When developer Housemarque delivered the awesome PlayStation Network exclusive Dead Nation last year, gamers were treated to an action-packed shoot 'em up rife with crazy zombies, gritty environments, and countless bullets. The title's gameplay was rooted in the twin-stick shooter genre, and it was an addictive and challenging romp perfect for gamers who wanted a compelling and addictive shooter. Here we are almost a year later, and Housemarque has just released Road of Devastation, a DLC expansion intended to give fans of the first game exactly what they want: more Dead Nation.
Rather than providing you with a fun little plot like the core game originally did, Road of Devastation quickly throws you into the fray. You start out in a lab of sorts, where you are instructed to begin your experiment. This lab plays an important role in Road of Devastation–it provides you with an arms shop where you can upgrade and buy weapons. At the start of the game, though, there's not much to do, so all you can really do is head out for the massacre.
Road of Devastation isn't linear like the campaign in Dead Nation was, and there isn't really a strong emphasis on an end goal of sorts. Instead, you must choose between different routes, each offering specific items. The paths you can choose include guns and supplies, health and money, and lastly, armor and score. Upon clearing a path, you are redirected to the lab area, where you can then use the cash earned during your runs to purchase guns, upgrades, and ammo.
Once you head out, the previous road you took will close, so it's up to you to select a new route. Upon clearing that round, the previous path will open once more. This is where the game can get pretty addictive. It's a lot of fun taking the different routes and selecting new paths within those routes. Since the enemies get progressively stronger and tougher, Road of Devastation is no walk in the park, and it constantly requires you to go into the fray prepared.
Call it good timing, but prior to playing the Dead Nation DLC, I spent a good chunk of time playing The Binding of Isaac, a roguelike shooter from Edmund McMillen. Though that game is fairly different from Road of Devastation, both titles have a strong emphasis on survival and punishing difficulty, and it dawned on me that the Dead Nation expansion had some roguelike shooter elements of its own. Though the environments are in no way randomly generated, Road of Devastation constantly forces you to stay alert in each round, and once you die, it's game over for you.
It can get addictive trying to beat your previous high score and seeing how you stack up in the game's leaderboards. That said, Road of Devastation can also get pretty repetitive. Though there are some new enemies and a couple of new items, the novelty of the in-game content can wear thin really fast if you're not strictly aiming to get your score on the online leaderboards. And though the new environments are decent, it gets boring seeing the same scenery over and over again.
Like Dead Nation's original campaign, you can have a friend join in on the action to help you clear out hordes of zombies. It's always fun having an extra gun around, and given the high tension of Road of Devastation, it's also incredibly useful in progressing. The difficulty amps up pretty quickly in this DLC, so you're going to want all the help you can get.
Ultimately, Road of Devastation is a great download for gamers who love Dead Nation and want more of it. The expansion won't appeal to casual players, so for those individuals, I'd advise against making a purchase. For gamers who loved Dead Nation and want to blast some more heads, however, there's enough content here to justify a download. With different enemies, a handful of new areas, cool environmental kills, and some added trophies, Road of Devastation is well worth the incredibly low price of $3.99