Stay Dead Evolution Review

Stay Dead Evolution

Score: 2 out of 5It’s 1992, and Mortal Kombat has used digitized sprites to represent the characters fighting one another on screen, while games like Night Trap and Phantasmagoria were incorporating full-motion video (FMV) of live actors to portray the characters in their stories. This era fell somewhere in between the 1980s laserdisc games built entirely around on-screen button prompts to propel the action and Shenmue‘s famous 1999 introduction of quick-time events (QTEs) into the mainstream. Stay Dead Evolution is a fighting game trapped somewhere in the midst of all this, and struggles to find its footing or deliver any true entertainment value for more than a few minutes.

Stay Dead Evolution is essentially a QTE game; the only player input is tapping the correct arrow key when a box moving horizontally across the screen enters another, larger box. Sometimes an arrow appears in the larger box, in which case the player must match the direction, but at other times any arrow key will do, with double-taps and three-tap combos rounding out the extent of the controls.

Stay Dead Evolution

The system, unfortunately, isn’t very good, and arguably broken. It starts out with huge target boxes and a slow-moving cursor box, so the first opponent will be a joke to defeat on any difficulty level. This remains the case for the entire duration of the base difficulty setting. The second match of subsequent difficulty levels shows a huge disparity from the initial fight, with tiny target boxes that continue to shrink, and a cursor box that zooms across the screen. I would describe this difficulty curve as mildly infuriating.

The other unique-for-its-time aspect of Stay Dead Evolution is that the characters are all live actors, shot on green screen, performing individual attacks that are repeated stiffly with each successful attack or defense command. No polygons, no sprites, and short video clips of the action from different angles replacing rendered animations. There are painfully few of these clips, though, so you’ll end up seeing the same punches, kicks, and blocks from the same angles over and over.

Stay Dead Evolution

Really, there just isn’t enough of anything in Stay Dead Evolution. It needs more characters, more moves, more (and more sensible) arenas, and more variety of player commands. And perhaps most importantly, it could probably entirely revamp its QTE system. We loved QTE in Resident Evil 4, Heavy Rain, and all the God of War titles, among others, so with a little more care and production time put into Stay Dead Evolution, we could have had a nostalgic and enjoyable experience instead of a mess made out of 90s game mechanics.

Buy on Amazon


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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