Slogging your way through the zombie apocalypse

Collectible Card Games can be tough to balance, mechanically. If things are too easy, players will get bored. If it takes too long to accomplish goals or build up a formidable deck, they’ll get frustrated. Deadman’s Cross seems to be trying to hit that sweet spot somewhere in the middle, but ultimately it misses the mark. And in many ways, it’s basically just Guardian Cross with zombies.

You assume the role of a run-of-the-mill survivor during the zombie apocalypse – one who follows the government’s instructions of staying indoors a little too closely. After three months of isolation (three months!), you finally decide to step outside. Of course the world is a wreck. Zombies, referred to as “Deadmen,” are roaming around everywhere and society pretty much doesn’t exist anymore. At least not in the same way that it used to. The only way to survive in this world is to pick up a gun and start blasting… and then recruit the defeated Deadmen as your own personal army. I swear I’m not making this up.

Deadman's Cross

Your time playing Deadman’s Cross will mostly be spent by completing jobs in order to progress and earn special items. Jobs are mostly split between wandering through hallways, hunting Deadmen to add to your collection, and having card duels with anything that moves. There’s also an arena where you can indirectly battle against other players’ Deadmen in an attempt to earn even more fantastic prizes.

Deadman’s Cross is, as I’ve mentioned, incredibly similar to Square Enix’s previously released Guardian Cross, but many of those similarities are actually its biggest strengths. Managing your horde is pretty simple and painless. You can feed unneeded Deadmen to more powerful ones in order to level them up, and it doesn’t take long before you’ll have a sizable force at your disposal.

Deadman's Cross

Hunting Deadmen is a fairly simply mini-game of sorts that involves blasting silhouettes to acquire cards – with the added randomness of not knowing exactly what character you’ll get in a given category until you’ve defeated it – and is as much reliant on skill as it is luck. The environments you’ll be wandering through while exploring also look pretty nice, even if they can be a bit repetitive. Mostly it all comes down to the cards. The various illustrations for the different Deadmen all look great, and the visual effects that kick in during a duel are pretty impressive.

Unfortunately, the game holding it all together just isn’t that interesting. Completing jobs of any kind often takes a while due to the ticket system for hunting and the energy system for exploring. It doesn’t help that there are so many X factors to both, which can make those moments when you don’t find what you need all the more frustrating.

Deadman's Cross

Similarly, there’s very little variety to the jobs. Granted there are different requirements from job to job, but it makes little difference when simply shooting at different silhouettes or wandering through the umpteenth linear hallway – even if it looks like a park instead of an abandoned hotel this time. Even the satisfaction of building up a horde of zombie soldiers disappears after a few battles; battles that are so hands-off they feel like more of a chore than the jobs themselves, even with the fancy visual effects.

Deadman’s Cross isn’t a bad CCG, really. It’s just a very bland one. All the clever card-drawing mechanics and high quality presentations in the world can’t really offset dull gameplay and unsatisfying deck building. If you enjoyed Guardian Cross or really have a thing for zombies, there’s a good chance you’ll really like Deadman’s Cross. Otherwise it probably won’t hold your interest for very long.