It is hard to put into words precisely how bad Chasing Dead is. There are so many glaringly obvious design flaws and a severe lack of overall polish, that it calls into question exactly how it managed to survive Nintendo’s notorious Lot Check.
This story-driven sci-fi horror shooter threads a narrative in which a parallel Earth has suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Unable to maintain contact with any expedition teams sent to investigate, you play as a mercenary called Jake, hired by the government to retrieve any research abandoned by the missing teams while looking into the reason behind their mysterious disappearance.
The plot is as ludicrous as it sounds, a horrendous B-movie of sorts with an accompanying live-action cast that never convey any particular belief behind the script that they reading. We can laugh that disconnect off, but as a game, it fails in far more dramatic places.
With the concept penned in September 2012, the development timeline paints a picture in that it apparently entered Beta testing by April 2015. Whatever process developer 2020 Venture claim to have followed fails to see their end product amount to a game that would never even near recommendation, which is astounding for all the wrong reasons.
Actions speak louder than words, and it’s evident that I’m not alone in such thoughts. Even the Californian-based indie has already slammed their own panic button, heavily discounting Chasing Dead as they rush to address the criticism being directed at it. But, while there have been nine updates released for version on Steam, Wii U has been left in the dark to the best of my knowledge. Such rapid bug fixes are perhaps to be commended but seen from an honest perspective firmly signify a game that wasn’t anywhere near ready for release.
Opening with Jake’s spaceship being destroyed when entering the parallel Earth’s atmosphere, he rushes to an escape pod that soon crashes directly into a plane that crosses its path. It is a tale that moves from one crazy scenario to another, wanting to take players to numerous locales regardless of how disjointed the overall experience may feel. Whether that be Afghanistan, Russia or Ukraine, you will wander through an abandoned science facility, a ruined cityscape and an open desert, all the while gunning down roaming undead, mutants and soldiers that have lost their sanity.
It was seemingly a clear goal for 2020 Venture to whisk players around the world, but the levels themselves are largely uninspired and barren. It is those that are more free-roaming that cause the most headaches, a lack of any objective marker repeatedly resulting in players meandering before they stumble upon the location by chance. That these are filled so sparsely only heightens such concern, with players thrust into open-ended sandboxes purely for a sense of scale rather than any calculated reason.
It wouldn’t be rude to point out that assets are often copied-and-pasted within levels, and such shortcuts are evident throughout the central story mode. Enemies, aside from bullet-sponge bosses, similarly look alike even if they are armed with different weapons, and all suffer from some atrocious AI that, given that it never improves over the course of the game’s entirety, feels as if Chasing Dead has been resuscitated from a long forgotten console generation.
2020 Venture is able to achieve improved levels of mediocrity when the levels are more linear, streamlining the experience to the point that players can rain bullet hell down corridors. But even then, there is far too little enjoyment to be drawn from the experience when the enemies you face are so moronic.
With multiplayer, more futuristic weapons, new enemies and missions promised in forthcoming updates, their initial effort is so subpar that I hold out little hope that they will be able to deliver on such admirable ambition.
Chasing Dead amounts to an unpolished and scattershot experience that fails to find near enough any success in the end product. More time in development was desperately needed, which will be clear to any that dare buy this frustratingly lacklustre release.
Version Tested: Wii U
Review copy provided by 2020 Venture