It seems like only yesterday that THE WALKING DEAD and 28 DAYS LATER revived the zombie trope for a new generation. Actually, I’m lying: it feels like it’s been 2000 years. I’ve seen Negan so much that I feel like I know him better than I know some of my family. So, what can a game do to stay fresh in what feels like a very tired sub-genre? Into the Dead 2 aims to find out.
I was not expecting Into the Dead 2 to be what it is: a rail shooter. I’m not all that familiar with the franchise, upon further research, some of the decisions in that went into the making of the game show its mobile-gaming roots. Not that that’s a bad thing: I actually think that ports of competent mobile games are totally fine, and sometimes are better suited to the way I choose to play on the Switch (mostly handheld). But rail shooters are a staple of the App Store, and I should have seen it coming.
However, let’s not dismiss Into the Dead 2 just yet, because there’s more to this game than meets the eye. First, though, let’s focus on what does meet the eye: the presentation. Graphically, the game looks absolutely great, particularly considering its origins. I’m very surprised that games can look this good on phones, but then again, phones are way more powerful than my first ever cellphone, a Motorola StarTac. It runs really well, too, for the most part: there are almost no framedrops, and the particle effects are very good. My main gripe with Into The Dead 2’s presentation is the fact that I experienced several crashes. I review games as a job, so I play a lot of them. This is the first time I’ve been frustrated to the point of giving up by a game crashing on me. Shame, as really, the graphics are just the tip of the great presentation iceberg.
To me, it’s the story and the voice acting that really help push this game above and beyond its competition. You see, the story is simple (you fight your way to your family after a zombie outbreak), but the characters are somehow rich. It is, of course, in no small part thanks to the fantastic voice acting, which again, surprises me for a game whose seeds are planted firmly in the Play Store soil. Overall, the presentation package of Into The Dead 2 is mighty impressive, and if they’re able to fix the (as of right now, unforgivable) crashes, this will be a game whose presentation is almost without fault.
Gameplay-wise, it’s your typical rail shooter affair, but that’s not a bad thing. You must find the perfect balance between conserving your (sparse) ammo, and achieving your secondary goals (number of kills, number of consecutive kills, etc). You have a main weapon, a secondary weapon, and later on, a companion, a combination of which will determine your level of success in the game. There are also power-ups, in a system that is very reminiscent of in-store purchases (without ever getting there). I liked it: there’s some very clever level-design in the positioning of obstacles and zombies, and there’s definitely more here than some haphazardly thrown together maps. Well done.
Finally, this little game born of a mobile franchise has two high-profile licensed DLCs: Ghostbusters and Night of the Living Dead. There are different criteria to unlocking each one, and they both bring a very interesting twist to the gameplay, while of course, also adding a truckload of nostalgia. Who you gonna call? It’s up to you.
Overall, I really liked what Into the Dead 2 had to offer. The presentation was great, there’s tons of content, the story was surprisingly punchy on an emotional level, and the voice acting in particular delivered the goods. Level design was smart, and the DLC add tons of character. But I just can’t get past the crashes. One of the DLC requires you to reach level 60, which is quite a slog when the game constantly dumps you back to the Switch home screen. If they fix it (and I think they will), this will be one hell of a rail shooter, and a must play for fans of the genre.