A Way to be Dead – Preview
Follow Genre: Survival Horror
Developer: Crania Games
Publisher: Crania Games
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

A Way to be Dead – Preview

Good: The horror environment, Gory graphics, Adequate soundtrack
Bad: Boring experience, Lacks more interactive objectives, Lacks teamplay elements and character personalization
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The market for asymmetrical survival horror games has long been looking to dethrone the popular Dead by Daylight with a similar multiplayer option, for those with a preference for gory scenarios. A Way to Be Dead is another iteration that intends to fill this niche, with some important differences. We took a look at it while it’s still in Steam Early Access.

A Way to be Dead is a 5-person multiplayer game, where players can take the role of a deranged doctor Riley, or be a scared victim, trying to escape the doctor. You can even become a (un)dead victim, who has fallen prey to the doctor or to one of the many zombies shambling around the map. So the premise is simple, and it’s the same as the title’s odd catchphrase: “Escape / Kill / Eat”.

As Dr. Riley, you will have access to different types of weapons you can use to kill the victims, as well as two important powers: a heat-sensor vision, allowing you to sense the victims’ presence through walls, and a Mutation-mode, where you become stronger and faster in a mutated zombie shape. If you play as a victim, your objective is to collect limbs, which you can find from bodies scattered through the map, and bring them to grave spots. Once you’ve done this, a key will spawn, which you can use to open the exit gates from the map and escape.

Speaking about the map, there is only one map available in A Way to Be Dead at the current time of writing. This map is called August Valentine Hospital, and is a sort of abandoned asylum, with empty rooms, tunnels you can crawl through, and a garden area leading to the exits. You will start every game in a room in the back, and spawn there every time you die and revive, either with the help of a teammate, or by hitting a skill check marker mini-game. If you die several times, and no one else can revive you, you will be given the option to play as a zombie, and you can choose between helping the other victims or chase them yourself.

A Way to be Dead is meant to be played by five players, but fortunately, it has an option to play with AI instead. The current lack of players means queue times are so long it is almost impossible to play with other people. The AI characters work relatively well as your teammates, but they fail to deliver a truly scary experience when controlling Dr. Riley.

The main question is if the game is fun to play in its Early Access state. Unfortunately, it is not – at least not in its current state. While its gameplay is straightforward and follows the typical fetch-escape formula, chasing the game’s objectives feels mostly tedious. To collect the limbs, you must sit channeling a search option over corpses around the map, and these do not always guarantee a drop. Zombies and Dr. Riley can try to stop you, but you can escape both too easily by just crouching and entering a system of tunnels that they cannot enter.

Similarly, you will never feel you are actually co-operating with your teammates since there is nothing you can do together. You must search for limbs and bring them to the graves individually, and even if you try to keep Dr. Riley or the zombies distracted, there is a chance they will simply ignore you in favor of the teammate performing a body search. Your teammates can revive you, but that also merely means they’re sitting on top of your unconscious body for some time.

You can collect items you find in the level, but these are currently very limited in number, and you cannot share them. The most important item is a flashlight, used to slow the movement of zombies or to blind Dr. Riley, temporarily stopping him from attacking. Both of these “fighting back” options sound good on paper, but do not always work as intended, because the game’s controls are not yet as accurate as they should be.

In fact, A Way to Be Dead only offers two truly original mechanics: the possibility of becoming a zombie after you’re killed, and a “play-dead” hide option. Unfortunately, both fall short. The zombie mode feels more like an afterthought, so those that are already dead can still feel they are part of the ongoing session, lacking any real excitement. The play-dead option would never work against real players, who can spot just how out of place your dead body would look in certain locations.

Winning sessions grants the players Skill Points, but these are just slight improvements on skills that every character already has, like the use of flashlights. There are no unique characters yet, other than the game’s random assignment of a “Nurse” character that joins the victims. The Nurse can cure the characters who became zombies. There are plans to implement more characters with unique abilities, but it is still unclear if these will also be randomly assigned, or if you can choose your own character to suit your playstyle.

We feel that many of the game’s current options need to be rethought, such as the fact that players always spawn on the same place on the map, making it easy for the killer to spawn kill them. On the other hand, the victims easily escape from the doctor through the tunnel system with little repercussions, making it more of a game of hide-and-seek, taking away a lot of the excitement you’d expect from a title such as this.


At the moment, A Way to Be Dead exhibits too many issues and limitations for us to recommend playing it. Even though the general gory atmosphere is on point, and we had no problems with the graphics and sound, there are too few options right now to make it fun to play past three or four rounds. At the current time, there are not enough active players to justify queuing for the real multiplayer experience. The good news is the game is still in Steam Early Access and has a solid base to create something great. We have quite a bit of hope that, with some tweaks and a lot of additional content, the developers could create a popular multiplayer horror experience.

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A Way to be Dead – Preview, 5.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

Freelance writer and translator who likes to feed in her free time. If you'd like to chat, send me an e-mail to ritajbp@gmail.com!

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