Dead Ahead, released last week on iTunes, is a wonderful little endless runner-style game in which a pleasantly pixelated protagonist escapes from hordes of zombies on a motorcycle. It's got a wonderful style, mostly solid controls, and it's a heck of a lot of fun to play, but that's not what's important right now.
She's what's important.
Parking Mania developer Mobirate kicks off the Dead Ahead experience with an animated cutscene that loosely lays out the game's premise. A guy and a girl find themselves alone in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. They have to escape. A motorcycle seems like a good enough means of doing so. And there's Zombie Free Hug Girl, in all her glory.
The animation is sketchy and striking and all I can think about as I play through the game is finding out more about these characters. Where did Zombie Free Hug Girl come from? What was she doing when she died? What was she like? Who is this couple? Did they know her? Were they part of a band? I bet they were a band.
Silly questions, but illustrative of the disconnect between the brief narrative and the ensuing action. As satisfying as it is to mow down zombies on a motorbike survival ride, collecting coins to upgrade weapons and equipment to facilitate longer, more difficult runs, it's really hard to focus on the action when I can't get Zombie Free Hug Girl out of my head. It got so bad that I deleted the game and reinstalled it, just to watch the opening movie again.
Once you get over the opening scene, Dead Ahead is a really solid endless rider. You steer, shoot, and speed through the milling undead, shambling husks exploding pleasingly against your ride. My only complaint is I would have loved for the controls for moving the bike up and down along the screen could be remapped from the right side, where my thumb obscures oncoming obstacles.
Some of us will just never get over that opening screen.
Genre: endless rider / shooter Developer: Mobirate Platform: iOS Price: free Get Dead Ahead from the iTunes App Store.