Dead Rising 5 prototype footage leaks

Originally published at: Dead Rising 5 prototype footage leaks | Boing Boing

Well, a five year gap between games doesn’t necessarily mean a game is canceled - there was an 8 year gap just between the trailers for Dead Island 2, after all - but the fact that the studio closed in 2018 definitely does. Hopefully someone makes the game, and if they do, they might take some elements or inspiration from any existing documentation of what was previously done - which might just be this video.

The first Dead Rising game was very polarizing with traditional gamers for some of its unconventional mechanics, but I come down on the side of it being game design genius.

One of the big problems with modern gaming is that there are no stakes. Saving and restoring is infinite and trivial. Nothing is every truly risky. However zombie worlds are all about risk management. Dead Rising took a very brave stand for that idea by doing two things that enraged many gamers:

  1. Saving was difficult. It was time consuming to get to the bathroom, and all the rescue missions were time-based. That means if you wanna save, someone is probably gonna die. That forces you to choose between the risk you’re willing to take with your progress vs the risk of completing more missions.

  2. You can’t rescue everyone. The mission structure is deliberately created such that you have to choose who you try to rescue and who you let die. This was really frustrating for completionist gamers who didn’t want to ever “fail” and expected a single “best” route through the game to exist that is total victory. Real life isn’t like that, and neither is Dead Rising.

The common theme in these brave design elements is forcing the player to make hard choices. This is what good games do, and Dead Rising does it better than any game in a very long time.

Add to that the incredible feeling of “surfing chaos” that is created when you have to move from place to place, constantly improvising for another nearby weapon when your current one breaks, and you have a total experience that raises blood pressure like nothing else.

It should be regarded as one of the highest triumphs of video game design, in my humble opinion. Instead, it generally gets scoffed at by mainstream gamers as being too weird and frustrating. Once you give in to the mindset that the game wants you to be in, it is totally transformative.

I never played any of the sequels, so I can’t comment on those.

Edit: just watched the trailer for 5, and it’s pretty darned underwhelming. If that’s the direction the sequels went in (boiler plate open world, running around killing things and doing fetch quests), then it’s disappointing. If you’ve only played the sequels, do yourself a favour and play the original. It really was a lightning-in-a-bottle kind of game design that deserves way more praise than it got.


Dead Rising had some frustrating but very deliberate design choices, like saves being rare and only one save slot. But it was also designed to strongly encourage multiple play throughs. In fact I’m not sure if it’s even really possible/practical to beat it in one go. The always ticking clock really forced a level of urgency and prioritization to what you were doing and required serious planning to meet your goals.

It’s the kind of game where you have to die and die a lot to make later runs smoother since you’d gain transferable skills and other alterations to the world that would benefit future runs. Some aspects were just bad - like the transceiver messages, clunky weapons handling, and clunky NPC AI. I remember really enjoying it despite its quirks and frustrations.

I think DR2 was probably the best in the series. It improved on many of the faults of 1. It was still really challenging but a little more forgiving in some ways. Both DR1 and 2 had this weird quirky charm to it with its Japanese interpretation of American mall and casino culture.

DR3 and DR4 became much more arcadey. Development was taken over by Capcom’s North American studios so it lost some of that Japanese qirkiness. Many of the challenging bits were removed; you could save anywhere, craft anywhere, and the ticking clock was much less consequential. They were still fun zombie killing sandboxes, and had many of the same characters and universe but they just weren’t the same. They weren’t bad, mind you, just different.

The zombie genre is so over saturated these days, and there are some genuinely great and innovative open world zombie titles like the Dying Light and State of Decay series. I don’t know if a new DR would really be relevant anymore.

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I’d go one step further and say DR1 had a distinct anti-American theme to it. :grin: That boss character The Butcher was pretty blatantly “here’s everything wrong with America and why it will always be terrible”.

I appreciated the mall setting much more though. It was more a loving tribute to everything that is wrong with America. They poke fun at malls in general in a sympathetic kind of way. That part is really well done. The aforementioned boss character was way overdone though.

It’s sort of ironic, because then the final boss character, that giant tank thing that shoots fighter planes at you while you’re trapped in an arena with it was such a stereotypically terrible piece of hackneyed Japanese game design culture. I’m sure they didn’t see it that way, though. :smile:

While we’re picking at flaws, the primary mechanic of DR1 is supposed to be the photo-taking, but it totally falls flat. Not fun to do and adds nothing to the experience. It’s a rare case of a game’s primary mechanic being a total failure, yet the game still being a huge design success in spite of that.

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