The Dillon series have always attempted to set a theme and give players a sense of the world. In Dillon’s Rolling Western and Dillon: The Last Ranger, we saw what was basically a frontier in the wild west, occasionally seeing some NPCs in the appropriate areas with the right sorts of language. But with Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers, things go a step further. With a new, post-apocalyptic setting, we have an opportunity to feel like a member of a community. There’s more of a center, and it does this installment a great service.
The main reason this opportunity to explore a town, talk with people and work in the community is to help us find our bearings. Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers completely eschews the previous setting. This is no longer a Western, relying on its familiar tropes. It is more of a Mad Max situation. To understand what is at stake and give us a reason to fight, we need to see what the people around us are like. We have to know what we are fighting for. We even have to see who we could be working with, if you spend money to recruit them for an upcoming fight. With the previous two games, the atmosphere is enough and Vanpool could get away with telling who and what they are fighting for. This new one needs more of a foundation, and showing us, rather than telling us, gives us that.
Having the actual town to explore is important, because it not only familiarizes us with the world, but the world with us. In the Dillon series, Dillon the armadillo and his partner, Russ, are renowned. They are known in every town they visit. Our amiimal avatar? Not so much. We start as an outsider that no one knows. By allowing us to visit with people and take part in minigames that help us deal with the city’s waste management, aid people in the grocery store, feed the scroggs I am trying to protect, practice attacking grocks in an arcade game and recruit people to help me at the hotel. It is about being seen and part of an area.
This adds to the realism of the game. How are you going to afford to defend the city? Where do you get the money to hire extra allies? These actions around town each day aren’t just about getting your face out there and making it a better place to live. It is giving you money to keep fighting. And, since you are limited to only a few actions each in-game day before an assault, you can really feel like you have to budget and manage. It adds to the strategic elements when Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers makes you think about how you’ll properly manage your downtime as well as the more active battles and attacks.
I think that is why the grocery story segments end up being so appropriate. As I mentioned earlier, tending shop is one of the things you can do when you have spare time in Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers. It mimics the experience in a way that feels satisfying, even though it can be considered busywork. You need to arrange products properly. You have to help customers by ringing them up. It makes sense within the world.
It also trains us. Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers has two minigames that help us get better at defending when grocks invade. As your amiimal, you can briefly fight grocks in the VR game. It lets you experiment with weapons and different types of foes, letting you see what things could be like in a no pressure environment. If you head to the race track, you can step into Dillon’s shoes and practice rolling down a road. This is great practice for the final rundown against grock bosses in each area, as it helps you maintain speed and steer.
Dillon’s Dead Heat Breakers really expands players’ gameplay experience. By offering us a city we can actually explore, we have a chance to learn more about the world. We can help make our amiimal avatar become part of a community. This semblance of a daily life gives us a chance to earn money, while also participating in experiences that will help us succeed when the grocks come to town. It is all very effective.
Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers is available for the Nintendo 3DS.