Video Game: Rework the Dead: Evil
An Action Game
by Team Happy Rainbow Panda Bears, loosely based on the old webcomic Rework the Dead
by David Hopkins (mostly known for Jack
), basically a Zombie Apocalypse
with Furries. It doesn't follow the original group of soldiers but a dog named Leigh, who seems to be the only still-living person in an evacuated city, now overrun by undead creatures called
"Reworks". Thanks to his friend Davis, who communicates with him from a safe place, he finds out that the city will be nuked in a few hours, but there's a military base where he might be safe from the blasts if he descends deep enough in the bunkers...
The game itself is a close clone of Abuse
: a mix of platform and shooting with a hybrid mouse/keyboard interface, sort of a First-Person Shooter
brought onto a 2D plane. It adds some touches of its own like a Sprint Meter
, boss battles, an higher emphasis on aiming, and a story developed through several cutscenes. Progress is saved only between levels.
It stands perfectly on its own and requires no prior knowledge of the webcomics it takes inspiration from, with the only advantage being that... they might open the door to one or two more interpretations of the game’s ending
. Also a fair warning: since we're dealing with the works of a very polarizing
author, just know that main characters, storylines and especially themes of them are not found here – this is just a straight horror title.
There's no official website, but it can be downloaded here
Provides examples of:
- Adaptation Decay / Broad Strokes: The source is taken very loosely, with little more than the framing device of the Furry Zombie Apocalypse. There's no reference to the characters and events of the webcomic, the city may be Los Angeles but it's not stated, and The Virus works in a completely different way than in the comic, although it's functional to the game's plot.
- Advancing Boss of Doom: The rematch with the Supernaut in the stage aptly named "Run".
- Alt Fire: All weapons have one, with the exception of the 9mm pistol and the .357 magnum – while holding them, the alt-fire button makes Leigh throw a hand grenade.
- Ambidextrous Sprite: Leigh holds his weapons with both hands almost all the time, with two exceptions: when he runs, and when he points the Pistol or Magnum towards a direction opposite the way that he's walking. In these cases the hands change accordingly but one might conclude that he's really ambidextrous.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Supernaut can take up two-thirds of the screen when it exposes itself the most, and still only a third of what should be its entire size is visibile.
- Author Appeal: Team Happy Rainbow Panda Bears are fans of David Hopkins's works, since they also made a Jack game a few years prior (it's mostly mediocre though). On the other hand, the very loose adaptation of Rework the Dead and the misspelling of the Supernaut's name (it's "Supernaught") show that they do not reach Creator Worship level.
- Badass: We know nothing of Leigh but he's far from being an Action Survivor.
- Bad End / Non Standard Game Over: You can get one after the Supernaut boss fight, but it's very easy to avoid it and go on for a few more levels. However, things get really screwy from then on...
- Barefoot Cartoon Animals
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: A possible interpretation of the ending.
- BFG: The Shrapnel Gun, the Chain Gun and especially the Obliterator, which is reminiscent of the archetypal BFG.
- Boring but Practical
- You'll be tempted to not use the 9mm Pistol and the Magnum anymore after getting the Shotgun and up, but a few bullets to the head can kill a basic Rework, saving ammo for the heavier weapons. They’re also the only weapons you can throw hand grenades with.
- The SMG is not particularly exciting to use but is fast and reliable, you can find a good number of clips, and it has a grenade launcher as its alternate fire.
- Critical Existence Failure: Happens only to Leigh. While most enemies can be partially disabled, he stays in perfect shape until the last bit of health.
- Deadpan Snarker: Davis.
- Defanged Horrors: Those fire-spewing flying... things are freaky and very annoying but if you destroy their faces with a light weapon, they'll become completely harmless, with no need to waste more ammo on them.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The intro and part of the ending.
- Do Not Run with a Gun: When Leigh runs, he can't shoot.
- Driven to Suicide / Dying as Yourself: The reaction of Leigh to The Reveal. Whether he carries through with it or not is up to the player.
- Dummied Out: Looking at the game's files, you can find two unused cutscenes: part of the one where Leigh gets the Obliterator, and another one that was cut entirely, where Leigh shoots Id's carcass after he has killed him (and given the boss, he's justified).
