android version on the other hand is a free download via the Google Play store. Being free the game offers you tons of ways for you to spend your money on frivolous items that you shouldn’t have to pay for. Twenty-five skulls (the games currency to play levels and do a variety of things from resurrecting the dead to skipping levels) will cost $0.99 with prices going all the way up to $4.99 for five-hundred of them, more than most full games. You can also buy additional Deadlings for the same price ranges as if they die during play, they are gone and you have to begin again. A lot of these things can be avoided by having to deal with forced cooldown periods, but that kind of thing just really pisses me off, especially if I’m on roll. It’s a shame because when these kind of things pop up, even in good games like this one, I find myself closing the game and opening up something else instead. Look, Deadlings is a fine game, one that I wouldn’t mind paying a few bucks for to own it outright without the pervasive pay-to-play model.
While the pay-to-play features are annoying, they aren’t troublesome enough to deter you from a fantastic little mobile game. If you are looking for something that’s loads of fun and easy to pick up and play, then Deadlings is a fantastic choice.
Deadlings is available now from:
Android: Google Play store
iOS: Apple App store