Dead Nation: Road of Devastation is the downloadable add-on to Housemarque’s 2010 isometric zombie-survival twin-stick shooter. Played in either single-player, or couch/online co-op, Dead Nation focuses on upgrading your character’s guns and armor, racking up score with point multipliers – this is the team behind Super Stardust HD, after all – and taking down hordes of the undead. We gave the original game a 9/10, as we think the production values added to this type of co-op, leaderboard-driven game, made for one of last year’s best PlayStation Network titles.
Road of Devastation comes nearly a year later, and with it, brings a brand new way of progressing through the new solo/co-op campaign. Progression is now measured in rounds, which gives the gameplay that “survival mode” feel to it. At the start of every round, you have access to a weapon upgrade station, where you use money you’ve accumulated to spend on various unlocks – just like in the original game. Players are then directed to a branching path leading to one of six different and unique roads of devastation, with a specific weapon/bonus/upgrade found in each.
Three different doors give way to three different paths that branch in two ways each: Guns and Support Items, Health and Money, and Armor and Score. Believe it or not, this new way of progressing through the game is actually very fun, and adds a new layer of depth and strategy to how you play Dead Nation.
Players receive one upgrade per path, each round. Going through the gun path, for example, will allow you to unlock a new weapon. Going down the money path, will pit you against enemies that reward money upon death, with plenty of hidden cash bonuses through the round. This forces you to make tactical decisions at the start of each round, as you cannot repeat paths two rounds in a row and enemies grow increasingly powerful after every round. You end up thinking up a new progression path – which gets really fun when you have a partner helping you out with a strategy – every time you start up Road of Devastation. So, check one for re-playability in Road of Devastation.
Housemarque has also gone back and changed up the formula a bit by adding some new items to the game, such as an automated turret support item, a health pack (that refills a full health bar), both of which make great additions to survival strategies in Dead Nation. I managed to reach round 10 with my co-op partner (which I was rewarded a gold Trophy for), at which point zombies were too fast, tough, and plentiful to survive against. Dead Nation retains its difficulty standard in this add-on, and in conjunction with the round-based progression system, leads to the most addictive part of Road of Devastation, and the most frustrating one.
Upon death in Road of Devastation, players are booted to the title screen. This makes you want to restart with a new strategy, or progression path. For those interested in competitive leaderboard play amongst your friends, we can see this being quite fun. However, the downer is that there’s no way to save progress in your sessions. If you start a game alone, or with a partner, get comfy — you’ll be locked to your seat ’till you die (in the game, of course). It would’ve been nice if you could save your progress, and not have to feel like you’ve lost all your progression with one fatal mistake. This does, however, add a great deal of tension, stress, and ultimately, fun, to every play session.
So all in all, when you take in the low, low asking price of $3.99 for this new DLC, it’s hard to not recommend Road of Devastation to Dead Nation fans. If you’ve played Dead Nation – and we know there’s a lot of you out there – and you liked it, chances are you’ll enjoy Road of Devastation. No, it doesn’t continue the story, or have save/check points, but it’ll provide hours of fun for any Dead Nation fan nonetheless.