- Eldritch Abomination: The first small ones appear after a few levels, as you begin to see that it's going beyond a simple Zombie Apocalypse. It culminates with the giant hearts in the last level, which have eyes and teeth.
- Exploding Barrels: You can make them roll around. Oddly, they explode as soon as they touch an enemy, but Leigh can roll them as long as you want.
- Every Bullet Is a Tracer: Happens only with the Railgun, whose bullets leave a trail. The other weapons have no visible bullets, but some leave shells behind (although they disappear soon after).
- Fake Difficulty: A few instances here and there. The game can sometimes throw enemies that are very difficult to avoid damage from, even if you have detected an ambush and tried to run past it. There also some passages where you cannot avoid taking some damage from a fall. Finally, some players may find the absence of checkpoints (if you die, you are sent to the beginning of the level) a bit aggravating.
- Flunky Boss: The final boss will summon wave after wave of monsters to attack Leigh, including some Giant Mooks.
- Gainax Ending: After the Supernaut boss fight, things get really weird and lead to a confusing conclusion. The extended credits sequence you get for beating the game at Hard difficulty doesn't clear matters. It's all voluntarily left open to interpretation.
- Worst Ending: Leigh hasn't given up fighting but he's finally succumbing to the infection and will turn into a Rework soon – as the extended credits show, he's going back up but the surroundings are still a Womb Level. An even worse possibility is that the surface has been wiped clean of Reworks by the military but Leigh will emerge as a Rework, and will trigger a new infection. If he really descended into Hell and destroyed the cause of the infection, he may have saved the world but he's stuck there forever.
- Good Ending: Leigh is so badass, he has won the battle against the virus (the Battle in the Center of the Mind was a representation of the struggle), he's not infected anymore, and the extended credits show the beginning of a symbolical ascent towards full healing. If he really descended into Hell and won, sooner or later he will emerge.
- Golden Ending with elements of Jack: The final boss may have been Dr. Kane aka Envy, who has an army of Reworks in Hell in the webcomic – the second form resembles how he first appeared as a shadow, before revealing himself. Coherently with his frequent role as The Chessmaster, he may have masterminded the Rework infection as a means to open a passage to the mortal world. Leigh was a Spanner in the Works, and so badass he defeated one of the Seven Sins. He'll have no problem going back to the surface!
- None of the above, however, give an explanation about who the shadowy figure prompting Leigh to not kill himself and go on was. Just an hallucination? Someone shady but good, who saw Leigh fit to stop the Rework menace? Or was someone who used Leigh for his hidden agenda?
- Giant Mook: Most regular enemies are the same size as Leigh or a little more, but the last levels feature two types of enemies which are much bigger and appropriately resistant.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: All enemies except the basic Reworks, and all bosses except Id (and maybe Wipe). Lampshaded by one of the questions Leigh can make to Davis from a terminal, after first seeing an eyeball monster. And there's a reason for all this.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Id is implied to be this, a lab experiment that resulted in a super-powered Rework. Wipe may have been a lab experiment too.
- Gorn: Right from the Team Happy Rainbow Panda Bears logo (holy crap!), the game doesn't shy away from throwing a lot of blood and guts around, either in-game or in cutscenes, with enemies blown up and coloring the surroundings red. And it's still not on par with the gorn-tastic webcomic. Leigh is surprisingly immune from this: he stays always clean and when he dies his sprite freezes and flickers, fade to black, and it's back to the beginning of the level.
- Guide Dang It: It's often difficult to figure how to kill the bosses and for this reason the game files include a hint file for these situations. Also, while simple in practice, it's not immediately clear how to avoid the Bad End.
- To Hell and Back: One of the several possible interpretations for the story. See Gainax Ending.
- Hollywood Hacker: Davis.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Made even more ridiculous by the fact that Leigh wears just jeans and an armless shirt. Lampshaded by Davis who, if you ask him information about the Chain Gun, wonders how Leigh is able to even lift it, much less fire it.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Even the smaller weapons can dismember enemies. Heavier weapons practically pulverize them and their pieces scatter about, smearing blood and guts everywhere.
- Mission Control: Davis, complete with a cup of coffee.
- Not Using the Z Word: The Reworks show several characteristics of the classic zombies, mixed with 28-days style ones – slow and shambling they are not.
