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Dead Underground

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Rating: 4.1/5 (53 votes)
Comments (38) | Views (5,418)

Dead Underground

KimberlyThe apocalypse has come in the form of hostile zombie takeover (no big surprise there, am I right?). A few survivors have taken to the subway tunnels in an effort to survive. Okay, the premise may not be so original, but that's the basis of the work in progress strategy game Dead Underground, from Smudged Cat Games.

Dead UndergroundThe characters available for you to control are on the left, who are also represented on the map by green dots. Click to choose a survivor, and the corresponding dot will turn red (or vice-versa). Right click or [shift] click to select a location for the survivor to travel to. You can pause the game anytime by pressing the [space bar], which allows you to freeze time while you send all the characters on their way. You start with one base camp, indicated by the glowing blue circle around the station. Whenever any characters are here, they heal up and perform research. You can control what to focus research on with the sliding scale in the bottom right of the screen. Choose between faster movement, creating napalm, and finding a cure. While a weapon and running are useful, keep in mind that you have to fully research the cure to win the game. Keep a character in a station for a long enough period of time, and she will start to set up another camp for healing and research.

Events are what drive the game, and they happen frequently. Blue events are helpful to you, as they are most often items for you to retrieve. Guns increase attack power, shoes increase movement speed, glasses increase research speed, and a cross turns a survivor into a healer. Sometimes another survivor is found and you'll need to send someone to rescue him. A green skull means a zombie infestation. Zombies start in one station and if you don't send your defenses in time, they slowly shamble down the tunnel until another station is infected, thus making them harder to contain. The more people you send, the faster they will be defeated, and while it's imperative to rid yourself of these attacks as soon as possible, keep an eye on the health of your survivors. If they all die, it's game over.

Though still under development, Dead Underground is a very enjoyable gaming experience. Hopefully we'll see improvements in the near future, such as different difficulty levels, or more specific ways to level up your characters. If you're feeling a need to save humanity today, Dead Underground is the perfect way to satisfy that craving.

Play Dead Underground


Oh my gosh I love this game you don't even know.

Also I am learning my way around the underground after decades of reading about it. In tutorial I encountered not being able to go between Angel and Moorgate in the shortest distance, which was odd.


One nibbler, the whole thing where red is used to highlight sets off all the wrong messages in essentially an infection game.


I haven't yet seen any of my survivors expand the base to include another station. This might be because I'm beating the game rather quickly -- it looks like I can finish a run in about 10-15 minutes.

Having an extra outpost might be helpful, but seeing that I can win pretty fast, it might not even be necessary.


@HeroForge, you have to station them there for a long time. The same timer that shows up for recruiting people will start to grow. It's hard to see because it's the same color as some of the lines. I've set up 3 on my last play, with more to go.


Since it's fairly easy to win, I've set up my own challenge: retake the city, i.e. retake all of the stations.
My best was 17 stations until I died 11:41 in when I over extended myself.
See if you can do better, remember not to research the cure, and that you can take stations that don't have a circle.


I just managed to retake the city, in 20 minutes, 40 seconds (and then completed the game by making the cure for a final time of 22 minutes, 31 seconds). I'm sure I could do it in less, but overall, I really enjoyed this game, and am looking forward to future developments.


I know this is intuitive to people in big cities with big public transportation, but multiple skulls at a junction doesn't mean the zombies are stronger, just that it's a junction so it's really one unit.

This could use some levels of difficulty, like doing it with fewer people.

computermaster124816 January 11, 2014 2:32 PM

How do you change the focus of research? I can't figure out the controls for that?

Jamilworm January 11, 2014 2:37 PM

To change the research focus you click the triangle in the bottom right and move the circle towards the thing you want to focus on (or in between to focus on multiple things at once).

The first 2 times I played I forgot that you could pause, and I died around 10 minutes. It's hard that way! Then I remembered you could pause and won around 9 minutes. I'm gonna try taking the whole city now.

computermaster124816 January 11, 2014 2:47 PM

@Jamilworm: I click the triangle, nothing happens. I try right-clicking it, nothing happens. Seems I'm stuck in neutral there. (I also can't get the napalm controls the game states to work.)

If it matters, I've using Chrome version 31.0.1650.63 m.


If you've opened the triangle, then drag that target around the triangle?

computermaster124816 January 11, 2014 3:44 PM

Before, I couldn't even open it. However, now it works. Power of the post. Thank you.

exeterkered January 12, 2014 1:19 PM

Awesome game!

