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Tue 22nd Nov 2005
By David Whyld - See all my reviews
The idea of zombies attacking the living seems a popular theme for the past few years, what with the remake of Dawn Of The Dead, a pastiche Shaun Of The Dead and then George A. Romero’s (very disappointing) Land Of The Dead, and here the idea makes its way into a text adventure. With pretty impressive results, too.
You play the part of Stacie, out for the night with some of the girls, who gets caught up in all the chaos at a subway station when the undead start turning on the living. Your friends become lost and you are trapped in the subway station, weaponless. It’s just you…and a horde of ravening zombies.
The bulk of The Plague: Redux takes place in the subway station as Stacie, the aforementioned damsel in distress, struggles to get out in one piece. Along the way, she encounters a few other survivors (including some pleasant chap who tries to rape her (not a game for kids clearly)) and, yes, zombies galore. The writing is excellent for the most part and does a good job of evoking the scene of a terrified young woman in mortal danger of being killed by zombies.
Unfortunately there are some serious errors that let things down. I found some zombies feasting on a corpse in a cubicle and options were displayed on screen to either [F] Fight or [E] Escape. Neither worked. Nor did attacking the zombies work. In fact, I wasn’t able to do anything at all about the zombies, and worst still, when I typed LOOK, I was alone in the cubicle without the zombies. Worse was the fact that when I left the cubicle and re-entered, the zombies were back. This time, however, I wasn’t given the option of [F] Fight or [E] Escape, but just killed them straight off with a weapon I was carrying.
Elsewhere I found a woman who had been mauled by zombies. Even though I didn’t know her name, the game helpfully referred to her as Kate. After some struggling to help her, I figured out what needed doing but ran into a problem in that the game wouldn’t accept my GIVE [OBJECT] TO KATE but only GIVE [OBJECT] TO WOMAN.
If there are any faults with The Plague: Redux (gameplay faults, that is, and not outright errors or bugs like those mentioned above), it’s that the early parts are far too linear. The intro seems to take an age to get through and involves little more than the main character and her friends fleeing from a horde of zombies. There’s also the problem that, despite zombies running around and killing people all over the place, it’s possible for the player to take as long as they want in getting anywhere. And the threat of the zombies themselves is somewhat weakened by the fact that the player – a young woman armed with a metal pole – is able to kill them without too much difficulty. How has the zombie threat progressed this far if they’re so easy to kill? (Then again, it never made much sense in the films that unarmed, shambling corpses who can’t think for themselves could overpower soldiers armed with machine guys…)
A large portion of the game has the player wandering around the subway station trying to find some money for a bottle of water from a dispensing machine. Why? Because she’s thirsty. This struck me as a pretty flimsy excuse for what is – due to the way the money is actually found in half a dozen or so different places, some of them not very obvious – a very lengthy and time consuming puzzle. I must have spent a good hour wandering around the subway station searching for a few extra coins for the water… all the time wondering just why I didn’t simply go into one of the many shops scattered around the place and help myself to some. Unfortunately, the water is required for an event later in the game and without it you won’t get anywhere, so it’s not a case of you being able to miss it out if you don’t want to.
Examining items and looking under and behind them is often a different thing entirely in this game. Something that I discovered after examining just about every item in the subway station, not finding much, and then realising I had to go over the whole place again to find what I needed. A little README file indicating that examining items was different from looking under and behind them would have been a good idea.
But the problems with the game (aside from the errors with the disappearing zombies in the cubicle) are relatively minor ones and, with a bit of perseverance, can be overcome. Overall, The Plague: Redux is a great text adventure, and certainly the best ADRIFT game I’ve played this year.
8 out of 10