I absolutely LOVE this game, and I will make no bones about that fact. It is fast, furious, addictive carnage that has eaten my free time with the same wild abandon that my 8-year-old devours cake. Despite this, I can easily see that some gamers may not be impressed with The Cabin. Certain design limitations could grate on some, and the breadth of the content does not match the depth of the gameplay loop.
But honestly, I don’t care. Journalistic objectivity aside, I BLOODY LOVE THIS GAME and if you’ll forgive me for the indulgence, I intend to review it from that consciously biased point of view.
THE STORY SO FAR
From a narrative standpoint, there is not a lot that you need to know in Drop Dead: The Cabin. The game acts as a prequel of sorts to Soul Assembly’s previous title, Drop Dead: Dual Strike. There are some pleasing callbacks to that game’s unhinged protagonist, Dr Monday, but nothing so heavily cerebral that you need to have played the other game to follow the plot.
Players begin having woken up in an unsettling forest setting with no idea where they are or what might be happening. In short order, you find out that you are now part of a hideous experiment involving everyone’s favourite virtual punching bags…zombies. From there, the game sheds any need for story and doubles down on intense action and fast-paced, visceral carnage.
NO NAZIS HERE
There’s some fundamental common ground between The Cabin and the hit 2009 Call of Duty DLC, Nazi Zombies. You begin in an enclosed space and soon enough, Zombies start to pull panels off the boarded-up windows in an attempt to get in. As you kill said zombies, you accrue points that act as a currency of sorts, allowing you to open doors to new areas and loot crates full of slaughter-based goodies.
At that point, however, the similarities fade away, and The Cabin begins to assert itself as a decidedly more nuanced affair. Although set within a wave-based scenario, The Cabin is far from just another wave shooter. Unlike its aforementioned spirit animal, this game has a clear objective and an actual way to win, but you are going to need nerves of steel and a few hours of practice to get there.
LOST IN THE WOODS
Each run begins in the titular cabin. However, players are free to choose which path out of the cabin they wish to take. After escaping the initial creepy confines, there is a decent-sized external area to explore, complete with locked doors, huts, and crates beckoning the player to take a chance and spend their points on some hidden loot or weapon.
The first few rounds will invariably happen in these areas but survive long enough, and the game will force you deeper into the woods. There are several tertiary sections within the game, however only one will be available to take per run. These sections tend to see the difficulty increase and provide mini missions to survive amidst the knife-edge tension of sheer survival.
Although each run has the same beginning and end goal, the relentless barrage of mayhem that ensues ensures that every run is unique. Underpinning the chaos are seemingly simple fetch-and-defend tasks necessary to access the final stage of the game. Following that, the only thing left to do is summon your best Arnie impression and “GET TO THE CHOPPER!!” Sounds easy enough! That shouldn’t be a problem now, should it?
It ‘effin is.
TRIAL BY ORDEAL
From the very beginning, The Cabin sets about engulfing the player in a stylish vignette of action and mystery. The broader premise and objectives are all covered in the tutorial, but enough is left unexplained to make the first dozen or so attempts frantic escapades in strategic trial and error as you try to come to grips with what it is you need to do to survive.
Then, just when you think you’ve got it, you die.
A few minutes later, you die again.
Make no mistake, Drop Dead: The Cabin is deviously and deliberately difficult. Soul Assembly have artfully introduced some roguelike progression elements in a similar vein to one of my other favourite wave survival games, Crashland. The more you play, the more perks you unlock and the more accessible the gameplay gets, almost creating an inverse difficulty curve. It’s hard to imagine players lasting more than 5–10 minutes until they’ve invested a decent amount of time dying. This fact both increases the intensity of the action and pushes the player back for “just one more go!”
The difficulty is enhanced by a fiendish level of resource scarcity that remorselessly demands that players become expert marksmen. Waste too many bullets on a single enemy, and you will quickly find yourself outnumbered and out of ammo. As your stats increase, you begin to earn perks that increase the rate that ammo becomes available and how much of it you can carry. Although still scarce, the game takes on less a sense of frustrated panic, and more a balanced, frantic fight for survival. The Cabin is good right from the beginning, but once you hit this point this game is…
SO. MUCH. GOD. DAMN. FUN!
