Format(s): Playstation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
One thing I love about video games is that they put you into a lot of odd situations where you have to do some pretty peculiar things. Dead Hungry, the latest release from the delightful team over at Q-Games and their first in virtual reality, certainly doesn’t shy away from the utterly bizarre – you play the role of a fast-food chef who has to keep a horde of incoming zombies fed by cooking them up a feast of burgers. Once they’re fed, they turn back human and run away gleefully, with their flesh-eating days behind them. I told you it was bizarre…
It’s worth noting that you can only play Dead Hungry with two Move controllers, so those that don’t own them will have to give it a miss. I’ve played some titles that have struggled with tracking the Move controllers, but fortunately it works perfectly here – it really needs to too, since you’ve got different cooking utensils around a 180-degree angle in front of you that are both high and low. You won’t have any issues grabbing out at food or reaching anything though, with the Move controllers feeling completely accurate throughout.
When playing Dead Hungry you’re going to get pretty stressed, but at least it’s in a fun way. I didn’t realise how chaotic working at a fast-food stall could be – you’ve got to carefully watch your food, ensure you’ve always got something cooking, make sure it doesn’t burn, and most importantly make sure your customers are well fed. There’s so much micro-management involved and if you don’t keep on top of it all you’re going to end up with zombies slicing away at you. I mean, following the standard complaint procedure would’ve sufficed, but those hungry zombies are unreasonable folk…
Whilst you can cook the likes of pizzas and fries, you’ll mainly be working on your burgers. You can customise these burgers in a variety of ways, with plenty of cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes on offer to fill them up. There are some simple recipes that are on display to begin with, but those who’re willing to experiment and go all-out with their burgers can craft towering masterpieces that’ll put both McDonalds and Burger King to shame. There are certainly opportunities to be playful in the game – plus the bigger the burger, the more satisfied the customer.
Despite the fairly simple premise, playing Dead Hungry can actually be quite difficult. You’ve got to constantly keep on top of everything that’s cooking, and with plenty of zombies marching your way you’re going to fail a lot. I actually ended up failing on the opening group of missions quite a few times just because I was useless at time keeping and checking that my food didn’t overcook, so there’s definitely a learning curve to the experience.
Once everything clicks though, cooking starts to become second nature – you’ll be slapping burgers onto your grill and getting bundles of fries ready with ease. Each level of the game gets progressively more difficult though, so there’s a good balance in place to ensure you’re constantly tested. On a side note, the sheer pace in which you’ll be forced to work during some of the later levels actually provides a decent work out too, so don’t be surprised if you get a bit of a sweat on the more you play.
The biggest flaw of Dead Hungry is that it’s lacking in variety. You’re just constantly cooking throughout and whilst you do unlock new items to cook, they don’t really change gameplay up too much and you’ll quickly get used to them. A lot of Dead Hungry’s appeal comes from its challenge instead, but when everything feels the same it’s a little hard to stay motivated to carry on playing.
Maybe it’d help if you visited an assortment of different locations, but instead you’re stuck in the same little street throughout the entirety of the game. It’s a shame too, especially since the game’s opening makes it quite clear that you’re in a mobile burger van.
This little street is hardly the most appealing of locations too, with nothing really standing out about it aside from the plethora of fast-food stalls that line up along it. The zombie inhabitants themselves aren’t exactly visual masterpieces either, with their character models looking like they might’ve come straight from a Playstation One game. Don’t get me wrong, a game doesn’t need to look great to be great, but Dead Hungry just seems to be lacking in the visual personality that you’d expect from a game that’s based around feeding a group of hungry zombies.
Despite these flaws though, it’s still fun whilst it lasts. One thing that’s certainly worth noting about Dead Hungry is the appeal that it has to the casual audience. My non-video game playing other half saw me hopelessly trying to micro-manage my little fast-food outlet, and instantly wanted to give it a go herself. She actually picked it up quite well and did a lot better than me, which was quite shameful given the number of hours I’ve invested into gaming over the years but also goes to show that Dead Hungry certainly caters for just about anyone (and not just zombies). It’s just one of those games that is incredibly accessible and easy to pick up and play, regardless of how many video games you’ve played in the past.
Dead Hungry offers a decent amount of entertainment with its mad frantic rush of fast-food cooking action, but unfortunately it lacks the variety needed to keep you hooked in for the long term. You’re always in the same spot, cooking up the same foods, and launching it at the same group of zombies – it can grow tiresome over time, even if it was enjoyable to begin with.
The game is by no means bad though, plus it’s great to play with friends when you fancy laughing at everyone’s struggles to cook up some virtual burgers. It’s just that whilst Dead Hungry does plenty of stuff right, it doesn’t necessarily do enough to keep you wanting to play it for too long.