Although the title of this indie-developed hack ‘n’ slash game is somewhat lacking in imagination, the concept of the game is not (which makes a refreshing change considering this is an indie game – especially as this is Keldyn Interactive’s first release). The PC gaming market has been flooded with zombie games over the last few years and they have started to become conceptually stale as no new ideas ever seem to emerge. This is why Dead Meets Lead had the ability to break the zombie slashing mould by having a game set in the 18th century - where a nameless ship captain becomes stranded on an island that seems to be full of strange plague-like victims (and we all know what that means!). Unfortunately they were not able to pull it off and we are given a game with a good concept that is wasted because of its poor gameplay.
The game starts off with a menu / achievement list / weapon selection list / level select screen that combines all of these elements into a form of map that you scroll around by dragging your mouse, it is not something that accommodates ease of use but it is a fairly unique experience to navigate through. There are some very basic tutorials that introduce you to the game but the mechanics are so very simple that they are completely unnecessary and you definitely won’t ever be referring back to them (if you can’t work out “click = kill” then this game is far too advanced for you). The achievement list contains a handful of achievements that you can pick up by completing certain challenges (kill x amount of enemies in a given time period for example) but they don’t seem to have any benefit, so there really is no need to ever worry about completing them. There are 7 weapons to choose from and each level you choose 1 ranged and 1 melee weapon (after unlocking them with the coins you get from levels) but apart from slightly different attacks there is not much difference between them. And forget coop or multiplayer, this is a solely single player game despite it requiring you have an online account to be able to play (that offers no benefits whatsoever, not even any type of scoreboard).
Once you delve into the levels themselves you will notice the Warcraft-esque visual style that although worked well for Warcraft 3 back in 2003 now looks dated and lacks any real detail or polish. A warning to those of you who like games that give you different ways to complete a level and reward you with exploring, this is not the case in this game whatsoever. If you so much as stray away from the path you will immediately become infected with malaria that will kill you swiftly without any mercy if you don’t rush back to the safety of the path, with water doing the same through piranhas. This game is in no way forgiving, even if you survive the piranhas and malaria you will not get any check points, so you have to complete each and every mission in one go without succumbing to the hordes of undead that are after you. Levels can become very frustrating as you get little to no ammo for your ranged weapons (which are the only fun part of combat) so using them seems to be saved for special occasions. Melee combat is boring and lacklustre until you reach higher rage levels where it becomes more tolerable - but it still doesn’t cover up the distinct lack of impact upon hitting your foes.
It is such a shame that this game is poorly implemented because the concept itself is a nice and refreshing blend of things we are used to and things we are not. If it wasn’t for the weak combat system, frustratingly linear levels and complete lack of loot and upgrades then this setting could have been something that supported a genuinely unique gaming experience, but it is not the case. If you are someone who is partial to a completely bare-bones hack and slash game and have some money spare, maybe you could give this a try – but be warned that it will likely not keep your attention for long. If you want a decent hack ‘n’ slash top down game then maybe think about trying games such as Nation Red or Crimson Land that both have similar prices to Dead Meets Lead.