TAKES TWO TO TANGO
Drop Dead: The Cabin offers both single-player and Co-op gameplay, but the latter is definitely where the game shines. While the single-player mode is entertaining, the game is such that it’s borderline impossible to survive solo for more than 10 minutes for all but the most hardened of players. If you are a gamer who is looking for a primarily solo experience then I would honestly not recommend picking up The Cabin as the current lack of difficulty settings make the experience prohibitively challenging.
The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone, and every element of the gameplay on offer is geared towards the 2-player co-operative mode. Clear communication and teamwork are essential as you wade through the hordes of the undead. Coordinating your strategy, calling out ammo drops, and defending each other as you are overwhelmed are not just necessary, but a huge part of the fun. Sprinting desperately through a mass of enemies to revive a fallen comrade with a hasty high five is almost as thrilling as saving your partner from certain death with a well-timed barrage of headshots.
When played as intended, with a good partner by your side, The Cabin offers some of the most addictive short-session action that I’ve encountered in VR. During our review, Omar and I collectively put in about 18 hours of gameplay and never stopped wanting to try again. I was sneaking runs into my workday. I was opting out of social events to stay at home and play. I was concocting new strategies instead of being a good parent. I was hooked.
In short, we really, really like this game.
IT’S NOT ALL SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS
It’s fair to say that, so far, this review has been glowing, but it’s important to note that this game will not appeal to everyone, and it would be remiss of me to ignore its limitations. I have in the past criticised fun games for a lack of content, and this is a fair criticism to level at The Cabin.
For starters, The Cabin offers only one map. Although this map is varied with the majority of it locked and only certain areas accessible in each run, the fact remains that after a few hours, you will have seen it all. Also, every run starts in the cabin, and the first few minutes end up feeling very similar.
Similarly, the range of weapons and enemy types on offer is just enough. The weapon selection feels deliberately small as a way of reinforcing the difficulty and reliance on skill (GIT GUD), but there is definitely room for improvement here. Additional weapons that lean into the ammo scarcity motif would keep the difficulty high but provide players with more options, which are currently lacking. Similarly, special weapons that allow a time-limited burst of ultra-violence would be a fantastic addition, giving players a one-time-only way of escaping certain death.
All in all, it is highly conceivable that many players will find the offering in The Cabin disappointingly sparse, and this is the main reason this review won’t score the game even higher.
PURPLE SPLATS AND RAT-A-TAT-TATS
Graphically, Drop Dead: The Cabin is a class act. The art direction is superb, carrying the cartoonish style from Dual Strike over faithfully while simultaneously giving it a creepy overhaul to make it feel more intimidating without becoming disturbing. The environments are dark and brooding without being obscure or relying on a fog palette to hide the draw distance or create an atmosphere.
The enemies are distinct and well-animated, and the overall effect of a stylised haunted forest with experimental zombie adversaries is an absolute joy to inhabit. Another great touch is the ability to use your Meta avatars, which adds a great connection to the action. Even though the art style of the avatars doesn’t quite match the rest of the game, it is easy to disregard this in the heat of action and, as such, it doesn’t create a disconnect. In fact, it’s actually supremely engaging to look over your shoulder and see a proper representation of your friend rather than a random character model. I hope that more games take a chance and employ this feature.
The sound design is equally excellent, with solid-sounding weapons, imposing enemy noises and a soundtrack that perfectly rises and falls in line with the action. Overall, the sound enhances every tangible element of the game’s tone and character and makes it easy to understand everything happening around you quickly and efficiently, no matter how chaotic the action gets. Bravo.
UNDEAD AND LOVING IT
Drop Dead: The Cabin manages to be so much more than merely the sum of its parts. While there are limited elements that may put some players off, the simple fact is that with a good partner, The Cabin offers some of the most enjoyable and intense short-session action currently available on the Quest – highly recommended.
Drop Dead: The Cabin
TLDR : Summary
Drop Dead: The Cabin manages to be much more than merely the sum of its parts. While some elements may put some players off the simple fact is that with a good partner, The Cabin offers some of the most enjoyable and intense short-session action currently available on the Quest.