- Original Characters: Leigh and Davis are creations of Team Happy Rainbow Panda Bears and do not appear in Rework the Dead or Jack. For all we know, this may be an Alternate Universe.
- Precision F-Strike: Leigh drops one after The Reveal.
- Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: A Rework can lose its arms or legs and still be dangerous, but a few well placed bullets to the head make it fall off (we suppose the damage to the brain was very high) and it's over. More powerful weapons just blow up the head outright.
- Take a Third Option: What Leigh has to do to avoid the Bad End.
- The Reveal: After defeating the Supernaut, Leigh finds out he's infected by The Virus; the first phases of the infection involve hallucinations, which explains the increasingly weird things he has dealt with - it's all in his mind. Or is it?
- Sequential Boss: The final one. After defeating the first form, it changes into a completely different one, although he doesn't go One-Winged Angel.
- Shared Life Meter: The Supernaut is a partial example, requiring the player to reduce it's health bar by shooting off it's scales one by one. However, the player doesn't need to remove them all to defeat it.
- Shout-Out: Although based on David Hopkins's older webcomic, it contains a few elements taken from Jack, most notably the Supernaut boss. The first form of the final boss is taken from an illustration that, so far, seems disjointed from the story; it shows what seems to be the leader of a bunch of Reworks in Hell. There are also some possibile ties with the Jack universe in the plot, maybe a reference to David Hopkins’s intention of remaking Rework the Dead sometime in the future to tie it in better with his current comic.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Some tracks are appropriately scary ambience, but sometimes it shifts to loud electronic music, for example when first entering the cave and to underline the intensity of boss fights.
- Sprint Meter: The Stamina bar determines how much Leigh can run before it runs out. The temporary infinity and then depletion when restoring health is justified by the use of Adrenaline. Oddly, when swimming it works as an Oxygen Meter.
- Story-Driven Invulnerability: During the first two phases of his boss fight, Id can be damaged but only to slow him down. His energy bar appears once you enter the third phase of the fight.
- Theme Naming: Level 12. It's named "Katabasis", "descent into the underworld". Whether this descent is real or imaginary is to be determined.
- “Supernaut” is the title of a Black Sabbath song and the name of a couple music bands... But it's all a coincidence, no reference to them was intended, since it is just a misspelling of the name of a creature from Jack.
- The Stinger: Inverted. The first thing you see when you start up the game for the first time is a close-up on the face of a shadowy figure with red eyes standing in front of a computer terminal, who says (with full voice acting) "I remember it all now. Every memory is crystal clear...but they're not mine." The Team Happy Rainbow Panda Bears logo then appears, and every time you start up the game afterwards the logo is all you get.
- Too Awesome to Use: Given the scarcity of ammunition, especially at Hard difficulty, any weapon that's slightly more powerful than another can become this, but there are specific examples.
- The Obliterator. It holds only ten charges, and recharges are few and far between. It's better kept for its secondary fire – an energy shield.
- The Shrapnel Gun kills even the eyeballs (which are quite resistant to other weapons, including rockets and grenades) with a single shot. Needless to say you'll want to save it for the badder boys and leave regular Reworks to light weapons.
- The Chain Gun is incredibly powerful and can tear through hordes of enemies, but most of its bullets will have to be used to kill the Supernaut, and it's very easy to waste ammo. Its alt-fire (a short burst of six bullets, more than enough to destroy any Rework), however, is very useful.
- Completely subverted by the final weapon. It's an incredibly powerful sword that slices most enemies to bits with a single hit and whose alt-fire is a screen-wide energy beam. Obviously, it requires no ammo and can be used without limits. If it wasn't for the hordes of regular enemies joined by Giant Mooks in the last level, it would have been close to a Game Breaker.
- True Final Boss: If you do not figure how to avoid the Bad End, you might be tricked into thinking the Supernaut was the final enemy, while the real final boss comes a few levels later.
- The Virus: It is extremely important to all the plot.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We do not hear from Davis anymore after level 9. Justified since he may have been unable to hack into deeper levels of the complex, and we can assume is still sitting on his desk.
- Womb Level: Some of the later levels are this. The last level, only partially: it's a stone fortress with some flesh, bones and giant spinal columns here and there. The doors are organic and some can be opened only by killing the giant hearts.
- Zombie Apocalypse