Dead Frontier: Outbreak


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GrimmrookDead Frontier: OutbreakFor many of us, Choose Your Own Adventure books ("gamebook") hold a special place in the muddled mess of nostalgia and memory that was once our childhood. Countless lazy Sunday afternoons, unending car rides on family vacations, and late nights spent with the sheets pulled over our heads and flashlights illuminating the yellowing pages were the backdrops to these adventures. The world of the familiar would slowly melt away as we picked our way through ancient tombs, crept through alien spaceships, or explored foreboding castles. And then, as so many other aspects of our childhood, they faded away like ghosts, transforming from late night nail-biting adventures into little more than fond vague memories. With Dead Frontier: Outbreak, creator Neil Yates resurrects the gamebook and updates it for a more adult (and less squeamish) audience.

Outbreak follows an unnamed cubicle slave just grinding his way through another day at work, the worst possible future he could imagine being some inconsiderate co-worker failing to refill the coffee pot. Indeed, his humdrum life is so unprepared for what is about to happen that when the scream comes, he at first thinks it's someone over reacting to a spider or something. This blissfully ignorant world view doesn't survive much longer before it is shattered by the dark reality of what has happened; a virus is rampaging its way through the populace, turning all who become infected into mindless, deadly, zombies.

As the horror of the moment sets in, our anonymous protagonist can think only of his wife and hopefully getting to her before she too falls victim to the rapidly spreading epidemic. This is where you come in. At just about every turning point in the narrative, you will be required to decide between several actions the protagonist can take. Choose wisely, and the hero lives at least for a few more moments until the next life and death decision comes along. Choose poorly, and you're either zombie, or zombie food, I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter which.

You won't be needing lightning fast reflexes for this zombie romp, though. Nor will you have to pick out ammo from unlikely places or practice sniper like aim. None of these skills will be tested. What will be tested is your imagination and your judgment. If you've nerves of steel, get going. Actually, you better get going anyway, lest you join the ranks of the living dead.

Dead Frontier: OutbreakAnalysis: First it should be mentioned that Outbreak isn't for everyone. For one, it's text based so there's all kinds of reading and not a lot of physical action to be carried out on your part. Also, Outbreak can get pretty gory and is not for the squeamish.

For those who aren't put off by the gore and don't mind a game that is mostly reading, Dead Frontier: Outbreak has an awful lot to offer. In some ways, Outbreak is somewhat like Interactive Fiction, the strength of the writing combining with the strength of your imagination to create your own private landscape of fantasy. Unlike Interactive Fiction, though, all of your options are multiple choice and merely a mouse click away. Thus, like Llama Adventure, Outbreak can be viewed as Interactive Fiction for those who just never really quite developed the knack for it.

Hardcore IF enthusiasts, as a result, may crave a level of immersion that is deeper than Outbreak provides. If this is the case, it isn't for a lack of trying on Outbreak's part. Aside from the writing (which I'll get to in a bit), Outbreak seeks to suck you in with plenty of ambient goodies. Your ears are treated to a suitably eerie musical track, whilst your eyes are allowed to wonder over various settings rendered in monochromatic hues that pulse subtly in the background. You're afforded this chance to take in the scenery by the voice acting that actually reads the text for you. Largely, this voice acting is okay, we've definitely heard worse, but it just feels a tad shy of being just right. This is excusable at least in part because zombie stories are rarely seen of as high art, and some flaws are not only allowed but expected.

No, the great sin with the sounds, both the music and the voice acting, is that you can't turn them off. You can click the screen to cut off the voice-over and bring up the entirety of the text immediately, but if the voice is getting on your nerves, there's no way to mute it. The music, which is well chosen, does get repetitive, but the only way you're getting rid of that is to turn down or mute your computer's volume.

This is fine because even though some thought and work was put into the amenities, what really shines in Outbreak is the story and your role in it. The lead in is pretty standard fare for your contemporary zombie plot, complete with apocalyptic viral scenarios, but Yates overcomes the near cliche open by focusing on immersion. What strikes me as remarkable is the believability not of the situation, but of the reactions to the situation. In the beginning, our hero rightly doesn't even register what's happening, and he never turns into some sort of Bruce Campbell clone, loading up on heavy weapons and going from white collared wage slave to awesome slayer of the undead.

