Once upon a time, in a fit of nostalgia, I purchased an 8-bit rogue loot-and-shoot called Death Road to Canada. It was a fulfilling, randomly generated trek up the Eastern Seaboard, past the encroaching zombie hordes, to the promised safety of Canadian Dominion. It combined all of the best elements of Oregon Trail, Fallout, and The Legend of Zelda.
I think about escaping to Canada a lot recently. Something in the air, I guess. So, I’ve been seeking distractions, and this game has provided a great deal of entertainment in some trying times.
The game begins, as so many do, with a scientist’s discovery of a mysterious substance that consumes matter. The government’s refusal to fund the research of this dangerous, invasive new substance results in an inevitable outbreak, and society collapses on cue.
There are two modes of gameplay, with several story tracks depending on your character choice. So far, I am fantastic at dying in all of them.
Of a cast of 10 characters, 4 are unlocked at the start of play. You can play as Liam, a combat medic haunted by his past,
Lola, a no-nonsense dixie-fried barkeep who gets stronger when she rage-drinks.
Sgt. Heidi “Shots” Schatz – a mercenary brought in by special forces for her precision with a rifle
and Theodore Quill, a research scientist who might be dabbling in the occult.
Pretty neat that both combat heavy PCs are GIRL CHARACTERS. I like seeing GIRL CHARACTERS in pop culture. It makes the offerings more captivating. Maybe it’s an Autistic thing. Maybe it’s just reasonable to assume that I would want to see characters that I could relate to on such a basic level. The point is, I play as Lola a lot. I find her sass compelling. Maybe I just want to own a bar.
Don’t be deceived by the cartoonish graphics or the rampant pop culture Easter eggs (both of which I love). There is a staggeringly complex series of metrics governing the moving parts of this game. You find yourself accounting for health, stamina and hunger, in addition to munitions and operational inventory. This is a game that offers itself up for discovery, and I’m having a fine time searching its nooks and crannies for secrets and puzzle pieces. Though it is still in development, it’s robust enough to capture and hold my attention – I just hope I can survive long enough to solve some of these mysteries.
Cannibal Crossing is available in early release on Steam.