The object of the game in Dead Panic is not to merely survive until the bag of enemies runs out, as in Castle Panic. In true zombie style, the horde never runs out. Instead of simply outlasting the assault, players in Dead Panic must first gather radio parts, which are found on the human survivors that sometimes appear with the zombies. After three radio parts have been collected and assembled, rescuers are summoned. The game then becomes a mad dash to make it to the safety of the van before zombies eat your brains. There’s a sense of anticipation, rising action, and climax that is quite thrilling, a nice change from the sameness of Castle Panic.
Another interesting aspect of Dead Panic is the many different types of zombies. Each type behave in unique ways that often make them a true challenge. Brutes are extremely tough, taking more hits before falling than any other. Sprinters get a double move, while Creepers only crawl ahead one space on a roll of 4-6. Watch out, though, because while they are slow, Creepers can crawl through the walls of the cabin and cause serious problems for players inside!
The theme of Dead Panic is about an invading undead horde, and those with younger children who might be interested in playing the game could be concerned. However, the art style of the game is very cartoon-like, and in my opinion not very scary at all. The zombies have white eyes, gaunt faces, and bright red blood on them, but there is no extreme gore, nor anything particularly distasteful. The scariness of “dying” to the zombies is mitigated somewhat by a fallen player’s return as a very tough zombie, who changes sides to fight against the other players. In my opinion, Dead Panic is a family friendly game, though obviously not as squeaky clean as Castle Panic.
Overall, I found Dead Panic to be a very fun experience. There is a fine line between adding so much to a game that it becomes too complex, and keeping it so simple that it becomes boring quickly. Dead Panic has found a good balance. I would still consider it a light enough game to play with older kids or non-gamers, but it has plenty of meat for more experienced gamers as well. If you enjoyed Castle Panic, but are looking for something a bit deeper, or you just can’t get enough zombies in your games, Dead Panic is definitely worth a look.