The House of the Dead Remake PS4 Review. Copious amounts of gore, zombies, diabolical acting, and a story that’s so thin it could have been penned on the back of a pizza box. The House of the Dead succinctly captured everything good (and bad) about the 90s arcade scene when it shambled into the light some 25 years ago, and, alongside Resident Evil, is widely cited for the zombie boom in video games of that era.
Ironic, as The House of the Dead director Takashi Oda insists the game’s enemies aren’t zombies, but hey, we won’t argue. Regardless, it worked, as all these years on we’ve got three main sequels, numerous spin-offs, and now a remake of the original game. Let’s find out if it’s still worth a blast or is just a decomposing limb falling off a shambling corpse.
The House Of The Dead Remake PS4 Review
No One Leaves Here Alive
If you’re expecting a radical overhaul of the original game, then don’t: The House of the Dead Remake is almost a shot-for-shot recreation of the classic rail shooter, from how the plot unfolds right down to the placement of enemies. Speaking of plot, there’s not much to see here other than giving you a reason to blast enemies in the face.
Set in December 1998, mad scientist bloke Dr. Curien has got a little too obsessed with life and death, and spends his time concocting all manner of grotesque creatures from a secret lab in his sprawling mansion.
Enter AMS agents Thomas Rogan and G, who proceed to conduct an investigation of the estate by doing what they do best – unloading an exorbitant amount of bullets into its blood-thirsty denizens and still having ammo to spare. Be prepared to hear ‘reload’ being yelled at you for the next 30-45 minutes. A lot.
90s Zombie Gorefest Still Hits The Spot
The House of the Dead is a quintessential old-school zombie blaster, for better or for worse. There’s nothing fancy about the bread-and-butter gameplay here, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The game game throws all manner of undead foes in your direction waiting to be blown to bits by your trusty handgun (although extra weapons have been added as bonus content), and there’s something almost cathartic about splattering viscera, limbs, and claret all over the place in a satisfying hail of lead.
One of the things that House of the Dead does well is to keep you on your toes. Sure, there’s your bog standard foes who love nothing more than to sink their teeth into you, but there’s plenty of variety in the bestiary.
Some enemies lob axes from a distance, zombie dogs leap at you ferociously, fat blokes with chainsaws tear at your flesh, and muscle-bound chaps attempt to punch you out with a nasty haymaker.
Having such a diverse enemy list at least keeps things fresh, and there is a wrinkle of strategy in terms of how you prioritise different types of foes and deal with them. For example, you may have axe-lobbing goons causing havoc on a balcony while a group of shambling zombies assault you from the front; do you deal with the ones in front first, or pick off the guys from afar?
Yes, it’s nothing revolutionary, but it’s a damn sight more interesting than just having enemies mindlessly run into a hail of lead. The House of the Dead makes you think fast, and encounters rarely get boring as the game always mixes up the type of foes it throws at you.
Meanwhile, while the DualShock 4 controller isn’t a great substitute for the light gun from the arcade or Sega Saturn original, it gets the job done. The sensitivity of the crosshair was pretty decent, and I didn’t have any problems finding my target, but the sooner PS Move is patched in, the better.
Bosses To Battle And Scientists To Save
Amidst all the spraying red stuff and broken bodies, you’ll face off against a series of bosses that each have a specific weak point. This is highlighted at the beginning of each battle, so it’s not too hard to hit your mark, but the bosses give you a decent ruck all the same.
Their designs, if anything, are pretty cool, and give these hulking adversaries a unique personality that sets them apart from the rudimentary baddies.
Throughout each level, you’re also encouraged to save fleeing scientists from marauding zombies, which more than often reward you with a precious life lamp (each hit you take from an enemy reduces one life point; lose them all and you’re dead, after which you can continue so long as you have credits, or later, exchange points for a new lease of life).
For the most part, these not only serve to give you a shot in the arm in terms of health, but also help to punctuate the core action, so they’re worth paying attention to. You’ll really need pinpoint accuracy and speed to rescue some of these poor folk.
Elsewhere, The House of the Dead Remake, like the original, features multiple pathways that you can take to keep things fresh. While these don’t impact the narrative (although there are three endings depending on how many points you have at the end), they do at least give you a different route to the end of the level.
Some require you to blast new openings yourself, while other happen if an enemy gives you a shove in the right direction.
Old-school Fun, But All Too Brief
Is House of the Dead Remake fun? Yes, absolutely. It’s also better with a mate in two, either battling the undead together or competing for scores, and multiple difficulties give you a chance to keep plugging away. The new Horde Mode is pretty filler stuff, as it’s simply the main game just with more enemies, but still worth a look.
Unfortunately, The House of the Dead Remake, like most of its genre stablemates, is all too brief. Newcomers can blast through it in about 45 minutes, and veterans could probably clear it in half-an-hour.
Yes, it’s enjoyable while it lasts and there’s reason to go back for more, but just don’t expect it to be a regular distraction on your PS4. Still, if you’re a fan of the original, it’s worth picking up for the budget price or if you simply fancy some classic 90s zombie-blasting shenanigans with a mate.
The House of the Dead Remake is out on April 28 for PS4, PC, and Xbox One.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.