The House of the Dead was always one of those crazy on-rails shooters that you played at the arcade. It had everything people could potentially want from an arcade game: Light gun shooting, fast paced co-op action, and zombies; lots and lots of zombies. Fast forward to 2000, and SEGA surprises everyone with a new take on their popular franchise. Exclusive to the Dreamcast and PC (also getting a release on the PS2 in 2004 and the iOS in 2012), The Typing of the Dead was pretty much what you think it is; an on-rails shooter where you type words instead of shoot bullets. It was a modded version of The House of the Dead 2, sub-par voice acting and all. The game was received with mixed reviews; appreciated by some, and vilified by others.
Years pass, and the game slowly gains a cult following, much like some obscure games tend to do. For the longest time, even I wanted to play it myself. It’s a dying medium, these games; it’s a treat to play typing games, but sadly developers don’t make the jump with making them anymore. Cut to October 29th, 2013. I search the Halloween sales on Steam and see something that made me both smile and gasp in glee. Released on the day of the sale for half off of its usual price, I saw The Typing of the Dead: Overkill.
Now, for those who have a Wii or a PS3 (with the PS Move, of course), you might have seen or heard of a little game called “The House of the Dead: Overkill.” This light gun on-rails shooter was critically acclaimed by many reviewers, calling it “one of the Wii’s greatest guilty pleasures.” It was a game that gave no fucks to what it showed and said; Overkill was gritty, profane, and disgusting. It even received the Guinness World Record for Most Profane Video Game in History (although this reward was taken away when Mafia II released a year later). I sadly missed the opportunity to play it on Wii, so I wasn’t about to kick myself about not getting The Typing of the Dead: Overkill.
I regret nothing.
Oh god, oh god, oh god!
The Typing of the Dead: Overkill is more than just a modded version of its light gun counterpart; it’s actually a collection that includes the Director’s Cut version (AKA the PS3 version, if you’re curious), which you can play with a mouse (or if you’re risky, a controller). The basics of The House of the Dead: Overkill is that you kill every zom- Oh, er… “mutant” on the screen, then you move from screen to screen progressing through the level. As you progress, you can find piles of money, which you can use to buy new weapons and upgrade them. You can also find various collectables, like concept art, 3D models, and even music. Once you beat the game, you can play through the game again in “Director’s Cut” mode, where enemies are tougher, the levels are longer, and you have limited continues. You can play solo or with a friend; one taking the role of Agent G, and the other taking the role of Detective Isaac Washington.
Killing a mutant will add to your combo meter, but missing a shot at any point or getting hit will completely reset your combo. The higher your combo, the greater amount of points you get for killing a mutant. If you need time to slow down just a tad, you can shoot a “Slow Mo-Fo” power-up (yes, that’s what it’s called. No, I’m not shitting you) and easily dispatch any pack. If you run low on health, you can find health packs and restore your health. Want to obliterate a pack of mutants? Grab a grenade power-up and clean house.
There are nine levels in The House of the Dead: Overkill, seven of which are of the main storyline with Agent G and Detective Washington, and the other two involve side characters Varla Guns and Candi Stryper in a special side story (these two missions were added in the Director’s Cut edition on PS3). Each “episode” treats itself like an old grindhouse film, with every zombie horror movie cliché melded into one hilarious experience. Each level takes between 15-25 minutes, totaling about 3 hours of gameplay. It might not sound like much, but this arcade-like game is meant to be played multiple times through, with and without friends. There are also mini-games you can play, if extra content strikes your fancy.
Now onto the bread and butter of this collection, The Typing of the Dead: Overkill. This time, players type randomly generated words and phrases to kill mutants in rapid succession. If you’re a slow typist, then you might have some issue with this game. Nothing changes story-wise or level-wise (save for different placements of various collectables), however instead of shooting targets (this game’s quick-time events, which are actually fun), you type words. To help with this change of gameplay, they made these sequences a bit slower than House of the Dead’s so players could more easily type them. Getting collectables is just as easy as hitting the Tab button, and if you want to change what mutant you’re typing at, it’s as easy as pressing Backspace. You also don’t need to press the spacebar between words or capitalize words, just type the character and the game’s fine with it.
Damnit, type faster and more accurately!
The graphics are something of a marvel to experience. They’re not bad, but they’re not good either. “Why did I give this such a high score,” you must be asking yourself. Well to me, it’s not the graphics; it’s the use of the style the game interprets itself as. As mentioned before, the game treats itself like a series of 80’s grindhouse films (see Quentin Terantino’s work, if you’re wondering). The game has a gritty 80’s movie filter with a lot of noise built into it. Loading screens say “intermission,” and at some points they poke fun at various tropes, like “film missing” during the climatic final battle. In the original Overkill on the Wii, getting a Goregasm (25 kills without missing or getting hit) meant an American flag waved near the score and health bar. This was sadly removed for some reason (probably to avoid offending other nations, so what can you do?), but it doesn’t really detract from the overall experience. You are playing a game that structures itself at a B-rated 80’s flick, and you’re literally along for the ride as you “motherfucker” your way through each uniquely designed level.
The animations are pretty much what you’d expect from a HotD game, honestly; sometimes solid, and sometimes blocky.
…The hell is a “phantom ballplayer?” To hell with it, just type it!
The sounds are pretty solid, admittedly. Each gun has a unique sound to them. The music in-game is great, although loopy. When on the main menu, the music that plays uses the in-game music, but with some special quips and dialogue included that make them pretty funny. The voice acting is incredibly okay, which is why it’s great. It is voice acting you’d expect from a House of the Dead game; great at times and bad at times. The grindhouse narrator is great to listen to whenever he speaks, because he also doesn’t give a fuck about profanity. (The “fuck” count in this game is 179, by the way. That’s one fuck per minute.) Each character has a limited personality with a limited backstory that they work with for the voices, and they are just as generic you’d believe them to be, which is excellent.
Overall: 8.5 (Awesome)
The Typing of the Dead: Overkill fills that void in everyone’s life. It’s a fun and addicting typing game, just like its predecessor, and includes the original version in HD for people who just want to play a fun on-rails shooter. For people who are purists and would rather pay to get the original on Wii or the HD version on PS3 so you can play with motion controls, then you should still at least give this game a shot because of the well-executed Typing edition of the game. However, if you’re not very good at typing as well, then perhaps you’re better off getting the game on PSN so you can at least experience this gem.
The Typing of the Dead: Overkill is now available on Steam for $19.99 USD.