Fire up your engine and take off to the 70's - an era which, as the grindhouse cinema-inspired racer Dead End suggests, is all about muscle cars, zombies, apocalyptic road-rage, and dirty rock and roll.
Dead End is a collaboration between two French studios, Flying Oak Games and Sparkling Vinegar. It's a retro-racer that embodies all that's awesome and adorably clunky about B-grade horror movies - monochromatic graphics with awkward animations, abundant zombie splatter, babes, and garnishes it with a Kuyss-inspired stoner rock soundtrack. In fact, its visuals are reminiscent of Queens Of The Stone Age's red and black video for "Go With The Flow", itself inspired by comic book artist Frank Miller's characteristic style.
Fans of the bloody Carmageddon games will feel immediately at home, while seasoned gamers will appreciate the homage to the arcade-classic Outrun. However, the game's aesthetics are definitely superior to its gameplay - running over zombies, which is the bread and butter of horror racing games, splatters blotchy bodily fluids on your windshield. They purposefully obscure the race track, but the effect goes on for too long and makes it almost impossible to dodge spike traps and car scraps. Yes, this is a "start level and see how long you'll last" type of game, but playing it doesn't feel very rewarding. Still, many gamers like their games hardcore.
In addition to riding a zombie-infested race track, Dead End lets you earn dollars and buy upgrades in the garage - your tires, shield, and steering wheel can be made bigger, stronger, and faster. After all, you are a race driver in the apocalypse - there's not much else to spend your hard-earned coin on, is it?
Dead End is free to play on Android and iOS, and $1.49 on Windows Phone due to the WP Store's lack of in-app purchasing support. Unlocking the full title on the other systems costs $1.99. It's a rather unique racer that's worth trying out.