The Typing of the Dead: Overkill PC Review
I have fond memories of the original The Typing of the Dead. The game single-handedly taught me to touch type. It was either learn to touch type or deal with the threat of a Dreamcast rendered zombie from The House of the Dead 2 coming to take a chomp out of my younger self. When my gaming life was on the line, I replied to the challenge and adapted until I got great at typing fast. That was over 13 years ago. The year is now 2013, and a completely unexpected follow up to The Typing of the Dead, named The Typing of the Dead: Overkill, sneakily shuffled onto the Steam release list like a zombie silently walking towards its oblivious prey. Being a huge admirer of the original, I simply just had to check out this new release.
With the subtitle of Overkill, fans should instantly know that this version of The Typing of the Dead is based on the PS3 port of The House of the Dead: Overkill, which was originally a Wii game, but was ported to PS3 and given two additional stages. If you’ve never played The House of the Dead: Overkill, then go read our original review for the Wii version, because what’s nice about The Typing of the Dead: Overkill is that it comes with the original title as well, meaning you can use your mouse as a light gun and shoot zombies in the face. I don’t want to speak much about the original game, as that works fine on the PC with a mouse. It’s not quite as fun as having a Wii remote or PlayStation Move in your hand and pretending it’s a gun, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.
It’s the same setting and story for this PC release, which means it comes with the nine chapters from the PS3 version, the B-movie grind-house production, a ridiculous story you that takes some fantastic turns (climbing back into your own mother? What?!), and, of course, the Guinness World Record for having the most profanity in a video game. Yes, that’s Overkill in a nutshell and it’s all here on the PC.
What’s different about The Typing of the Dead version of Overkill is that guns are no longer the weapon of choice. Instead, players must type out words or sentences to kill the undead. Surviving in this game means typing out such lines as “You’re no oil painting,” “Embrace your anger,” “Skin-tight leotard,” or even video game jokes like “All your base are belong to us.” The amount of times I chuckled at words that came on screen and made no sense was easily over double digits. It’s a stupid idea for a game, but in all honesty, it works, and it works well. It would be easy to write it off as being dumb, if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s just so much fun, and of course it also benefits the users by teaching them to type quickly.
The game makes sure that players keep their eyes on the action, because some zombies will throw items at the screen, which need deflecting by typing one or two letters. This means players have to make sure to decipher what will hit them first, a zombie or the incoming item, which is representing by the text box being highlighted in a specific colour. When it’s yellow, it means it’s fairly safe, but when it transforms red and begins to flash, then it means you best get your fingers into overdrive to prevent losing any health from being hit. Since you’re locked to a zombie’s sentence when you begin typing it, the developers have slotted in a feature that when the player hits backspace, it resets the typing, allowing the player to begin typing a word or letter that is related to the most dangerous enemy on screen.
Since there are no reticules to aim, special items that were required to be shot in the original The House of the Dead: Overkill are now picked up when the player presses Tab. This can certainly be abused, as there is no negative effect for constantly tapping Tab while playing the game. Boss fights aren’t as exciting as they were in the previous The Typing of the Dead. They require typing the same word length as normal enemies, with some smaller dangers thrown into the action to disrupt the flow. In The Typing of the Dead, the bosses would require you to type out incredible long sentences and paragraphs that made up a bizarre story. They were rather stressful to finish off without taking damage. It’s a shame that this isn’t implemented in The Typing of the Dead: Overkill.
While the game is short (around three hours on the typing version, but don’t forget there is also the original light gun game, plus its extended take on the levels, too), the game does randomise the words, meaning that each play should technically be different. I have occasionally seen repeated words pop up, so the dictionary isn’t that huge, but free dictionary updates are coming down the line, such as Shakespeare, Football Manager and Profanity themed words that can be blended into the game’s current word count. I, for one, can’t wait to see Shakespearian mixed with swear words. DLC is also coming for online multiplayer, because that feature didn’t make it in time for the game’s release on Halloween. There is also no local multiplayer.
The Typing of the Dead: Overkill is not a perfect port, as this PC release is as barebones as you can get. I suppose it makes sense that the game comes across feeling a little unpolished, because it was only in development since June 2013. That’s not a very long time when it comes to game development, and that short amount of time comes across in the game’s presentation. The resolutions can only be widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, so if you have a 16:10 monitor that produces 1920×1200 output, then you’re going to have to deal with the game being blown up to compensate the extra height. It’s also not the true resolution being set, as the internal framebuffer is locked to 1280×720, meaning your essentially upscaling the game to the desired resolution.
The game does run extremely well, staying at a solid 60fps on semi-recent PC gaming systems, thanks to the low requirements. The Typing of the Dead: Overkill’s visual style isn’t going to blow you away, since it’s a port of a port from the Wii and characters are low poly models that look sharper than the console version, but aren’t drastically different as one might expect with a PC version. There is also issues with sound, as within certain levels of my playthrough the sound effects would vanish during scripted quick time events (or should that be quick typing events?) These scenes would play out successfully, but lacked speech and sound effects until the scene was completed and the game returned to its on-rails path. Even though it does feel like it’s breaking at the seams, there’s no denying that it works, and that what you get to experience is a jolly good time that isn’t spoiled by the lack of PC graphical features.
The Typing of the Dead: Overkill is similar to those outlandish B-movie films that people deep down enjoyed simply for the fact that they are stupid. This game takes a basic premise and runs with it. As it turns out, it’s still a lot of fun, even after experiencing the first The Typing of the Dead. It makes me wonder why we don’t see more games transformed into typing experiences, because they are certainly worthy of being made, especially when they are an incredibly fun and inventive experience that The Typing of the Dead: Overkill turned out to be.