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500-Word Indies

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Rework the Dead: Evil - Windows (2011)

by Gendo Ikari - April 19, 2013

Title Screen

Rework the Dead: Evil is very loosely based on an old webcomic, in fact it keeps only the basic concept of a zombie apocalypse with furry characters, which is far from making the tone lighter: right from an incredibly morbid developer logo, this is one of the most graphically violent free games you'll come across, with blood and guts flying around, even onto ceilings when you use the bigger guns. Fleeing an invasion of Reworks (just another way to say "zombies"), the dog protagonist takes shelter in an underground military complex to escape the upcoming nuking of the city. Unfortunately the inside is no safer, and as he descends deeper, creatures seemingly beyond the capabilities of the Rework virus start to appear. Things get increasingly screwy from there, culminating in an ending that's left deliberately open to interpretation.

At its core, the game is a clone of the 1995 cult classic Abuse, sometimes known as "the Doom of platformers," and one of the first 2D action games to successfully use a keyboard and mouse combination. The main menu, the terminals and even some visual elements are practically lifted from it. RtD:E puts a bigger emphasis on aiming, though: not going for the head is a sure way to waste bullets. Later weapons are very powerful (there's even a BFG9000 equivalent, although its secondary fire, a force field, is much more useful), but ammo is constantly scarce, so don't ever think about forgetting your starting handguns, and only while holding them you can toss grenades, anyway. The pace is less frenetic than in Abuse, but more aggressive players are rewarded by a "gore score" that goes higher the longer and quicker a succession of kills is. A stamina bar determines of much you can run, and weapons cannot be used while running. Curiously, it becomes an oxygen meter when swimming, so don't take a dive right after running.

The healing system is a bit questionable: it's based on adrenaline shots, and when you use one you also get unlimited stamina for a while... and then the bar stays depleted for an equal amount of time. Needless to say it's not what you need in those sticky situations where you want to heal in a hurry and flee. Other rough edges include the ability to save only between levels (at least some mid-level checkpoints would have been appreciated), points where it's very difficult not to take damage due to sudden enemy ambushes, and the design of some boss encounters - when you have to include a hint file in case players cannot figure how to kill them, you did something wrong.

The average quality is good throughout most of the game though, and the furry element so marginal it shouldn't be discriminating. RtD:E is solid and challenging, and worth the ride just to see the cool and powerful final weapon towards the end.

Friendly warning: At some point you'll be tricked into thinking you're at the end. There's something you must not do to go on!

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Rework the Dead: Evil (Windows)

Rework the Dead: Evil (Windows)

Rework the Dead: Evil (Windows)

Rework the Dead: Evil (Windows)

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