There’s something to be said for a concept that keeps things simple. While increased complexity of purpose and design should be lauded, a video game that strives to do one or two things really well can also be an impressive achievement. Deadstone, by Timeslip Softworks, is a game that takes the core mechanics of Tower Defense and arcade shooters, and attempts to blend them into a thrilling indie title. On the surface it does a pretty great job of it too, but unfortunately there’s not a lot beneath.
Deadstone is an overhead shooter in which you play as an astronaut charged with defending a colony on the surface of Mars. It’s a meat-and-potatoes premise, and it’s a meat-and-potatoes gameplay experience, in which each level consists of you holding off increasingly difficult waves of enemies. For each one that gets past you, a single colonist dies. Early on, you don’t need to rely on much more than your primary weapon and some explosives to keep enemies at bay. As you progress however, you have the option to set up sentries and mines which are much needed.
This game has two story modes which you can choose from right at the start. One is a serious story while the other is basically the same story but played for laughs. Gameplay-wise, there’s no real difference between the two, and to be honest neither story is particularly memorable or interesting. Thankfully, if you wish to bypass any pretense of story you can choose to play the game without one and get right down to blowing zombies away.
While the story may be throwaway, the gameplay in Deadstone is solid. Every aspect of the controls, from aiming to movement, is very well done. In addition to that, there are a lot of options for upgrading your character through stats and perks; it’s not dissimilar to the Fallout series in style and tone. After the beginning levels, where you start off with a borderline useless pistol, things begin to ramp up as you level up and acquire more powerful weapons and tools for defending the base. It’s once you have acquired these items that combat in Deadstone starts to become fun, so thankfully you don’t have to spend a huge amount of time getting there.
Co-op is where Deadstone really has the potential to be a fun game, and it is quite a blast playing side by side with a friend. The most shocking thing about its multiplayer mode however is that there’s no online multiplayer. Its absence really leaves a void in this game as a complete product, as it definitely comes across as being ideal for such a setup. If there ever emerges a functional online mode at some point down the line, please feel free to add one point to my final score because it would definitely increase the appeal of this game.
Deadstone is by no means a bad game, and in fact it’s actually quite fun for what it is. The main problem with it however is that, aside from a few types of environments and modes, there just isn’t enough variation to really sustain much beyond a few playthroughs. There’s always the chance that more content will come from the developer or from the modding community, but as it stands it’s hard to recommend Deadstone for much more than trying it out.
[+Capable arcade-style shooter] [+Lots of customization for characters] [+Fun co-op mode] [-No online multiplayer] [-Not much variety]