The core concept of Drop Dead: The Cabin is simple – team up with a friend and work your way through waves of zombies, unlocking new procedural drops of weapons and resources as you progress through the titular cabin and its surroundings. If you survive long enough, you’ll make it through the night and be able to escape the cabin.
Easy in theory, less so in practice – you’re not expected to make it through the night on your first go, or probably not even your second or third either. This seems like the kind of co-op shooter that you and a friend can jump into once a day, week or month, gradually improving your teamwork and coordination, with the goal of eventually making it through to the end. While not strictly a roguelike, it borrows enough elements from the genre to hopefully keep things fresh and different across multiple sessions.
My demo of The Cabin at Gamescom saw me and a member of the Soul Assembly team begin our run in the cabin’s living room. At the start of each run, you’ll only have access to limited weapons and supplies – there are doorways to other rooms and areas, but they’ll be locked to begin with. The action starts with zombies approaching the cabin from all directions, entering through broken doors or bordered windows that quickly get ripped apart. Each kill adds to a pool of points which can be used to unlock doors to new rooms inside the cabin, as well as outdoor areas in the surrounding forest. The required points become increasingly steep, but you’ll also be able to spend them on unlocking chests containing ammo, health packs and other items.
These mechanics might sound a tad familiar – structurally, there’s inspiration taken from other wave shooters like Call of Duty: Zombies. Aesthetically, however, The Cabin strikes a different tone. The game doesn’t aim for full realism in its graphics, but instead keys into something more stylized, taking notes from recent nostalgia-laden media like Stranger Things. Enemies glow with neon veins and feel more supernatural than your average VR zombie. Likewise, the colorful electronics scattered around the map really pop out against the forest’s gloomy backdrop. Visually, it all ties together really well.
We were able to make it out of the cabin and into the forest in my demo, but didn’t make it much further. We were soon facing an increasing number of problems that I was ill-equipped to deal with – dwindling ammo, varied enemies and an electricity blackout were the death knell for my run. Proper teamwork and coordination will be the key to success in The Cabin – building strong rapport and a system with your partner will pay dividends over multiple runs. If my schedule had allowed it, I would have stayed for one more – or maybe even two.
What I saw at Gamescom was just a small yet promising slice of what Soul Assembly is building with The Cabin. There’s lots more to explore, but the demo was enough to propel The Cabin up my list of most anticipated releases. From what I played, it seems casual enough to jump into with a friend on a whim, while also hopefully providing strategic depth and replayability for those want it.
One thing is for certain – I’m looking forward to staking out even more nights in The Cabin later this year.