Instead, your decisions remain sane, and often times quite tricky. You get some easy ones tossed at you here and there, but part of what really sucks you in is that so many of the options available to you are viable and during a real zombie outbreak, should one ever actually happen (hey, it could happen), you could see yourself confronted with similar dilemmas. Do you risk the few seconds and possible exposure it would take to snatch the gun on the floor, or do you make a break for the exit unarmed before the zombies notice you? As you try to drive away do you take the bulky but versatile SUV, or instead opt for the exposed but nimble motorcycle?

Should we see more installments like this, there are some improvements that would not hurt. Beyond having the option to turn the music and voice acting off, it would be much appreciated if the author was a little more lenient with the checkpoint system. Should you die (and let's face it, you probably will at least a few times), you thankfully don't have to start from the beginning, but you do have to go back to the last checkpoint. Some of the sections between checkpoints can be kind of long, though, and it can be more than a little irritating having to start over after a certain amount of progress. This is, it should be said, still an improvement over the original build where no checkpoints were offered at all. Also, getting back to the point where you died shouldn't take too long as you can click to speed up the text. Also, there are some grammar errors that may jump out at you here and there. For the most part, though, the voice over does a decent job of correcting for them.

Dead Frontier: Outbreak is definitely an interesting entry that veers off the beaten path. We may not have played anything like it since we were checking out books from our grade school library, but this is a good thing. Yates manages to deliver quite a bit of thrills and chills in a package that is unique and enjoyable, but still just short enough to where it doesn't monopolize a great deal of your time. So brush up on your zombie survival skills and try not to end up on the menu, if you can.

Play Dead Frontier: Outbreak

Walkthrough Guide


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Dead Frontier: Outbreak Walkthrough
Many of the choices have multiple "safe" answers, but some can affect your final score.

Beginning:

Turn on the radio built into my cell phone

Don't call, just go home and see if she's okay

Try to find someone to help

Take the stairs

Leave the lobby and try to escape through the rear exit

Search for a window to climb through

Go straight through the window

Checkpoint: Downtown alley

Call out to the little girl

Ignore the bus and continue down the street

Join your co-workers

Distract the infected away from the entrance so the others can get through safely

Suggest taking the jeep

Suggest taking another vehicle instead

Don't help the group - choose any of the other three vehicles.

Checkpoint: Gas station

Continue down the road without stopping

Turn around and find another route home

See if the other driver is hurt

Follow the train line

Checkpoint: Home neighborhood

Grab the infected by the neck and push him away

Grab a brick and hit him in the head with it when he gets close enough

Try to go through the neighbor's rear gardens

Checkpoint: Back yard

Go to the shed and find a weapon

Choose any weapon other than the chainsaw (but everyone knows the crowbar is the classic zombie smasher, right?)

Let the looter go

Barricade the back door

Attack John with your weapon

Continue searching the house

Choose your own style of entering the bedroom (doesn't matter?)

Kick the infected off her before attacking

Cut off her fingers and take her with you

This walkthrough rates an A in Tactics and A+ in Compassion. I haven't managed to get A+ in both in the same game, and I'm not sure if that's possible.

41 Comments

Think you described it enough, Kyle?

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We are a review site, Cyberjar. ;)

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This is a great idea for a game. Maybe interactive fiction people won't like it, but I find IF too hard and frustrating.

BTW, thank you for pointing out that you can't turn down the sound! I hate that. I like to listen to podcasts while I play casual games.

Good review.

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A second thought, after I've died a couple times. A true choose your own adventure allows you to just randomly change the game, and take different pathways. It'd be interesting to see a casual game do that, and it would raise the replay value. Perhaps one option to save the wife, another option to not.

