Confession time (again!): I’d never heard of the mobile game or its sequel here until I fired up the review code I got for Into the Dead 2 ($34.99 digitally, base game), but that really made a difference when it came to my overall enjoyment of what’s here. Developer PikPok and publisher Versus Evil’s game is a pretty good one overall, with simple to grasp mechanics, great looks, plenty of levels and a few modes to kick back with for endless zombie-killing fun. The removal of the F2P elements is also a big key here because despite the cost, it’s actually a case where one is getting a better value on the Switch once you whip out a calculator and tally things up.
Yes, on mobile, it’s a free to play experience… at least if you want to play wthin the limits imposed on you and buy in for more weapons and content with cash. From a few spins with the mobile version this week thanks to a friend who’s got it on his phone, that mobile game jumps on your face with ads and offers for new content (as mobile games do to get you to spend more than that “free” you didn’t spend). Argh, but so goes some mobile gaming on devices.
The Switch port drops this in favor of unlocking content as you go with no payment needed (outside the 2 DLC packs) and you can play all 60 story missions and 36 side missions as as the previous areas are cleared, In Arcade mode, 21 levels await getting a set number of kills per mission to proceed. The two spends for digital users are the optional Night of the Living Dead and Ghostbusters-themed missions ($4.99 each), but those come in the physical version as part of the package for $39.99. You can actually save $5 by not buying the extra content separately and buy the $39.99 Bundle that has both the game and extra DLC as a digital or physical version, if you like.
Both story and gameplay keep it simple, but this keeps the pace pumping fast and furiously with downtime limited to the cinematic sections that drive the plot between all the automatic running. You’re in motion, constantly moving forward or dodging left and right, occasionally jumping short fences and making sure not to run into walls (or zombies). Ammo needs to be conserved, as pickups are limited to what you find while traveling, but for the most part, the shooting is handled well it’s all manual, there a reload option when you need to load up. You want to avoid getting up close and personal with the undead, as this automatically ends a run with a crunchy bit of business as you get chomped. While levels are short overall, you have to cover varying distances and terrain and the replay value is there for those who groove on this sort of thing.
That’s pretty much it, although this simple play in Story and Arcade has a way of taking over (sometimes for a few hours) once you get into running and re-running levels to beat your older scores. Better scores means better rewards and more rewards, especially in Arcade Mode where all the kills are calculated by a Skull system (more skulls, more rewards). Story and Arcade Mode drop in new weapons every mission, plus some nice power-ups can be purchased or found, but you can also choose some animals in certain missions to run interference or outright dispatch foes. There a Space Harrier-like vibe here in the always in motion thing with a feel of a classic light gun shooter mixed in, so the accessibility makes for a fun time overall.In short, it plays like an arcade game and can’t properly be called a “shooter”, but it’s sure a thrill ride to play.
Challenge here is mostly the game dropping enemies in that take more hits and a whole bunch of zombies in some areas where you need to be as perfect a runner and even ore perfect shot as it gets. But there are some really nice levels to run through and as noted, the visuals are quite excellent overall. Gotta love the eerie atmosphere the game sets up, that’s for sure. Caveats include no way to juke or spin around those zombies, occasionally you may get off to a bad start when some missions have too many distracting elements, and yes, you might get stuck on some objects or take a path where your character has no way out because you moved too far left or right (and it’s failure time too fast!).
At some point, I went to my computer’s Calculator and after a bit of poking around looking up fees for the app version, added up what the paid mobile content was versus the Switch cost and noticed that you’re getting a better deal here by far if you want everything including the new stuff the console version brings to the table. In other words, if you like the experience and want to play missions and earn weapons with some grinding work, but less reaching for your wallet (the initial spend is all that’s required), well, here you go. Sure it’s repetitive and a tad grindy when it gets its hooks into you. But that’s the mark of a good arcade experience, that “one more game” thing. If you’re all in that camp, this comes recommended.
Score: B (80%)
-Review code provided by the publisher