Trapped Dead Lockdown: review

  • Format: PC (version reviewed), Mac, Linux, PS4, XB1
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Headup Games
  • Developer: Bigmoon Studios
  • Players: 1-4
  • Site: www.trappeddead.com/EN/
  • Game code provided by the publisher

Trapped Dead: Lockdown is an attempt at taking the action RPG genre made popular by the Diablo series and injecting it with zombies. Taking on such a task was never going to be easy, as veering too far from the formula would be gambling on Headup Games’ ability to add compelling new mechanics. Adhering too strictly to the formula without the expertise and budget of the Diablo and Path of Exile teams carries its own risks in coming across as a poorly made copycat. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened.

To summarise Trapped Dead: Lockdown as “Zombie Diablo” should be seen as shallow and reductive, but it’s sadly accurate. Though it perhaps gives this game a little too much credit, since it removes all semblance of depth and polish inherent to the Diablo franchise and replaces it with painfully generic undead enemies.

This is an incredibly basic action RPG. You choose your character then navigate the maps, clicking things until they die or explode. The problems start coming when Trapped Dead gets so many of these basics wrong.

Level design is laughable, each featuring linear paths devoid of the periphery areas to explore that makes fans of the genre sink so much time into it. The missions in these levels quickly become tiresome as they fall into a routine of entering a new area, completing a soulless series of fetch quests, and moving on. There is also no map, making some of the more convoluted levels that twist the path into an oblique, empty roundabout a chore to get through.

Along this insipid cycle, your character earns levels and skill points to spend. Unfortunately, this also bears a shocking resemblance to a puddle in its depth: There are five attributes you can spend skill points in, though it makes no sense to divide them up rather than just shove them all into the stat that correlates to your chosen character’s strengths, turning it into a rather superfluous process. The skill trees have no branches and are designed to encourage a very set route, so you’ll just be unlocking new abilities every level with the barest veneer of choice attached.

There are five characters to choose from: Marine, Butcher, Exorcist, Marshal, and Assassin. While the Butcher and Exorcist are very distinct in their propensities toward melee and spiritual attacks respectively, the Marine, Marshal, and Assassin are all variations of “this guy does both melee and ranged,” although they do admittedly specialise in different combinations of weaponry.

The genre’s combat has never been particularly engaging on a mechanical level, but it’s always made up for it with outlandish animations and ability customisation. Trapped Dead once again gets this completely wrong. We played the melee focused Butcher who had a single attack animation that was repeated over and over again, regardless of weapon type. Yes, he swung around two-handed weapons in a single hand in a rather egregious, lazy oversight. His abilities, which all boiled down to either a defensive cooldown or an AOE attack, were also poorly animated. His slam ability, for example, has no animation of the actual character despite its name. Instead, electricity just fans out from beneath his feet, presumably surging up from the concrete at the behest of the entirely un-animated slam.

No shoddy take on a beloved genre would be complete without a buggy driving segment.. One of the levels sees you gain access to cars, flipping the perspective and prodding you to mow down the scarce clumps of zombies while you go about the previously mentioned dull missions. This was a nice change of pace in one way: It’s the only time the zombies actually seemed like zombies.

Enemies come in three brands: Shuffling zombies, slightly more mobile zombies, and dudes with guns. There is no variety therein, and for some reason they’re all bullet-sponges, taking copious amounts of hits (with the aforementioned lack of animation variety eliciting many yawns along the way) from the best available weapon in the hands of a melee specialist with every skill point sunk into strength. This may be because each encounter only features a handful of enemies rather than the overwhelming horde that is a staple of zombie fiction, so they had to act nothing like zombies.

The bosses are even worse: Versions of regular enemies with health and damage boosted. All you have to do is stand and attack, popping defensive abilities and healing items while you character slaps the bosses with all the passion and fervour of a mildly discomforted kitten. If you die? That’s fine, there is no penalty. Just respawn, come back, and beat down the rest of its health.

It doesn’t help that a few enemies are ridiculously bug-ridden, either. Toward the end of the game, you have to fight a few more “dudes with guns” wearing suits and, if you’re using a melee weapon, your character will stop about a yard in front of the enemies and start waving their weapon in the air between him and his foe. There is also an encounter with two tanks that will kill you just for walking near them, even if they’re moving away from you, and trigger a loop of dying and respawning while stood at the checkpoint.

The game’s UI is also ugly and cumbersome. You can’t see all your gear at once, having to click each slot to see what you have. You also can’t sort merchants’ wares at all. Speaking of ugly, character models are inhibited by technical limitations without a discernible art style to cover it up. Multiplayer? Doesn’t work.

Trapped Dead: Lockdown is a thoroughly dour experience that gets so many facets of the genre wrong, it begs the question of why Bigmoon Studios, with their clear ignorance of what makes Diablo and Path of Exile tick, wanted to make the game anyway. A cynic might think they took a look at the rise of the Walking Dead and the action RPG and combined it for a quick, uninspired cash grab.

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Written by Adam S

Hailing from Parts Unknown, Adam grew up with a passion for three things: Videogames, anime, and writing. Unfortunately his attempts to combine the three have yet to form Captain Planet, but they have produced some good byproducts.

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