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Dead Pixels is a 2D side-scrolling shooter with an 8-bit retro look and it incorporates some simulation and role-playing elements. The main game mode is called Dead Pixels. Set in the fictional city of New Hexington in New York, it details how on 15th July 1983 a toxic waste spill in a power plant entered the water supply and caused all deceased to rise from their graves three days later. Everyone killed by the zombies also turned into one of them and that way only five percent of the city's inhabitants was considered to be still alive. An intervention by the army failed and the city was put under quarantine until there was a solution. The player is a member of a group of survivors on the other side of the city who have found a way out. Based on the chosen difficulty level 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 streets need to be crossed to reach the way out.

The player controls a single character that can move around and shoot. He always enters on the left part of a street and needs to reach the right side to exit the level and move on. Along the way different types of zombies are encountered that attack alone or in large groups. These can be killed using a wide range of guns based on three ammunition types, throwable weapons such as flares and grenades, and melee attacks. Defeated zombies leave behind coins that can be spent at shops discovered along the way marked with green arrows. Shops offer guns, ammo and upgrades, but only in small quantities. It is also possible to break into houses and collect whatever is left behind there, including guns, ammo, items, medikits and valuable items such as radios or batteries. These can also be sold at the shops to receive extra money. Items can be reviewed, managed and discarded from a separate inventory.

As there are too many zombies to take out, the player has to balance between avoiding them, using different types of weapons or considering costly upgrades. Opponents also get harder over time, launching projectiles, travelling at a fast speed or attacking in large groups. Each weapon has different statistics based on damage, range, fire rate, penetration and weight. They often need to be compared and swapped as only a small load of items can be carried or the character is slowed down significantly. Money can be invested into seven upgrades (max health, running speed, weapon skill, melee skill, strength, bargaining skill, and luck) that can each be upgraded three times. As shops can be scarce in some streets, the character sometimes needs to travel back to unload, defeating new zombies that have spawned in the meantime, eating up ammo again. Some shop owners have a request for a special item they want to pay a lot for. If it is found, the character can choose to travel back to offer it.

Locations include regular streets, hospitals, but also tunnels with no shops at all. The game can only be saved in the shops and medikits can be found or bought to restore health, along with adrenaline to receive a rush. When overwhelmed, it is sometimes possible to run past zombies but every ten levels a strong creature needs to be defeated to progress. It is possible to aim in any direction, separate from the movement, and the character can also move up and down the street. Levels are procedurally generated based on a number of parameters, so levels are never entirely identical. The game can also be played in a local co-op mode with another player.

The two other game modes are The Solution and Last Stand. The Solution takes place on 16th September 1983 when six inmates from H. Mason Maximum Security Prison are given the opportunity to provide a solution for the city. They need to infiltrate the city, rig the power plant so it can be blown up, and then return to escape. Players select one of the six available inmates. Unlike the Dead Pixels game mode there are no shops and no upgrades; each character has different, permanent statistics from the beginning. This mode is played differently as houses are the main source for supplies and survival becomes more important. The character can order additional supplies via radio, but only in small amounts and they are usually dropped two streets ahead and not available immediately. In this mode the game can only be saved using an ink ribbon (a nod to Resident Evil). After the power plant has been rigged, the character still needs to travel the entire way back through the infested streets.

The third game mode is called Last Stand. It is a survival game mode about a group of survivors who are close to the airport three days after the army pulled out. As the airport is entirely infested, they lure huge hordes of zombies into a nearby mall. In this game mode the goal is only to survive many different wave of zombies. Before each wave there is a short moment to enter one of the shops that all sell the same items. Full upgrades, ammo and weapons are available in this mode, once coins have been collected from the killed zombies, but only in small quantities. With each wave, the zombies become fiercer and arrive in larger groups. In this mode a new item near the top of the screen shows how many zombies are left in the wave.

The Xbox 360 version initially only appeared with the Dead Pixels game mode. When it reached the milestone of 4,000 sales the developer announced a free update that added in the two other game modes The Solution and Last Stand. As DLC is not allowed for XNA Indie Games, it is not available separately. It was updated into the base game instead.


Dead Pixels Windows Preparing for the first wave
Dead Pixels Windows Two zombies have been put down. Houses marked with an X have been raided already.
Dead Pixels Windows I tried to move on without killing the boss character.
Dead Pixels Windows Main menu

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Dead Pixels Screenshot
Dead Pixels Screenshot
Dead Pixels Screenshot
Dead Pixels Screenshot

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