"So frightening, you’ll cry blood from your OWN EYES!” “They came for brains. You’ll give them... BULLETS!” No, friends, these aren’t the schlocky taglines from some long-forgotten B-movies, they’re quotes from the trailer for the latest and potentially greatest House of the Dead game - Overkill.
Much to our delight, House of the Dead has received a complete stylistic makeover for Overkill, owing more to the calculated camp of last year’s Tarantino/Rodriguez movie blockbuster Grindhouse than previous games in the series. Yup, Overkill sports all the low-budget gore and cheap camp-o-scripting that B-movie fans love, and we just so happened to be fortunate enough to grab some hands-on time with the game recently.
Though much of the general gameplay of an on-rails arcade shooter remains, Overkill now has its tongue planted firmly through the rotted hole in its undead cheek, care of UK developers Headstrong Games. In fact, we’re rather impressed by their eye for period detail, with Overkill making use of a number of visual filters and effects to get the grindhouse look just right. For one, the game’s color is suitably washed out so as to look like it’s come from a can of film left in the British Board of Film Classification’s ‘banned’ basement for several decades. During our playthrough we even thought we caught an errant projectionist’s hair stuttering along the frame for a second, just like in the good ol’ days of cinema.
And while House of the Dead was never known for the quality of its voice acting, Overkill looks set to use that to its advantage, with actors now delivering hammy, stilted, half-drunk dialogue on purpose, just like the days of yore when B-movie directors were populating their films with amateurs, family members and whatever prostitutes they had on hand just to cut costs. The level was the aptly titled ‘Carnival of Fun’, and providing that your idea of japery includes massacring hundreds of undead former fairground attendees (whose isn’t?), it very much lived up to its name.