My best time so far for finding the cure is just under 4 minutes, at 03:59.95! I immediately sent all survivors to the center camp to use for attack sorties, set all research to finding the cure, and eventually picked up one extra survivor and some research spectacles. By the time I had two research bars left to find the cure, I stopped sending out survivors for any reason. I kept all 5 of them in the camp, frantically working on the cure as the zombies filled the tunnels. :D

As another player posted, there's a more challenging goal to take over all the points of the Underground, which I managed to do in just over 20 minutes, with a total of 12 survivors. I first set all research to speed/attack enhancement until it was full, then switched to napalm research (which becomes necessary as the zombie invasion frequency increases), until I had taken all points. ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US! ;)

A useful thing to note is that zombies cannot invade where there is a survivor OR a camp. So the more camps you build (and the more survivors you have scattered about), the fewer entry points the zombies have to attack. This makes for an awesome opportunity for strategy and adds an entirely new dimension to the game when you set the goal of taking the whole Underground.

Another interesting feature that may go unnoticed is the fact that research bonuses apply not only to the goals in the research triangle, but also to establishing a camp! That means that extra survivors at a setup point will increase the speed at which the camp is established. Research spectacles increase the rate as well, so put those bespectacled survivors to good use. :)

Several people have posted that there should be varying difficulty levels, but I think they just haven't seen the inherent possibilities. With the clock ticking, there's incredible challenge and replay value in trying to beat your fastest time for both goals: finding the cure or taking all points of the Underground.

My only complaint about the game is the ridiculous spike in system resources when I use napalm. I don't know whether it's my CPU or my graphics card (both are quite capable), but when I use napalm, the game slows to a crawl until the napalm graphics disappear. This must be due to some fault in the programming.

Other than that, this is a brilliant game!

So far, my fastest times are:
Find the Cure - 3:59.95
Take the Underground - 20:48.41

What are YOUR fastest times?! :D

exeterkered January 12, 2014 1:25 PM

Gah, I should have hidden my strategies under spoiler tags in the first two paragraphs, but I can't edit it now. :/

[Done! Spoilers tags now added to keep strategies super secret. ;) -elle]

Jamilworm January 12, 2014 5:04 PM

Another useful note:

It has already been mentioned that Zombies won't spawn where you have a camp or a survivor, but I also noticed that they won't spawn where you have even started to set up camp. If you leave a survivor on a station just long enough to get a sliver of blue, then you can move him along to another station a zombies will not enter there.

So if you want to take the whole map, a good strategy is to start camps everywhere until zombies stop spawning, then just go station to station finishing the camps.

If this game is going to be developed further, maybe they should allow zombies to enter at partially built camps, but maybe have the camp slowly get unbuilt before the zombies start spreading to other stations.


wow. I can't beat this game. I get about.. 10 minutes in and starts to be overwhelmed.

anyone have tips on what to do if the zombies take over 2 stations in a line. I try to camp the one to beat them back but end up loosing survivors even if i park 3. do i gotta attack all the infected stations at once?

Jamilworm January 12, 2014 5:55 PM

Ashiel I've never had the zombies spread to another station. I'd suggest spreading your survivors out more so that you'll be able to get someone to the zombies faster. I wouldn't try to keep everyone at the center camp.


Ashiel, see my note on junction stations.

Jamilworm January 12, 2014 7:58 PM

I actually think the junction stations are harder to defeat. I have had zombies enter at Kings Cross and Paddington early on in the game, sent a survivor there to kill them, and a single survivor wasn't enough. The zombie zone would stay still or keep increasing slowly and I had to have 2 people at least to push them back. I think what matters isn't actually the number of white circles a station has but how many tunnels out there are. Kings Cross has 10 tunnels out (if you count all directions) and I think that makes it 5 times harder to defeat than for example Queensway with only 2 paths out.


This is a brilliant game with quite a lot of potential for expansion! I managed to take the underground and cure the disease 19:18, without using any napalm. Being able to pause for "strategy" helps, as the selecting of survivors by dragging a rectangle doesn't always work first time, but that's probably a limitation of the Javascript engine rather than the game itself. On correction I'd like to see is that where lines share a single set of tracks, this is reflected in how the zombies spread. For example, between Baker Street and Great Portland Street there should only be one set of tracks, so the zombies should spread faster, but be less dense. Then again I'm a tube geek, and that's one of the reasons I love this game!


Woo! Managed to retake the city with 11 survivors in 19:38. Got very lucky, with 3 sets of glasses dropping, 2 of those very early on. My base building squad took no time at all to take the last few stations.

I have to agree that zombie difficulty is based more on the number of lines attached to a given station than on the number of white nodes that represent it. The same held true for taking the stations back. Anything along the north route took much longer to start/finish building a base than any of the single-route stops did, even with the exact same group of survivors working on them.

davejohnson January 13, 2014 6:16 AM

19:05 to take the underground and finish the cure. Great game!

Jamilworm January 13, 2014 9:48 PM

Just took underground and found cure in 18:41.

exeterkered January 14, 2014 12:30 AM

Found the cure in 3:36!
(I honestly did not think it was possible to beat 3:59, but my patrol person had a gun, and the spawns stayed in the same vicinity for a little while, near the Bank-Monument station.)

I also managed to take the Underground in 17:37, using Jamilworm's camp-start exploit. Without using the exploit, and making each survivor finish a camp before moving on to another, my best time is 18:49.

