It’s been an interesting couple of months for the developers at Arcade Distillery. They made their Kickstarter debut in October with Sideshow’s Court of the Dead: Underworld Rising. The massively ambitious project ultimately failed to reach its $250,000 funding goal. After taking a month to let the dust settle, Arcade Distillery is back with a new, slightly altered project, Plague Road.
Seeking a far more modest, $30,000 on Kickstarter, this dark fantasy weaves the tale of a city consumed from withing by disease. The Plague Doctor, who once abandoned the city, must now battle their way back to uncover the truth of what happened there. As the doctor travels they will encounter infected abominations and plague survivors to attack or aid.
Survivors can return to the safety of the doctor’s farm, which they will expand and rebuild. Stronger survivors can also join the expedition to the city center, the heart of the infection. Players will have to think strategically about where survivors will be most beneficial. Due to the need of stamina to complete most actions it’s also important to decide which battles are worth fighting. There will not be many chances to replenish the party’s limited stamina.
Areas are procedurally generated and offer their own threats and opportunities. The closer a region is to the city the more the plague has affected it. With greater risk comes greater rewards, but even small mistakes can be devastating to the mission.
A strategy roguelike, Plague Road is similar to it’s predecessor in art and mechanics. Combat takes place on a turn-based grid. Party members can be strategically positioned to exploit their enemies weakness. Players must carefully construct their party to survive beast encounters and overcome specific objectives as they progress.
Overall, Plague Road has a far more competent campaign than I’d expect to see this late in the year. Which brings up a minor issue. The campaign launched on Cyber Monday here in the states, which heralds the arrival of the Holiday shopping season. While the timing of Court Of The Dead’s Kickstarter launch was perhaps a bit questionable, Plague Road’s is almost comically catastrophic. That’s not to say funding is impossible, but asking for money during the prime gift buying season is definitely an additional burden.
My only other issue with Plague Road, and one which will undoubtedly fall into unpopular opinion category, is that Jim Sterling is the narrator. I realize that this is probably a selling point for many potential backers, but for me Jim’s voice is just far too distinct to convey the atmosphere and tension present in the rest of the game. During the Kickstarter trailer I kept waiting for him to drop an errant “chungus” for good measure, (he doesn’t, sorry to disappoint).
Plague Road is in development for PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and Xbox One. Its PC release is tentatively scheduled for summer 2017. The console releases are expected shortly afterwards.
(Ed: Conrad Zimmerman is a member of the Arcade Distillery team. Conrad briefly worked with Cliqist as a Copy Editor. He left on October 1st to pursue other projects. Joanna Mueller was a forum administrator for Destructoid while both Conrad and Jim worked there, but never worked directly with either. No coverage considerations have been granted based on this.)