REVIEW: ‘Ray’s The Dead’ Is An Imperfectly Fun Adventure (PS4)

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Ray's The Dead

Ray’s The Dead is a dark comedy zombie action-adventure game from the team at Ragtag Studios out now for the Playstation 4 and Steam for PC.R  agtag Studios has managed to take a simple formula and extract everything it can to make a fun game with engaging puzzles and nostalgic artwork. While the combat can be a bit generic and repetitive, Ray’s The Dead grows into a much more interesting challenge with a surprisingly touching story as gameplay progresses (with a funky 80s vibe and soundtrack to boot).

Ray’s The Dead follows the story of freshly-turned zombie Ray LaMorte. During a frightful night, a sinister group is in the process of raising the dead and chooses Ray as their next subject. As they believe the experiment has failed, the group leaves. However, as they leave, Ray wakes from his eternal slumber. Although he cannot speak as he used to, Ray more than makes up for it by being a free-thinking zombie with the abilities to raise the recently deceased and feast upon their brains for life force. 

As the levels progress, so too does the player’s understanding of Ray’s backstory. The game balances between two game modes. The first is Ray’s newfound “life” as a zombie. In this game mode, the player will complete tasks and puzzles which cannot be completed without using his powers of necromancy. Players will also engage in combat to defeat the undead and  stand up against those who have done this to Ray and so many others. The second game mode is centered around Ray as he was a child through young adulthood. With each of the second game mode’s flashbacks, Ray restores even more of his memories and unlocks some fun zombie powers in the process.

Where Ray’s The Dead’s storytelling shines is through the duality of Ray the zombie and Ray the human. Ray’s The Dead, at its core, is a game that tells a touching tale of forgiveness and redemption. It focuses on how choices and consequences impact one’s future, but it does not mean someone is defined by their past.

Ray’s The Dead is an action-adventure game filled with puzzles and platforming mechanics. The interesting take on the genre here is how most of these puzzles and enemies are defeated: the power of teamwork.

Ray's The Dead

Ray the zombie has a unique power that the player obtains from the start, where he is able to control corpses and enemies after defeating them by turning them into zombies too. This opens up a multitude of possibilities as the player can send the zombies to dig under holes to access new areas, destroy gates, and send the horde after new foes. The zombies Ray has helping him throughout the levels are not invincible, though. Simply navigating Ray’s undead underlings through the level can create some of the most difficult gameplay.

Gameplay as Ray the human follows the same action-adventure, puzzle format of the zombie mode. The only differences here are the removal of Ray’s zombie powers and the emotional weight carried by some of the scenes.

Where Ray’s The Dead struggles is in the repetitiveness of its combat.  Through the five chapters of the game, Ray’s zombie powers grow slightly, but never enough to morph the game in a truly substantial manner. And while having a vulnerable horde of zombies does lead to a more strategic playing style, knowing that simple missteps can lead to the demise of a playthrough can be frustrating. Players can only overcome some obstacles with a certain number of allies, so if the player loses that golden number, without having the ability to recruit backups, they will need to restart the level.

However, that does not cancel out the strengths and fun of this game. The puzzle sections of Ray’s The Dead can be an absolute blast to play through. They require more strategy than one would think when beginning the game. And, the game rocks an 80s feel with an incredible synthesized soundtrack from Jake Kaufman and Dale North.

Ray’s The Dead is not a perfect game, but it’s an awesome option for the spooky Halloween season. If you are looking to have a fun, surprisingly deep story experience with a game and revel in what makes Halloween such a beloved holiday, then Ray’s The Dead should be on your list.

Ray’s The Dead is available now on Playstation 4 and PC on Steam. It releases for Nintendo Switch in 2021.


Ray's the Dead
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

Ray’s The Dead is not a perfect game, but it’s an awesome option for the spooky Halloween season. If you are looking to have a fun, surprisingly deep story experience with a game and revel in what makes Halloween such a beloved holiday, then Ray’s The Dead should be on your list.