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*shivers* Some parts were a bit too gorey for me, but luckily nothing that I haven't seen before so I'll be fine. xD;

Very nice! The colors were a bit redundant, but it matched the music and the setting, so I didn't mind. The voice was okay. I wouldn't sit down and listen to it if I had to, but I wouldn't mind not being able to skip it. Luckily, you could skip the audio by clicking on the screen, but I did that once and accidentally chose an action. Luckily, it didn't get me killed.

Very interesting. The music matched the whole situation, IMO, but maybe some music change at each checkpoint would've been a great idea. I like how some choices weren't really obvious. I had trouble choosing from time to time.

I eventually finished with 'A' for survival and compassion. I also saved the wife. *thumbs up*
I always thought surviving in these situations is interesting. You have to think clearly and try to only make the best choices, but it's also good to have compassion at times. However, you can't let your compassion overcome your reasoning because that will get you killed. It's the same the other way around sometimes, IMO. If you aren't compassionate and try to do things on your own and ditch others for yourself, it could get you cornered w/out assistance.

I'm curious for the sequal. I'm not crazy about it, but this game held my interest for quite a nice 15 or so minutes. :3 I wouldn't mind checking out the sequal when it come out!

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I got an A+ for survival and a C for compassion.

...oh god. What have I become? ;.;

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I just played it through, mapping out all the options as I went. It held my attention all the way (good writing on the whole).

I would have liked to see a more branched game. In the game you just move from choice-point to choice-point along a linear path. The choose-your-own-adventure books I read as a child were much more open-ended than this game.

I think I know what's wrong with the voice-acting...it sounds as if the narrator is casually relating the story like you would talk to a friend. It's a little too casual for a game about life and death situations.

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Yeah, I agree that more branches would have been fantastic. As I was playing, I noticed that there was only one story, really. When you choose a vehicle, it would have been interesting if choosing the sports car affected the story differently than if the motorcycle did, but instead, the story continues with you "on your vehicle of choice."

The same with the weapon. Maybe if you choose the sledge hammer it'll kill big brutes, but you'll get creamed in groups because it's too slow. Or maybe if you chose the crowbar, it would be ineffective against certain enemies for not being able to crack some skulls.

There is a lot of potential here. Hopefully we'll see something like it in a sequel.

But I dug it. I played 'till the end. Can't ask for much more, really.

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Dead Frontier: Outbreak Walkthrough
Many of the choices have multiple "safe" answers, but some can affect your final score.

Beginning:

Turn on the radio built into my cell phone

Don't call, just go home and see if she's okay

Try to find someone to help

Take the stairs

Leave the lobby and try to escape through the rear exit

Search for a window to climb through

Go straight through the window

Checkpoint: Downtown alley

Call out to the little girl

Ignore the bus and continue down the street

Join your co-workers

Distract the infected away from the entrance so the others can get through safely

Suggest taking the jeep

Suggest taking another vehicle instead

Don't help the group - choose any of the other three vehicles.

Checkpoint: Gas station

Continue down the road without stopping

Turn around and find another route home

See if the other driver is hurt

Follow the train line

Checkpoint: Home neighborhood

Grab the infected by the neck and push him away

Grab a brick and hit him in the head with it when he gets close enough

Try to go through the neighbor's rear gardens

Checkpoint: Back yard

Go to the shed and find a weapon

Choose any weapon other than the chainsaw (but everyone knows the crowbar is the classic zombie smasher, right?)

Let the looter go

Barricade the back door

Attack John with your weapon

Continue searching the house

Choose your own style of entering the bedroom (doesn't matter?)

Kick the infected off her before attacking

Cut off her fingers and take her with you

This walkthrough rates an A in Tactics and A+ in Compassion. I haven't managed to get A+ in both in the same game, and I'm not sure if that's possible.

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Wow, I really enjoyed that!

I got an A for survival and an A+ for compassion, although some of the choices I made were different from schep's.

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IF's are okay for me and, as long as there aren't any "popping" things (which is why I'm wary of Alice is Dead), I'll check this out.

