House of the Dead: Remake

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House of the Dead: Remake review
Dan Lenois


Where new meets old

Where dreaded evil seaps, nightmares doth creep…

While recent years have certainly brought on a bout of nostalgia for 90's pop culture, one thing I don’t think was necessarily on anyone’s radar was a remake for the classic light gun arcade machine title House of the Dead. This modern reiteration of the classic arcade machine which originally debuted on September 13th, 1996 in Japan, (followed by its subsequent western release on March 4th, 1997,) faithfully maintains the original’s absurdly bombastic and campy nature to the letter.

The premise, similar to that of other 90's point-and-click light gun arcade games like Time Crisis, is fairly simple at its core. You start your day like any other, only to find that a zombie apocalypse has started up right under your nose, as the typical result of a scientific experiment gone wrong.

You, the player, take on the role of special agent Thomas Rogan, who’s called in by his desperate fiancée Sophie, who needs you to single-handedly save her and the other researchers trapped at the mansion where the zombie outbreak is taking place. While it’s always good to be a supportive and attentive spouse, this is probably a clear-cut case of "I owe you".

Point-and-click: An elegant control scheme from a more civilized age…

While there’s no denying that in the late 2000's into the early 2010's, there was an over-abundance of point-and-click shooter games, with many of the specific entries ranging from either middling to disastrous quality, (one need scarcely mention Rambo: The Videogame, for instance,) the point-and-click genre has, for over a decade now, gone mostly the way of the dodo, which makes its return, in the form of House of the Dead here, something of a nostalgic mixed bag. Most younger players, who likely never had the opportunity to play the original arcade game, will probably not care for the restrictive nature of the game’s entirely on-rails combat, but for the rest of us that are old enough to remember holding the wired light guns in our hands, shooting at the arcade screen, re-enacting that same feel with a mouse and keyboard is more than an acceptable consolation prize.

"You had me at 'Hello' ": Where new meets old…

In addition to the classic arcade game mode, with its assorted difficulty levels, House of the Dead: Remake brings with it a new "Photo mode" system, a new achievements system, and a 3D interactable gallery of all the monsters you’ve faced in the game, all of which collectively amounts to a nice set of bonus features for players both new and old. Most notable of these new inclusions, however, is the all-new game mode, "Horde mode". While this mode does not bring with it a new story campaign or any new individual levels, it functions as a more high-intensity version of the classic campaign. While one can’t technically refer to it as an additional higher difficulty standard, it instead functions as a more-obvious cooperative multiplayer experience. Although the story and locations play out the same, the player will encounter double if not triple the usual number of zombies in each encounter. Whilst it is more than possible for a single player to commit to a successful playthrough without losing too many lives, it is strongly advisable to bring along a buddy to share in the carnage for this particular mode.

Multiplayer, but from a certain point of view…

One notable downside to the inherently cooperative multiplayer experience here in House of the Dead: Remake is the lack of support for online play. While there’s no denying that the original arcade game could only be played cooperatively side-by-side with your partner, this is not the 1990's, and this game isn’t being played off a physical 6-foot-tall machine, but rather an individual computer, in the modern age where most people play together remotely. While writing in new netcode to support online play would have required a bit more effort from the developers, the ease of the multiplayer access it would’ve provided the player base would’ve been an enormous credit to the game. As it stands right now, unless you’re one of the lucky few whose setup and social circle both allow for frequent in-person PC gaming opportunities, the decision not to include drop-in/drop-out online play comes across as a definite missed opportunity.

Final thoughts

House of the Dead: Remake, as a simple remaster, is an excellent example of what a remaster is supposed to be. It gives the original game a visual facelift while going to the extreme to not tamper with the familiar gameplay and aesthetic that long time fans have come to know and love. But anyone would be hard-pressed to consider this as a remake, rather than a remaster. Where the game begins to flounder is in regards to the very limited pool of new content. The lack of online multiplayer support, combined with the limited amount of new content to keep fans occupied beyond the first hour, makes it hard to justify the $24.99 retail price. If the game had launched at $9.99 or $14.99 instead, these limited additions might have been an easier pill to swallow. As it stands, while the small changes and additions might prove to be a love letter to existing fans, House of the Dead: Remake doesn’t do much to appeal to potential new fans as well.

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fun score


Faithfully recreates the original game, worthwhile new game mode and photo mode feature


Local multiplayer support only, no online drop-in/drop-out, the meagre amount of new content doesn’t justify the game’s retail price