Developer: Modern Dream
Did you buy it? Please tell me you bought it.
The Typing Of The Dead: OVERKILL is long overdue: a sequel to the quirky arcade shooter/typing trainer hybrid that released in arcades, on PC and Dreamcasts many years ago. It's effectively a straight-up port of SEGA's grindHouse Of The Dead reboot, but instead of blasting zombies with a lightgun or WiiMote, you'll type words and phrases that appear on screen to emancipate undead brains from their skulls, paying close attention to punctuation and grammar as you do so. The very idea seems bizarre and even a little stupid when laid out in matter-of-fact terms, but in practice, it's one of the most intense and enjoyable House Of The Dead games to have released in the last decade.
And it was also 50% off for the first 48 hours after launch, which have almost certainly expired by the time you read this sentence. I have failed you. Remind me, are there one or two Ps in 'seppuku'?
The House Of The Dead: Overkill campaign is retained in all of its grainy, blue, insane, sweary, gruesome glory; telling the story of young agent G (him of "suffer like G did!" fame) and hardbitten cop Isaac Washington on a rollercoaster ride to defeat an undead outbreak in the most politically incorrect way possible. Though graphically somewhat underpowered and locked to a 720p resolution, heavy film grain makes the action look suitably gritty rather than primitive (and the Wii version's frame rate dips are a thing of the past), while its rampantly silly personality can barely be contained. Sporting sidesplitting banter, eyecatching environments, a groovy funk soundtrack and perfectly-observed grindhouse parody at every turn, it really is a rip-roaring romp of the first order.
Effectively, it's playable Planet Terror.
However, House Of The Dead: Overkill has been available on Wii and PS3 for years, so we have to answer one major question: is it worth trading in a lightgun for a QWERTY keyboard?
Yes. A thousand times yes.
Far from watering down the original arcade shooter, the new input method actually makes House Of The Dead even more intense and engaging. You have to maintain total situational awareness to prioritise targets and snag useful upgrades with a quick tap of the Tab key, but also pay close attention to capitalisation, spacing and grammar to keep your combo up and put down the zombies before they start ripping great gouges out of your health bar. To put this in perspective: the reason this review is late is that I tried to record about a dozen video playthroughs, but simply couldn't maintain enough concentration to usefully commentate over the action.
As you continue to play, you'll realise that you've stopped fumbling and started touch-typing, while even those with significant typing experience will likely find their Words Per Minute hit new heights. Half genuinely effective typing trainer, half thrillingly intense shooter and all rambunctious fun factory, The Typing Of The Dead: Overkill absolutely takes care of business from a gameplay standpoint.
Modern Dream have matched the ridiculously OTT personality of the source material with fittingly irreverent words and phrases to type in, many of which will challenge you to continue tapping away while laughing uncontrollably, your shoulders shaking like a pneumatic drill. "Man Boobs." Jedi Mind Tricks." "Thank you Obama." Puerile and silly, yes, but so very appropriate.
I'm also delighted to report that we can choose between UK and US dictionaries, which is a lovely little touch for us Brits. It literally puts the 'u' in 'humour.'
Raw value is excellent and not too shabby even at its full £14.99 RRP. Arcade shooters are already eminently replayable due to their score attack nature, and The Typing Of The Dead: Overkill pushes the boat out on hidden collectibles to discover during repeat playthroughs. Better yet, the original House Of The Dead: Overkill is also included, which allows us to play using traditional mouse controls [thanks Tsung]. Co-op is coming via a DLC update down the line, somewhat excitingly.
I daresay that some players will find themselves totally turned off by the typing gameplay, while others will simply opt to pick up The House Of The Dead: Overkill on Wii or PS3 instead. Personally, though, I feel that this is perhaps the most fun that the franchise has been since it left the Dreamcast - and I've been a fan since the Saturn.
- Fun, intense and hilarious hybrid gameplay
- Impressive raw value
- A genuinely useful way of improving your touch-typing and WPM
- Separate US and UK dictionaries! Colour us excited.
- Graphically unambitious
- Bizarre premise might deter some players - especially since House Of The Dead: Overkill can be bought for a similar price on Wii and PS3
- Co-op not available at launch
The Short Version: The Typing Of The Dead: Overkill turns your keyboard into a deadly weapon, providing hours of hilarious hybrid gameplay. A brilliant, anarchic and thoroughly intense way of experiencing this ridiculous grindhouse blasterpiece.
Plus, it mite even improov yor speling two.