Also known as Vaccine in the west, this is something I’ve had my eye on for a while. In a sea of games replicating NES, SNES, etc., it was nice to see a game inspired by old PS1 games – and one of the grandest genres to come out of the PS1: the survival horror.
Luckily Dead House wears its love on its sleeve, and adds an interesting element that I would like to see utilized again. Dead House has good things going for it that make it a recommendable title if ya got the cheese to spare.
There is one simple objective to the game: get the vaccine for your stupid friend who got themselves infected by a zombie virus. You must navigate a house full of such zombies and other critters to get it and give it to your pal…just for them to get infected again, but this time with a shorter time limit!
The layout of the spoopy mansion is randomized every time, as are the enemy and item locations. It is kinda like a rogue-like survival horror, which I dig really hard. Making a horror game with always-different areas adds unpredictability, makes it feel more maze-like, and adds a sense of surrealism (due to the impossible nature of how this mansion is structured) that works very well for these types of games. Walking into a bedroom, then opening another door into an outdoor hall, into a big kitchen, into a marble statue room, makes it almost dreamlike. Weapons and certain enemies being placed seemingly gives more of that unpredictability that adds joy or dread; if you can find that shotgun early, thank god! If you go room to room without finding a damn thing, oh no!
The game visually just screams Resident Evil, in a good way. There’s a charm to these graphics, especially when added to horror games. They don’t end up much scarier, but it’s like a hallmark of the genre, to me anyways. It’s another good compliment to the game.
Time’s low I ain’t got time for you to pledge allegiance to me
The controls are tank controls. Yes, those controls that many find grief with, but are also a staple of horror. I’ve never had an issue with tank controls, finding it more of a strategic style of combat and movement compared to more free movement. It makes all movements that much more deliberate and adds tension to danger because of how tough it is to be nimble. It works as well as it did in old Resident Evil games, with the ability to shoot up and down and back away with an animation like “nope, not dealin with this shit”.
Each time you do your runs, you gain EXP to level up various skills of the two characters. They each start out with different skill levels, but as you earn EXP, you can mold the character into whatever you want, so the choice at the beginning doesn’t make too much of a difference. The stat levelling can cater to certain desired results such as more damage, more health, quicker interactions, more item drops, etc. You usually only have enough to be a Jack of all Trades or specialize in a few things. I suggest damage just to curbstomp any potential foes and save ammo, but any route is viable.
One fun little thing is you can sometimes find the character you didn’t pick wandering the halls as a zombie and your person expressing shock. Nice touch. You can also find yourself, which is a little weird.
“Who are you?” “I’m you but sicker”
So overall I really like everything this game has going for it. Presentation and play are nice shit. But unfortunately, there is one thing that makes me rub ashes all over my face in front of the cold heartless sea: it is over damn quick. You keep healing your friend with less and less time until you solve the puzzle and end the loop. Can be done on the 3rd run. It is quite short and kinda makes me bummed that there is not really any more substance past this besides trying to do it faster & better, but then again, it is just a lil’ game on the Switch eShop. It’s more on me because I was excited for some solid PS1 zombie-killin’, but it’s not a typical full-length game I could get a solid 6 hours out of.
Oh well, it’s fun while it lasts, almost like everything on the Switch right now.