When taking all the stations in the Underground, I get my attack/speed boosted to four bars as quickly as possible, then position all but one of my survivors at key locations on the outer lines, systematically securing the perimeter first and then sweeping inward.

Invasions on the perimeter are indeed much more difficult, respective to how many lines are connected to each point, according to both the tutorial and my own observations. As someone noted, this phenomenon isn't actually how the real London Underground works. It must be based on an assumption gotten from the map design, which is not an actual representation of the tube tunnels themselves, but is instead a brilliantly clear illustration of the lines' relationships and connection points for the benefit of passengers. ;)

exeterkered January 14, 2014 4:21 AM

Cure in 3:30.61

I have honestly been getting a lot of other things done besides playing this game, I promise. :P

Mick James January 14, 2014 11:39 AM

Surely the final move is always

Mornington Crescent


silent george January 14, 2014 3:04 PM

Brilliant game, high replay value, fun for all sorts of obsessives.

Any tips for getting the cure in under 5 minutes? I've sort of hit a wall at around 6 minutes, maxing out survivor power before concentrating on the cure. Ignoring power makes it impossible to survive long enough.


I really enjoyed this game, but it really struggled to run on my computer; an in-game second took closer to five. It's partly my computer's fault, but I was surprised by how cpu intensive it was for a game with barely any graphics.

Jamilworm January 14, 2014 8:06 PM

17:35! This game has surprisingly high replay value.

silent george January 16, 2014 2:09 PM

18:32 for clearing and the cure, using the exploit.

(I like the exploit�it makes sense. It wouldn't take very long for survivors to board up a tube stop, and there is a delay before that happens, but it would take a long time to turn it into an R&D/hospital facility.)

Now to try and break the 5-min mark for cure-only ...

exeterkered January 17, 2014 12:24 AM

Found the cure in 3:13.65. Apparently, the only thing better than a gun for the first item drop is...research glasses. O-O

exeterkered January 17, 2014 1:12 AM

@silent george: Chance plays a large role in the finding the cure quickly, but so does proper planning and protocol. Here are some tips to find the cure in under 5 minutes:

Set all your research immediately to finding the cure. I've tried it various ways, and found that time is always lost if there's a delay in researching the cure, even for the speed/attack boost.

Stick with the gun for the first item drop. Research glasses are clearly great too (considering my new best time), but much more difficult to plan around, and much more reliant on luck. Because it's so much faster at quelling an invasion, the gun consistently saves more time than any other item. It's also the only thing that ensures that your roaming zombie responder has the firepower to stop invasions on the north lines without assistance. And assistance means taking someone away from research, which you want to avoid if possible. If you don't get the gun on the first drop, just start over. You can always try other items once you've gotten your time down using the gun. :-)

Use the pause to optimize your time. Pause at every drop event - zombie invasions, item drops, new survivor. While paused, select your responder and direct them to the drop, then unpause. Watch all responders in the field, and pause the moment they finish their objective - killing zombies, retrieving items, or rescuing new survivors. Select the ready party or parties, direct them back to base camp, then unpause. Every second you save in response time is more time devoted to finding the cure.

If the first invasion happens anywhere on the heavy north lines, from Paddington to Liverpool Street, just restart the game. Unless you get lucky and a gun drops somewhere near your closest responder, it will take two responders to quell the invasion... and slowly, at that. You'll lose too much research time, so it's better to just avoid that scenario altogether.

Try to keep everyone else in the research camp, with only your armed patrol person in the field to respond to invasions. Sometimes you'll have to send out another invasion responder, but the farther out you send them, the more it will affect your research time.

If your new survivor is close enough, send two rescuers from camp instead of one. The time saved in rescuing the survivor can gain you seconds of added research time back at camp. If you're lucky, your armed patrol might be close enough to help with that briefly, gaining you valuable time.

There are some things that will affect your time that are purely up to chance: distance between invasions, difficulty of invasions (those in the middle being faster and easier to resolve), proximity of drops (i.e. items and new survivors) to your responders, etc.

Good luck, and go find that cure! :D

silent george January 17, 2014 11:49 AM

Excellent; thanks for the tips, Exeterkered.


The game's been updated, now there is a difficulty option. Also, your survivors seem to lose health over time.


Just managed to beat Hard mode, in 13:27, using the "partially camp to block an entry point" exploit

I don't think you can beat it without Taking The Underground (or at least, not without effectively doing so)

Some thoughts...

Start at the Eastern side of the map, blocking the major terminuses over there, then filling in the minor stations.
Once you have a solid block extend it slowly, being sure to kill any zombies that arrive close to your cleared zone.

Use as few survivors as possible to kill incursions, but if there's a big one, on one of the hard stations send all of your men to clear it ASAP and get your survivors back to doing something productive.

Whenever possible always leave 1 man on a station that you're in the process of capturing, so that you don't have to "start again" on it.

Try to minimise the travelling you're doing where convenient - travel time doesn't progress you at all.


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