Anybody Out There: Dead City
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2017-08-01 Android Adventure M (Mature) Headup Games / Everbyte

The initial description of Dead City in my email had me intrigued. I wondered how it could possibly work, me messaging a fictional character and events in real time... I was curious. Very curious! So I asked a kind PR person for a code, and what followed was a week of amazement.

Created by Headup Games and Everbyte, Anybody Out There: Dead City is a text-based adventure where you have a say in what the main character does. But it's not just about the main character, you become part of it as well.

It all begins with a simple message asking you for help. Sam, who we never know if it's male or female, is trapped in a post-apocalyptic zone, with nothing to help him out except this phone that has your number on it. Your task is to help him out, but it's up to you to be really helpful or not.

Keep in mind that this is an app and it's not actually done through your messages and phone service.

The app sends you notifications when you receive a message. Sometimes Sam will go away to do something and won't text back for a while. If you don't answer for a while, another notification appears with "Are you still there?" but this one won't stay in the chat log.

Your reply can only be one of two available choices, which I found somewhat limited and at times, not at all what I would say or do. Depending on your choices, Sam will have a better chance of survival or walk right into his/her death. From attempting to find food, to pull out a knife out of a corpse or follow tracks, talking about yourself or being a total ass and not wanting to hear any more than you have to, you will survive together as you unveil little bits of the story. It's a lot of filling in the blanks though, so that part is up to how far your imagination takes you.

While the game is fairly realistic in terms of the way the character talks, real time periods ("see you in three hours" really means a message will come through in three hours) and on two instances, separate interactions (I had to do a web search and a phone call via the app), I was hoping to be able to actually type myself, and Sam would reply according to keywords. I suppose that would be a lot more difficult to build, but as it is, I enjoyed the adventure as if I were reading one of those choose your own adventure books. I found myself waiting for Sam's messages on occasions and would worry about being late to answer on others, but sometimes I also wished there were more dialog choices.

At the end of each game day you get a summary to compare your choices with what others have done. This actually is a bit of a spoiler, since you sort of get a glimpse of what else could have happened, but again, fill in the blanks.

It's difficult for me to talk about this game without giving the story away. I want to, but it wouldn't be fair for anyone to know what happens throughout. Just know that it is worth the time and it is definitely a unique experience.

I've played through it twice, and while some parts of the story were exactly the same, I experienced two different endings with Sam. The first time left me very unsatisfied, which is what made me try again, to see what else I could do and if there was a happy ending. Well I'm not sure how much of a happy ending you can get during a zombie apocalypse, but I expected something else at least. And I did get something else, and in that last moment where I made the last choice, I held and stared at my phone for at least 5 minutes before realizing that was it, it was over.

But now I expect a sequel. There are too many questions unanswered and I need to know that "my" Sam is still alive.

So how about it guys, Dead City part 2: Are you still there? Make it happen.

Anybody Out There: Dead City is available on the App Store and Google Play.