Dead Ground – Review
Follow Genre: Rogue-like Tower Defense
Developer: ShotX Studio
Publisher: ShotX Studio
Platforms: PC, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Dead Ground – Review

Site Score
5.0
Good: Easy controls, Challenging
Bad: Random (bad) loot drops
User Score
6.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 6.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Most tower defense games offer gameplay where you can expect to grow, after repetitively doing the same thing over and over again, with a few different waves of enemies. Well, with Dead Ground being a rogue-like tower defense game, each level is procedurally generated with random enemies and bosses, making every playthrough a unique experience. If you combine this with permadeath, you have a hell of a challenge laid out before you!

Story

Aside from two small lines of text, the game is void of any story. You are part of a wandering gang in search of a place that is untouched by the apocalypse. The rest of the game is purely focused on its tower defense gameplay, and that is perfectly fine for a game such as this.

Graphics

Dead Ground looks quite good on the Nintendo Switch, with well-designed defensive structures, enemies and player characters, all animated in a cartoony style. There are many different bosses you will encounter and they all have their own unique design with a name that perfectly fits their existence. Each of your defensive structures will spawn units that will shoot at incoming enemies. As the ranks of these ‘camps’ increase, they get better equipped or will even change form. Each kill in Dead Ground is accompanied by words like ‘Aargh!’, ‘Boom!’ and a few others, which gives it a fun twist.

Sound

The sound in Dead Ground is fairly good, although a bit basic. The game’s whole soundtrack is comprised of a few simple arcade-like melodies that sound quite well, but will become very repetitive after playing for a while. Aside from this, these tracks have a good rhythm and are quite catchy. At the camp, the music is played by the game’s own characters as they play the guitar and the saxophone.

Gameplay

Dead Ground is a rogue-like tower defense game that won’t only let you build your defenses to protect the end of the road, but will also make you participate actively by roaming around the perimeter yourself. The levels in Dead Ground are procedurally generated, meaning that each level will have different enemies, routes and bosses. The levels in this game are represented by days. Every day you will have to beat one series of waves on a randomized map.

When you start the game, you can choose your character to play with. Sadly, all but one character are locked until you manage to beat a certain day. As the difficulty of the game is quite high, unlocking the rest is a hard task. Each of these characters has its own special abilities that will grant a speed boost, an automated turret, etc. All of these characters also have different stats, one being quicker for example, while another deals more damage.

Your character is equipped with a weapon, an ability and an augment. These three things are very important as they will basically determine your damage output and health regeneration. You can buy new gear and unlock upgrades for your defenses with scrap that is dropped by enemies in each level. Water, also dropped by enemies, is used for building your defenses and upgrading them. You need to gather as much as you can, as you won’t have that many opportunities to do so. There’s also a limited amount available at each point, so you need to spend it wisely.

As you progress in through the game, the levels will grow tougher and tougher. You will earn a new item of each equipment type when you beat a level. As the game is pretty much randomized each run, you don’t know what to expect. If you don’t have any good weapons by the third day, seeing those in the shop are too expensive, you’re better off starting a new run. While you can of course buy weapons with your collected scrap, this will then put you in another difficult situation, as you will not be able to invest enough in your defenses.

As a tower defense game, you would expect that your defenses would withhold most of your enemies, but sadly, they do not. You are the most important factor when it comes to defending the different routes as your towers won’t do a lot of damage, even when fully upgraded. Starting from day 7, there will be two roads that you both need to defend, which is quite hard with your towers being as effective as a holey piece of cheese.

Before each day, you’ll see your group traveling on the road, while a pop-up window shows up indicating locations like caves, abandoned camps, old water plants and more. These are random events that will give you increased damage, scrap, water, and even equipment, but they can also cause the reverse. The developers probably didn’t notice that you can reroll these randomized events by returning to the main menu and pressing continue. The game will then resume as if you haven’t started the next level yet. Each time, the outcome of these events are randomized, so you can reroll them as much as you like until you get what you want. This also means you can quickly quit the game if you see things going the wrong way to retry and cheat the permadeath system. This is clearly a bug, and we doubt it will get patched any time soon, making this a permanent exploit (probably).

Conclusion

Dead Ground is a very challenging tower defense game where your character will have to do most of the work, with the towers supporting your play. With procedurally generated levels, loot, and a limited amount of resources, it can take you quite a while before you get a good run where you get some good equipment to be able to survive in most levels. Even with favorable loot, the game is still quite hard. The gameplay is quite fun and easy to master, but the skill is in controlling the playing field and keeping all your enemies from crossing the routes. The permadeath rule is quite gruesome, because making one mistake could cost you your life and the awesome gear you’ve gathered. If you like grinding for random items, being challenged and love playing tower defense games, then this unpolished take on the genre might entertain you for a bit. For the most part, it’s a bit of a mixed experience, where it’s hard to wholeheartedly recommend the game.

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Rating: 6.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Dead Ground - Review, 6.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Nickskuh


Administration is my job but gaming is my passion!

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