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That was scary >.<

I ended up with a A+ in survival and B in compassion. I guess you just can't be compassionate and survive at the same time. :P

eyra

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I'll sleep easier knowing that I have the skills to survive an actual zombie outbreak. Phew.

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I agree with CyberJar88 - the review seems to contain more text then is the game!

Is this really necessary? Apart from anything else it makes me expect a far more substantive game then I got. It also takes me longer to read, and I suspect some people wouldn't bother to.

You've had a few comments about review length before. I thought I'd add this to the pile because I love this site! But as the reviews get longer I find myself turning to other sources - causal games like this just don't need that much analysis (some more 'arty' ones maybe, but this?)

But since we're discussing this, I'd add the writing isn't particularly good (why does it break the fourth wall to tell us which group we choose is a good choice for example? - this kind of thing should be revealed in how the game works out) and I think I remember a few spelling/grammar mistakes.

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Some people just get excited at good games I guess. And although the review was kinda long, they did make sense.

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A+ for survival.
E for compassion?!

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i got an A for survival, A+ for compassion, AND i saved the wife. yay!

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I only meant that the review seemed a little longer than others have in the past.

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Long reviews don't bother me - I just skip the analysis until after I've played the game, then I might go back to read that part. But maybe a section of the review should deal with 'tips', like how to switch a game to an English translation, or, for this game, the fact that you could skip the voice acting by clicking the screen.

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Ah, and I see by not reading the analysis, I missed that part. That's what I get for being so lazy and such a smartie pants.

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I got an "A" in both tactics and compassion, though I don't know why my compassion was so high because:

I didn't try to save the office girl

I didn't check on the little girl in the street

I didn't check on the other driver

The only thing I did was let the looter go, oh, and try to find my wife

I liked it overall though.

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I really liked this game, although it doesn't have as much replay value as it should. I understand the plot being linear, but it could have branched out a little bit more. I'd love to have more games like it.

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JakeIsGames Author Profile Page September 26, 2009 3:42 AM

I really liked this game. Extra-casual, no dexterity required. Can you post more like it?

Why hasn't someone made a game generator that lets you make choose-your-own-adventure flash games like this?

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NeEdLeSs NoOdLeS Author Profile Page September 27, 2009 12:33 PM

I'm only on the beginning and already I'm reminded of the book Cell by Stephen King.

And I could only get halfway through that.

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NeEdLeSs NoOdLeS Author Profile Page September 27, 2009 1:06 PM

So I passed with a A/B. Very nice game. Definitely reminds me of Cell.

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I got an A in survival and an F in compassion. Guess I was just too ready to bash in some skulls and leave everyone to die. I didn't find it gorey, really, just descriptive, although when I cut off my wife's hand, it sort of got to me. All in all, I liked it, and played it several times seeing what scores I could get.

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brokenrecord Author Profile Page September 28, 2009 1:57 AM

"Take a shortcut through the cornfield" NO! I'm already in a zombie movie, I'm not reliving Children of the Corn.

Great game :)

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when presented with the answer " take a short cut through the corn field", i said knew somthing bad from looking at pic from left 4 dead. anyway, great game. i wish it would be more like the real choose your own adventure games.

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Nice. A little less gory and realistic than I usually like my games (and films), but it was easy to get into and entertaining to play. Also good to see there are more than one "right" outcomes possible (the first time I did everything right and ended up hanging myself anyway.) Only thing I'd add is a bit more gameplay time. And a lot more gore, of course.

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I kept dying repeatedly because I was apparently being too compassionate. I kept stopping to help everyone and got 'hands on' in trying to aid them. After dying a dozen times, I instead ditched trying to help anyone and just pick the answers I thought would get me through the game.

So I ended up with an A for survival but an 'F' for compassion! To add insult to injury, it called me sick in the end, that I didn't care about anyone but myself and my own survival. LMAO! That was hysterical. I did TRY to help! LOL!

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A for survival, B in compassion. I would have got higher in compassion, but once I chose to, for example

check to see if the guy in the other vehicle was OK, then found out it was a waste of time (he had been infected) after I died I just continued on foot.

