A short adventure of the cussing kind
When the original The Typing of the Dead (1999) hit arcades and home consoles, Sega pretty much just rereleased its rail shooter The House of the Dead from 1996. However, while doing so, the developer added a fundamental twist that made it a cult classic with audiences in Asia and North America. Instead of playing with a light gun and having to shoot zombies, one now had to use a computer keyboard and spell out words correctly. In 2009 then, the London-based developer Headstrong Games wanted to revitalize the Japanese franchise with The House of the Dead: Overkill, giving it a specific grindhouse horror movie feel. In 2013 then, Blitz Game Studios and after that, UK-based Modern Dream developed and released The Typing of the Dead: Overkill.
About the game
As this is a typing game, it makes a lot of sense that you have to rely on your keyboard in order to play. This also means that, because your average computer is not a fan of having two keyboards or two mice plugged in at once, co-op is limited to online play. There are also three difficulty settings with word lengths reaching from one letter to entire sentences with thirty letters in them (including special characters and numbers). As if that weren’t enough, if the game’s base vocabulary is too small for you, or you want an extra challenge, you can also buy seven thematic vocabulary DLCs for the game or use the Steam Workshop to extend your experience. Having a zombie run towards you while having to type out Shakespeare quotes is simply a blast. Another neat thing is that when you buy this game, it comes with a PC Port of The House of the Dead: Overkill, which originally came out for the Nintendo Wii. The only problem is, since you’re on a PC, you’ll be using your mouse. The game doesn’t have any light gun support and playing a rail shooter with a mouse just isn’t the same thing.
Just a heads up
I personally enjoy the length of the game, still, before buying this, keep in mind that it’s modelled after arcade shooters, so you’ll have seen everything after two to three hours of playtime. If you’re a pretty good typist and completionist, you’ll also have acquired all the achievements after 12 hours maximum (with the exception of the Challenge Accepted achievement: Complete all challenges in all Director’s Cut levels in House of the Dead). These things are definitely a plus for fans of short games, although if you’re looking to be taken on a grand adventure then this is certainly the wrong place to look for it.
Definitely not for children
With The Typing of the Dead: Overkill one can definitely feel that this game was produced by Sega UK as the characters and narrative both have a very strong, Western feel to them. Granted, the first two The Typing of the Dead games might not have been the most child friendly games out there, still preteens and teens at Asian arcades had lots of fun with them. This game, however, is a completely different shoe. I don’t have any issues with profanity in fiction, but whenever the characters here open their mouths, the same four or five cuss words come out. Certainly this is because of the grindhouse style that they were going for, sadly this humor is lost on someone like me, who doesn’t like this movie genre. That, combined with the revolting and grotesque art design, was a massive turn off. (Despite liking the monster design in Resident Evil, I found the ones here to be repulsive.)
As the game did not receive clearance in Germany, there isn’t a German language support, however, you can switch between British English and American English spelling, as well as play in French, Spanish, or Italian. I’m telling you this, not because it is a good method to learn the orthography in these languages, but because every once in a while the game has problems keeping these languages apart, meaning that it may happen that you’ll occasionally have to type words in French or Spanish. The reason why that can be problematic is because your keyboard probably might not have the necessary diacritic markers to type these: ê, é, è, ñ.
Glitches & bugs
Like I mentioned above, the game sometimes confuses the included language packs somehow, making it impossible to type certain words correctly. There are also occasional graphical glitches wherein body parts are not rendered and players can look inside the models. It is certainly possible that this problem is because of my computer, but I mention it nonthelesss as I have also seen other users report similar issues in the Steam forum. When you’re playing The House of the Dead: Overkill, you’ll also sometimes miss zombies even though your mouse pointer is aimed right at them.
If you played and loved the previous The Typing of the Dead games, chances are, you will not like this iteration’s unique style as much. This doesn’t mean that it’s a bad game, just that it’s designed with fans of the grindhouse genre in mind. There are a lot of great jokes and it is fun for in-between, but for me, the novelty was quickly overshadowed by its grindhouse motif. So unless you’re up for that, better stay away from this one.
As for the two play styles, while the typing campaign is a lot of fun, playing the rail shooter / mouse clicker campaign just wasn’t enjoyable. Especially boss fights where you just click on the boss until they go down were underwhelming. Nevertheless, the developers are awesome for their highly creative DLC and for adding Steam Workshop support so players can create their own add-ons. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill also comes with a director’s cut, an unlockable comic, upgradeable weapons, and a soundtrack, all of which add some replayability to it.
The game is a 7 zombie movies out of 10
Where to get
The Typing of the Dead: Overkill is available as digital download on Steam for $19.99 USD or your local equivalent.
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All screenshots taken by me during my playthrough and recorded using the Steam Overlay feature.