In the heyday of the arcade back in the 90s, Sega was one of the most popular makers of video games and arcade games. And, one of my favourite arcade game genres was none other than light gun shooter games. Originally released in 1996, House of the Dead was a horror themed light gun shooter game from Sega.
The House of the Dead series spawned six light gun games over the years and even more spin off games. Additionally, there were two House of the Dead films released in the early 2000s. While the days of light gun based games at home are virtually non-existent, Forever Entertainment is reviving the original game for 2022 audiences with House of the Dead Remake.
House of the Dead Remake Details
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia and PC
Reviewed on: Google Stadia
Developer(s): Forever Entertainment S. A., MegaPixel Studio
Publisher(s): Forever Entertainment S. A., Microids, Maximum Games
Genre: Shooter game, Light gun
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer (1-2 player local co-op)
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
Nobody leaves alive!
As with pretty much all the House of the Dead games, the story is extremely cheesy and corny. As is the voice acting, more on that later. The game takes place in 1998 and you play as AMS Agents Thomas Rogan and his partner “G”. The two receive a distress call from Thomas’ fiancée who is at the Curien Mansion.
Biochemist and geneticist Dr. Curien’s, who is obsessed with discovering the nature of life and death, erratic and gruesome experiments have broken loose from his laboratory and now the undead creatures have overrun the mansion. It’s up to you to rescue Thomas’ fiancée and put a stop to Dr. Curien and his gruesome experiments once and for all!
While the game’s story and writing are akin to low-budget B movie productions, it’s this cheesiness that is part of the game’s appeal. Strangely enough, it starts to grow on you after a while of playing. Sort of like cult classic horror movies in the cinema.
True to form arcade gameplay
When House of the Dead originally released in the arcade and at home, it included a plastic light gun peripheral that you used to shoot the zombies on the screen. These plastic light gun peripherals worked great CRT displays at the time, long before OLED, LCD and what we now consider modern day televisions.
However, with the evolution of display technologies these same peripherals no longer worked. Instead, to play House of the Dead Remake you can use a controller, keyboard and mouse, or gyro controls. While not entirely the same experience as long time fans will remember, the developer did a great job to make all three work great.
You can play local multiplayer co-op with a friend, and the game contains multiple endings and branching story paths that lend to its replayability. There are researchers to save, bonus items to collect. Additionally, you can earn extra lives and score bonuses by shooting objects in the background and rescuing researchers in the mansion.
Modern gameplay enhancements
House of the Dead Remake introduces some additions to gameplay that help modernize it for the 2022 gamer. For starters, there is now an armoury with unlockable weapons. You can now unlock different weapons such as grenade launchers, crossbows and more in addition to your default pistol.
Additionally, there are “classic” and “modern” versions of the scoring system. Furthermore, you can choose between easy, normal, hard, and arcade difficulties, which give you more or less lives. The harder the difficulty, the more points you can earn.
One of my favourite additions to House of the Dead Remake is the new Horde Mode. In this challenging, yet impressive mode there are up to 15 times more enemies on-screen. Other additions include leaderboards, achievements, cheat codes, a photo mode, and a gallery that shows the names, 3D models, descriptions, and weak points of creatures.
Updated visuals for the modern gamer
The original source code from House of the Dead was lost at Sega. So, Forever Entertainment made House of the Dead Remake from the ground up using the unity game engine. While still retaining its 90s arcade appeal, House of the Dead Remake is light years beyond its 1996 arcade counterpart.
Although the game received new voice acting, it’s extremely corny—just like the 1996 arcade original. And, as mentioned earlier, I’m ok with that. It adds to the game’s arcade feel and look.
Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with what Forever Entertainment achieved with House of the Dead Remake, given what they had to work with and a global pandemic.
House of the Dead Remake is an arcade classic with modern graphics and controls
If you are a fan of light gun, on rails shooters and the House of the Dead series of video games, You’ll love House of the Dead Remake. The updated visuals and gameplay modes that Forever Entertainment included are a welcomed addition and add replay value to the game.
If you are looking for a 10-20 hour experience, you’ll want to look elsewhere. House of the Dead Remake is an arcade experience through and through. On average, you’ll probably spend around 2-3 hours playing to unlock all the endings. And, maybe an hour or two more in the horde mode and getting collectibles and weapons.
As a fan of classic Sega games, I hope Forever Entertainment continues to remake even more Sega classics in the near future.
+ Updated visuals and modernized gameplay
+ Horde mode is challenging yet extremely fun
+ Retains the 1996 arcade original cheesy appeal
– Some may find the game’s length too short
– Local multiplayer co-op only, no online play
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF HOUSE OF THE DEAD REMAKE
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3/5