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Nice game. I got B I think in tactics but A+ in compassion. I do have a wife IRL so no way I'd kill her :P Nah, jk. I actually got F in compassion XD

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welll hahaha ! i got a+ in tactics and a f on compassion it sayed: "You're self centered, homicidal son of a bitch who would do literally anything to save your own skin"

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it was good, but showed the linearity of it when

no matter what car you pick first they will still want the jeep, and it doesn't matter what you do in the beginning you will still end up finding the lady at the end of the hall.

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Good, but lots of room for improvement. Like, the thing people have pointed out about the linearity. Those are factors, but what bugs me the most is how he says everything n this BIG, DRAMATIC, turn-the-sound-off kind of way. Even the little things like "It started like any other day..." were voiced in this "Buh buh bumm" kind of way. Also, every new screen started with a really loud (compared to the rest of the volume) buuuuuummmmm type noise, like the kind you make by falling asleep on a creepy, haunted house organ. Overall, good game. Most of my peeves were in:
-How I was judged. I can't seem to find what the game thinks is a healthy balance between super-nice compassionate type who dies trying to help people & crazy, homicidal, evil maniac who will let anyone die if he can save his own skin.
-The sound. BIG NO-NO. The 2nd one fixed this big-time, & hired a less drama-queen voice actor.
-The choices of death were odd. Like, I felt like some should be swapped. Like I know even in realistic zombie films & stuff, zombies are always pretty darn slow. That's why they SHUFFLE toward you! Despite that basic gore-lover knowledge, the game insists that I will live if I sneak out a back way, NOT if I do the logical thing & sprint outside.
A good game, just needed some tweaking. I didn't notice anything that wasn't at least improved on in #2. Bye ;p

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Umm... when you say menu do you mean the game menu or the eating menu? LOL.

I had an A for Tactics and an A for Compassion. Yay me! :D

The ending... well... it's like a classic zombie flick type of ending...

You go with your wife, pack up supplies, wait until dawn and go to your wife's parents in the countryside

The sound is kinda uncontrollable. But it's a good game overall.

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They need to have more games like this!! :D

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AnimeLover Author Profile Page July 23, 2010 2:30 PM

Finished with an A+ in Tactics and Compassion...

A+ in Tactics
Your knowledge of zombie outbreaks is unmatched and your survival skills have been honed to a razor-like edge. You'd almost certainly survive a real outbreak.

A+ in Compassion
The outbreak has given you the chance to show your true bravery and heroic nature. The well being of others is your primary concern.

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Ninjat_126 March 1, 2011 9:13 AM

I ran into a few examples of "adventure game logic" with only one answer and a bit of railroading.

It could have also done with a little bit of info on whether the zombies were lurchers or runners.

The rest was brilliant.

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Icalasari July 8, 2011 2:47 AM

Honestly, some of those decisions are sound. The character is just stupid. For example, the very first zombie you come across? I'd kill it. Then instead of going right up to the woman, I'd stand back and be ready to kill her. No sense in her screams of terror attracting MORE undead

Another example is going around the vehicles. It's the moron's fault for not paying attention and crashing. You go at a safe, reasonable speed

Although I admit that it was stupid of me to leave the house right away instead of searching. I thought that it was serious about her leaving, and was pretty PO'd about the suicide part. But yeah, I admit that leaving the house again instead of securing it for a bit, if only to get supplies, was a bad move

Also, the game was horribly misleading with the, "Which group?" choice. I thought that the coworkers were going to help the man who was with the police, so it seemed like a stupid choice to go with them at first

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Listen to your radio. Just go to her. Look for help. Stairs. Back door. Window. Go for it. Call out. Ignore. Co-workers. Distract yourself. Jeep. Another one. Leave them (doesn't matter which, all cars have a disadvantage). Drive on. Turn around. Check on him. Railroad. Grab the neck. Smash his head in. Backyards. Shed. Crowbar. Let him go. Barricade. Hit him. Search. Slowly. Kick it. Cut off.

This should equal an A in tactics and an A+ in compassion.

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