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Review: House of the Dead Remake

Written by NeroDeCate

“I must admit, I really respect your consistency. But you will never, ever defeat me. Say hello to my masterpiece!”

SEGA’s ‘The House of the Dead’ franchise was originally released for arcades in 1996 and has since spawned many sequels, a spinoff and home console versions. Whether it was on PC or console, fans of rail-shooting zombie games were spoilt for choice. However, it has been decade or so since the last proper entry in the series, and with SEGA apparently losing the source code of the original, fans wondered if the franchise would ever be reanimated. Thankfully, developer Megapixel studios have taken it upon themselves to faithfully recreate the original game, and release it on Nintendo Switch.

Playing as either Agent G or Agent Thomas Rogan, you’ll blast your way through undead hordes to try and stop mad scientist Dr Curien from destroying the world. You have the opportunity to discover three different endings depending on your performance during a playthrough. Whilst fighting through the continuous waves of zombies, you also need to keep an eye out for innocent scientists stuck trying to escape the mad Doctor's mansion. Saving them can be very rewarding, but it’s worth discovering why for yourself!

As with most remakes, the first thing you’ll notice are the improved visuals. Comparing the original House of the Dead to its remake, you can see that it’s had a complete graphical overhaul. Built from the ground up, the remake makes everything look phenomenally more impressive. Blood splatter and sparks from ricocheting bullets for instance lead to a far more immersive experience for a rail-shooter. Whether you are outside, shooting the oncoming horde, inside the house, creeping through dark corridors whilst anticipating the zombies next moves, or in the laboratory with its glaring neon lighting, the immersion is there, albeit at the expense of some visual clarity.

As with most Rail-Shooters, the control styles are varied with being able to use thumbsticks, gyro controls or a mixture of both. Whichever control style you use can take some getting used to, as gyro is rather buggy with the cursor having a tendency to drift away from the screen a little too often. Keep that cursor reset button handy, you’re going to be pressing it a lot. There’s a lot of trial and error needed to reconfigure the controls to your liking, but i’ve found using dual joy-cons to be the easiest; aiming and shooting with one, reloading and cursor resetting with the other. This can be rather frustrating at times and could be improved via an update or a Switch Light Gun type of accessory/controller. Hopefully the promised “Cowboy Mode” will bring the update to fix the cursor drift.

Personally, my favourite addition in the remake is the new Horde Mode. This mode multiplies the amount of on-screen enemies, and brings more of a challenge, one that can be extremely tough even on the easiest difficulties. The game is much more enjoyable once you’ve unlocked some new weapon types, allowing you to mow waves of zombies down in seconds, and leaving you extremely satisfied.

For people who enjoy Bonus Content, a Gallery Mode has been made available to check out all the enemy models that you’ve defeated, as well as a weapons selection screen, and an achievement screen that shows milestones from your quest and the requirements for the ones you’ve yet to unlock. These additions are especially useful for completionists out there.

Verdict

The House of the Dead Remake is a great callback and still a compelling pick up and play  title over 20 years later. A complete playthrough may only take a modest 30-40 minutes, but there’s still plenty here for series veterans and newcomers alike to enjoy. Sadly the remake is marred by some unfortunate bugs that need to be eliminated before it can really achieve true greatness. Due to the repetitious nature of the gameplay, and short completion time, the game can become repetitive rather quickly, though players may find variety and mileage from using different weapons and trying to beat their high score.

The short playthrough time does have its benefits, in that it’s an easy game to pick up and play when you don’t have too much time to spare. It also doesn’t guzzle up too much space on your Switch  with its 3.1GB install size. Although the bugs during gameplay make aiming somewhat difficult, it’s still a nostalgia rush, and a great title to own to scratch the itch of wanting to visit an arcade if you no longer have one near you.

Where to Buy

Base - £26.49

https://tidd.ly/3I5DD6Q

ShopTo - £30.85

https://tidd.ly/3OB0iKT

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Credits

Review written by Will L. Ince
Edited by Mark McAllister and Paul L. Russell
Review Graphic by Paul L. Russell