Remake of the arcade classic brings revitalized game modes and graphics. But would it be enough?
Released in 1996 for the arcade, The House of the Dead attracted countless people to old arcades and set new standards between the 1980s and 1990s. A member of the rail shooter category, where players appear to be “on rails” while shooting with physical weapons or virtual in third person, the title raised the graphic level and presented a horror in the best style The Night of the Living Dead (1968).
The game took advantage of a number of features to take the audience to the height of horror in video games, generating an immersive and stimulating experience. And despite its native difficulty, participants bought a lot of tokens to guarantee “Continue” after the Game Over, in order to try to discover what secrets the halls of the macabre mansion kept.
Now, nearly 30 years after the release of the original game, developer MegaPixel Studio presents The House of the Dead Remake and proposes radical changes. With revitalized graphics, more accurate gameplay, additional settings and many mysteries in the campaign, the game returns more imposing and shows that time is not an issue when it comes to nostalgia.
But, in relation to the most recent projects and the reworked products, is it possible to say that the remake was successful and knew how to respect the feelings of the fans?
In The House of the Dead Remake, every artistic design detail has been improved. The haunted mansion is beautiful and its information is fully perceptible. There’s no blurring during camera or map transitions, and the visual effects — in 4K — contribute to a macabre atmosphere, fueling claustrophobic feelings and quick reactions to shoot anything that moves.
The undead and other threats — leeches and bats — have lost their polygonal aspects and are more graphically pleasing. With this, the feeling of repetition is left aside to guarantee a wide variety of monsters, where each one of them has different speed and movement pattern, unique equipment and special animations during attack and death.
A detail that should not go unnoticed by players is the physics of the game. During combat, it is possible to dismember the monsters after shooting at specific regions of the body, something that results in an explosion of blood with “drops” similar to those of the old Mortal Kombat . In addition, the pieces of arms, torso and legs remain in the scenario and can continue to take bullets.
The remake also includes technical improvements to the audio system and reinforces the importance of ambient sounds for greater 3rd person realism. Noises are noticeable in every doorway, hallway or doorway and are combined with a classic soundtrack that varies according to the stages and intensity of fights in certain areas.
Short and stimulating campaign
Each run of The House of the Dead Remake can be completed in less than 30 minutes , with time depending on fighting one of the four bosses in the game. However, despite this relatively short duration, the title has a high replayability factor and keeps secrets that will certainly go unnoticed in the first explorations.
Unfortunately, the game’s narrative approach remains underused, and the player will have no idea what’s going on there. Mansion with undead? Secret experiments? Mad scientist? Creatures turned into machines? None of that will matter. Simply press “X” from start to finish and draw your own interpretation.
Generally speaking, in The House of the Dead Remake, a police officer is sent to investigate possible murders in a huge residence and must save a group of people forced to carry out a dubious project. That way, each of these NPCs can be rescued if players shoot accurately and memorize which zombie will attack first.
Losing one of the characters compromises the final score of each act; while saving everyone will contribute to extra benefits such as HP recovery, points and trophies. In addition, the scenarios are full of secret and alternate paths, breakable structures and other new features, requiring a new gameplay to be started to carry out a full exploration and discover all the secrets of the mansion.
Boring and repetitive? Not even!
In 30 minutes, players must shoot non-stop at all kinds of zombies, to seek higher scores to replenish life and stay in the game. As in arcades, The House of the Dead Remake works on the basis of “Continues”, but if the number of deaths exceeds the available “chips”, the continuation of the campaign will be paid with the points obtained.
With the short duration, the title resembles more of a tech demo where it is possible to try out some new features, but it works in a round way and gives the feeling of completeness. Furthermore, shooting the monsters remains fun and delivers satisfying sensations, both for the excellent technical work and for the removal of the “bullet sponge” concepts.
The impact of the shots is cool and contributes to an even greater immersion, especially because the game’s proposal is exactly that: putting the audience in a life or death situation. On this side, the game is quite accessible for those looking for a quick and uncompromising game play.
One is good. Two is better and easier?
Just like in arcades, The House of the Dead Remake has a two-player campaign mode and allows you to fully explore the story alongside a friend, in local co-op. This integration doesn’t add any extra difficulty or any readjustment to zombie behavior, being literally the easy mode of the game.
However, if the duo wants to try something more challenging, it is possible to play the main story on “Normal” and “Hard” difficulties. In addition, MegaPixel Studio has made available an alternative entitled “Horde”, which contains up to 15 times the number of original creatures in a campaign identical to the story mode.
As an arcade port, The House of the Dead Remake has undergone numerous accessibility and console adaptation improvements. In the settings menu, you can set the appearance and size of the HUD, crosshair sensitivity, auto-reload time and other details — motion sensor helps a lot . However, everything in the game boils down to pressing “X” or “R2” tirelessly and few of these changes really make a difference in gameplay.
As a result, it only takes a few minutes for the fingers and arms to start to ache or create discomfort. The action is short, but it’s also physically exhausting, without offering any rest from the tracks or relief through new animation scenes, better-crafted story, or timed pauses to smooth the user experience.
Therefore, players can feel the absence of optional content, such as automatic weapons – just hold the “X” to shoot -, items to streamline gameplay and implementations. Thus, it is possible to say that the remake remains faithful to the letter compared to the original title, but also in relation to a time when little – or almost nothing – was discussed about accessibility in games.
The House of the Dead Remake: is it worth it?
The House of the Dead Remake knew how to respect the audience’s nostalgia, but it lacked ambition. The title features secret areas and new ways to earn points, but it boils down to the same game from almost 30 years ago, without new animations, significant content or gameplay expansions.
Despite the good technical work, the game remains in a common area and does not take advantage of new hardware. That is to say the beauty is there, but it could also have been seen under the greatness of a PlayStation 3 generation , for example.
The remake of The House of the Dead fulfills its purpose, both for its fast-paced campaign and the two-player mode. However, it’s important to play it without high expectations and just looking to have fun — especially for the short duration.
The House of the Dead Remake
System: PlayStation 4
Developer: MegaPixel Studio
Players: 1 or 2 buy on amazon
70 Overall ranking of 100
- improved physics
- Fully reworked graphics and sounds
- Smoother gameplay
- Additional game mode and co-op
- Lack of additional content
- Lack of more accessibility features
- No online co-op support
- short durability