Gallery Books, $16.00, ISBN 978-1-4767-6567-9
Highway to Hell takes after Max Brallier’s previous adult gamebook, Can You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?, only this time he takes on tropes from the post-apocalyptic “lone warrior against the zombies” survival horror genre. The end result is a deliriously brutal and gory campaign.
You are Jimmy El Camino, a former military dude who has become so addicted to destructive behavior that even the blackest of the black ops people get scared of you. During times of peace, you do all you can to get into trouble, and you end up spending the last five years in an underground prison cell. Well, when this campaign opens, you are hauled out to be told that the zombie apocalypse took place while you were… downstairs, and now, you are needed for a special mission. A woman is found to be immune to the zombie virus, and you need to escort her safely from New York to the researchers in San Francisco. But first, you need to get away from the kingpin who had seen too many Mad Max movies – he doesn’t want the zombie apocalypse to end, because he’s too busy being the boss of everyone.
This one just oozes bad-ass from start to finish, tampered by the occasional cheeky humor. There are some truly gory bad ends, but some bad ends are also hilarious in a macabre manner. Comparisons to The Walking Dead or The Last of Us are probably unavoidable, but it is adorable how no one is spared here. Bad things can happen even to animals and kids, and hence, some parts here can cut the heart deep.
If there is any issue to be had here, it’s the linearity of the campaign. But the narrative is solid and the atmosphere is immersive, so the ride, how matter how railroaded you may feel at times, is a fun one. This is one Highway to Hell that can bring it right to the heavens.