The similarities of Rune Factory 5 did not escape me while writing this Deadcraft exam. Being a Marvelous studio effort, many of the qualities shared between these titles were no accident. Deadcraft has the advantage of having no baggage on the go and strives for a flavor not often seen.
As the rune factory Games, Deadcraft is an action RPG emphasizing a farming simulation module to complement the hack and slash gameplay. If you ever felt this harvest moon should be like the road warrior but with zombies, it’s for you. Made up of a bit of old west flair, Deadcraft manages to make a statement very early on.
While it is apparent that the promoters were unable to secure AAA funding for Deadcraft; the ingenuity of the game design shines through and creates a highly addictive and challenging gameplay loop. How did they do it? Find out in this Deadcraft exam!
Developer: Marvelous Inc.
Publisher: XSEED Games, Marvelous USA
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S (revised)
Release date: May 19, 2022
Reid has a problem: he’s a half-infected zombie man and finds himself straddling two worlds; the living and the living dead. He is also on a quest for revenge and completely failed his revenge early in the story and must survive his way through the desert while learning to cope with his newfound semi-unlife.
Being a half-man, half-zombie hybrid turns out to be full of upsides and very few downsides. Reid is still hungry and thirsty like any man, but now he can cannibalize the flesh and blood of the undead to support himself. He can even use leftovers as fertilizer to grow hybrid zombie fruits and vegetables.
Eating undead food and drinking zombie blood has a cost. Excessive consumption of infected food increases Reid’s zombie level and going too high makes him more zombie than human, while also increasing his attack power. To reduce his infection, one must eat and drink normal food and water, or unleash one of his special zombie attacks that consumes a certain infection.
Managing Reid’s survival stats is just one module of the Deadcraft live. Along with managing his resources to stay alive, Reid must also scavenge materials to expand his ever-growing farm. Progress is very smooth and fast, especially when workdays are compounded by easy-to-do bulletin board requests.
From building storage sheds to Iron Maiden filtration systems to purifying sludge into water, there’s no shortage of different types of facilities Reid can build or retrofit. The only problem with the game’s design is how the developers prevent the player from making too much progress by tying story progression to Reid’s skill tree.
Deadcraft is the kind of game that allows players to set their own goals and explore possibilities. It can be disappointing to know you’ve hit an arbitrary wall because you need to meet certain story requirements before you can craft a more advanced zombie turret or a devastating new electric guitar.
The other module to Deadcraft is crafting that comes in two varieties: traditional crafting for crafting basic day-to-day items, and zombie crafting for deserters who know the dead. Functionally, it’s no different from ordinary craftsmanship, but the imaginative and humorous presentation helps sell it.
Brief animations of Reid doing his farming usually have him doing the most ridiculous actions to accomplish his crafting. Whether he’s burying bodies in the ground like a serial killer or putting a corpse on a jigsaw, the gruesome imagery is played for laughs and punctuated by a dismembered zombie hand giving an approving thumbs up.
Aesthetically, Deadcraft definitely looks like an Unreal Engine 4 indie game made for Nintendo Switch hardware. The artistic direction of Deadcraft helps elevate the visuals and infuse it with a deliciously rebellious ’90s punk-manga flavor you don’t often see anymore.
There’s abundant use of stippled textures to further accentuate the manga influences, with plenty of deep black shading to bring out the harsh edges. If you squint, it looks like a more heroes Game.
To further emphasize the punk theme of Deadcraft, the music borrows a lot from punk music. The various sound cues and leitmotifs are often performed with a very heavy and crisp sounding electric guitar. Sometimes it feels like the game is growling at the player, challenging them to play.
The voice acting is only used for major scenes and sounds like the kind of performances heard in mid-gen games on the PlayStation 2. That’s no downside against Deadcraft and perfectly matches the style and splatter sensibilities of the game’s tone.
Unfortunately, the only aspect of DeadcraftThe gameplay of not meeting its vibe, is in its difficulty. It’s very easy to get dirty and filthy and buy all the town’s stock for the week due to the abundance of certain resources.
Slime is one of the most common resources in the game. It can be found everywhere and players can get tons of it for free in their own base. Merchants in towns have no funds limit and players can effectively sell this muddy water to them endlessly and then buy the entire store resources through the mud trade.
Slime is just one of the plentiful and easily found resources that players can easily dump at Merchant Shops. Combined with easy to pick up quests for side missions, there’s no way for players to struggle. The atmosphere of Deadcraft really need a more punishing or harsher game difficulty to best capture the post-apocalypse feeling.
Being able to amass massive amounts of resources also makes most battles with hordes of the undead or wasteland thugs much easier, as Reid will be able to create an unbeatable army of zombies. As if an army of armed undead wasn’t enough, the ridiculous amount of options that Deadcraft offers means a craftable item for almost any situation.
Fences, several varieties of different mines and even guns or explosives are on the table. That’s not even counting the special zombie attacks that sweep huge swaths across the screen; all of which can be upgraded to make Reid an undead god of death.
Even if it leans a little too easily on the difficulty, Deadcraft is a total joy to play and keeps on giving thanks to the challenging farming and harvesting gameplay. On Xbox Series S, the game ran as well as it could; locked at 60 frames per second regardless of the number of enemies on screen. Load times were quick and after over 30 hours not a single crash or bug occurred.
Deadcraft is a game for those who feel rune factory is too sweet with its pastel visuals and female character designs and needed a lot more punk nihilism. It may not have the dazzling plating of a AAA production, but Deadcraft will attract gamers with its creativity and style.
Our Deadcraft review was conducted on Xbox Series S using a copy provided by XSEED Games. You can find additional information on Niche Gamer’s Review/Ethics Policy here. Deadcraft is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.