Alongside Nazis, zombies are perhaps the most over-represented foe in video gaming. Through Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, and more recently Dead Island and Dying Light, videogame zombies have a storied history, and it’s not particularly often that you see a develop attempt to do something different with them. Occasionally you’ll get fast zombies, or, in the case of The Last of Us, zombies with a twist, but they’re often slow, shambling targets who gather in large numbers and fall rather easily. Developers Illfonic and Psyop Games are attempting to do something different with zombies in their game Dead Alliance, a multiplayer shooter with the inclusion of the undead attempting to shake up a familiar experience.
Dead Alliance makes no allusions to being anything other than a multiplayer shooter, with the only option for a single-player experience being to either play against offline bots or enter into a survival situation. Multiplayer is the true focus of the game, and it’s here that players will likely spend almost all of their time with Dead Alliance. There are a number of fairly typical modes to play, including Capture the Flag and Team Deathmatch, but the inclusion of zombies on the map causes the experience to be slightly different from what you might be used to. By default, the zombies gather in groups at various spots in the map, attacking anyone reckless enough to venture near them, but by using various items, players can either distract the zombies, or prompt them to attack players on the other team.
There are only six different maps and six different modes on offer in Dead Alliance, so while the variety on offer in terms of gameplay experience might be lacking, there’s more of a reason to return to the game when it comes to character progression and customization. There are a ton of different weapon upgrades and attachments to unlock using in-game money, and you’re also able to upgrade your hideout, which allows for character improvements such as increased movement speed or lowered weapon recoil. You earn money for finishing games, and through the three different class-types (heavy, medium and light), there’s a good deal of items to unlock if you’re willing to spend the time with the game.
Unfortunately, I found that there wasn’t much within Dead Alliance that encouraged me to return time and again, especially with the other multiplayer shooter options that are available on the market, that produce a far more compelling experience, both in gameplay and in the sense of progression. The inclusion of zombies in Dead Alliance doesn’t do enough to differentiate the experience, and often serve as more of an annoyance than any sort of genuine threat. They tend to just get in the way, and don’t do enough to paper over what it otherwise a fairly generic shooting experience. What’s more, I had a couple of instances of the game crashing to the PS4 dashboard, so as well as being uninspiring, the experience is also unreliable.
Dead Alliance is a perfectly functional online shooter, for the most part, but doesn’t offer an experience strong enough to set it apart from the many, many shooters already available. Even is this was a multiplayer addition to a single-player title, it would be the kind of thing players would play once or twice before putting down and forgetting about, so it’s difficult to see why players would pay for this as a standalone experience. It’s an immediately forgettable title, and due to the sole focus on multiplayer, I would find it difficult to recommend it to many players, as I can’t imagine the servers will stay populated for long.