REVIEW: Dawn of the Fred

Despite my (completely justified) reticence to play another zombie shooter, Dawn of the Fred (80 MSP) has been a long time in the making. So long, I’d kinda forgotten about it. Developer Sticky DPad Games was running previews on other indie sites in an effort to promote the name and idea literally years before its release. Want more aging trivia? Dawn of the Fred was to be the survival-centric prequel to the more-fleshed out (with a story campaign, side missions and such) Night of the Fred, which I’m not even sure on the status of. Look for it in 2016, maybe?

Dawn of the Fred - Screen

I kid, I kid. The important bit is, Dawn of the Fred is here. It exists. And, yes, it’s a survival game featuring those loveable shamblers, popularly known as the zombie wave shooter. The game posits an unlimited number of rounds and brings together a varied roster of undead in familiar archetypes (think Acid, Screamer, Tank, and Regenerating zombies) on two maps. Waves play out according to different sets of rules. In some rounds, you need to defeat a set number of enemies. In others, you’ll face off against larger groups, or more of a certain type. Zombies drop cash, which you can then redeem for ammo or health at vending machines scattered around the battlefield, or visit the gun shop.

With a generous stockpile of 70+ weapons and numerous combinations thereafter (you can equip two guns at once), it aims to be more Dead Rising-lite than traditional wave shooting, which definitely works in the game’s favor. Granted, a good chunk fall into the usual weaponry suspects (SMGs, shotguns, pistols, just with increased stats), though you do get a more diverse set of guns on offer in the ‘wonderful’ and ‘weird’ categories (…a toaster, for instance).

While those beefier (or bread-ier, ha!) options don’t typically come cheap, the key to survival is in trying different loadouts; something ventured, something gained, if you will. The ideal setup for me was alternating an SMG / rifle with a launcher of some sort, trading off firing speed for area-of-effect whenever a crowd or the heavy hitters gathered. This improvisation works out well, as the mix-and-matching amounts to most of the fun you’ll have in Dawn of the Fred.

Dawn of the Fred - Screen2

There are some small concerns. Occasional depth-perception issues with the background pop up (it can be hard to discern doorways and paths, especially with the gore filter at max), and with health refills locked away behind an absurd amount of coin ($5000!? And it doesn’t top you off for the trouble!?), I struggled to even reach the fifteenth wave on some playthroughs. This is less of a critique should you play it locally with a friend, no doubt the best way to enjoy and progress in the game.

Still, Dawn of the Fred makes the best of its lengthy development cycle, separating itself from the rest of the pack with dozens of unique weapons. The gameplay and a few shortcomings here and there remind you that at its core it’s just a gussied up zombie wave shooter, albeit a fun one with a piranha launcher. Not very many can say that.

13 thoughts on “REVIEW: Dawn of the Fred”

  1. Lots of problems with this one : dull color scheme, severe lack of contrast between characters, enemies and background graphics, boring music, only being able to shoot in 4 directions (even NES games could do 8, guys), unnecessarily wonky shop menu controls, lack of basic visual effects like muzzle flashes, no discernible difference between playable characters – not even their starting weapons, unclear wave completion goals…. and most execrable, the flamethrower doesn’t even set zombies on fire!

    All that said, this is still a darn good little zombie game. I give it full marks for it’s simple, addictive, splattery, wave-blasting joys. The massive arsenal and unpredictable waves sweeten the deal just enough to make me forgive some of the nastier flaws.

    The screamers can all go straight (back?) to hell, though. Why do they have so much bloody health?

    1. You actually put in all the finer criticisms I left out of the review, so thank you for that. 🙂

      Given the amount of time this one was in development, it is curious how ‘unpolished’ some things are, like the store menu and wave completion descriptions, as you mentioned. The amount of weapons makes up for it. Still worth the $1, for sure.

      If they do go ahead with ‘Night of the Fred’, these things will need to be taken care of. Small things are sometimes the most important things in guaranteeing a smooth experience for the player.

  2. This one seems fun, I do like! But, Im in that point in life when you are between nothing and something… I got exactly 60msp left, maybe when I get more points. But that will have to wait, no matter how much I try to convince myself to wait for a price drop… in September… I know I will not be able to control myself. And that Trevor, I already like him.

    1. I get it. It’s hard to get excited about another zombie wave shooter, period, let alone be interested in one when you’re low on MSP. That retail release list is looking pretty tempting, and I’m in the same boat; trying to save up money for games and that lovely PS4. XBLIG keeps me busy til then. 🙂

    2. If this was dinosaurs then…
      Ya know what? Scrap it. I’m waiting for genesis.
      Unless a dev actually does it.

    3. I will make you this promise— Should an XBLIG release that contains any scrap, iota, or mention of a dinosaur, even if it’s only in text-form, I will immediately broadcast it in the comments. As soon as I know about it, you will. I swear this. 🙂

    4. Thanks Tim.
      We mention dinosaur vs zombie so many times here its like we are at a crossroads.
      2013- WWZ Movie State of Decay
      2014: Godzilla reboot
      Jurassic park 4
      The good Dinosaur (Pixar)
      Primal Carnage Genesis
      Future: Project Crynosaurs.

      Almost to the Dino trend.
      Zombies will hopefully die down.

    5. That’s insider info. Any dino-related stocks I can throw my money behind? InGen still around? I need to diversify my portfolio. 🙂

    1. Ha. Sorry, man. But Piranha gun, indeed. And a toaster that fires toast, a gun that fires rainbows, bricks, a turret made of shotguns, and plenty of miscellaneous launchers that do very nice splash damage. Yeah, it’s zombies, but it’s really all about the guns here. Best in local co-op, too, I’d assume.

  3. Want your own Piranha launcher (and much more)? First person to respond to this comment wins a copy of Dawn of the Fred, courtesy of Sticky DPad Games.

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