The House of the Dead: Remake PS4 Review: Does It Control Well?

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The House of the Dead is one of the most iconic arcade shooters, so it’s natural that Sega would choose to remake it out of any of the other titles in its oft-ignored back catalog. Thankfully, Forever Entertainment continues its streak of lovingly produced remakes and doesn’t try to change the tone or action of the beloved schlock-filled zombie shooter.

The House of the Dead: Remake‘s enhanced visuals immediately stick out, as the game starts with a shot-for-shot remake of the arcade’s opening attract screen. While it won’t rival recent Resident Evil games in terms of fidelity, it keeps the original style intact while bolstering it with more detailed models. It would’ve been easy to have gone for a more serious style or an overly detailed look that would lessen its B-movie feel, but thankfully these potential pitfalls are avoided and the game looks great as a result.

Gameplay is simple in The House of the Dead and nothing has changed here. Players move automatically throughout levels and are tasked with saving scientists in order to get bonuses. Blasting specific objects also opens up unlock alternate routes, which makes stages less straightforward. The gameplay successfully balances simplicity and depth, as aiming and shooting is naturally intuitive, yet those who want to make trick shots and save every scientist will be able to as long as they persevere.

The horde mode is one of the biggest additions to Remake and seems designed for cooperative play. It mostly takes the core game and just throws more zombies on-screen, making for an overwhelming experience that isn’t quite as fine-tuned as the original. Unless you’re breezing through the core game on its top difficulty, then this mode is mostly a miss since it is hard just for the sake of it and this poor tuning loses sight of the magic that makes the base game sing.

The controls for a console port of a light gun shooter are always going to be the elephant in the room since they are so fundamental to the experience and the genre as a whole. In recent years, motion controls have become the norm, even if they don’t truly capture the same experience that an actual light gun provides. Currently, the PlayStation 4 version has two disparate control schemes: one that uses the analog stick for aiming and another utilizes the gyroscopic tilt functions of the DualShock or DualSense. And while it is disappointing that it isn’t in at launch, Forever is working on a patch that will add PlayStation Move controller support.

There are pros and cons to the two current control methods, so there’s no easy recommendation that will fit all needs. Using the analog stick makes it play like a modern first-person shooter, and players can even choose to use either the left or right stick to aim. This works quite well, although you’ll never be able to move from one side of the screen to the other as quickly as moving your hand.

Players looking for more freedom and quicker motions will find a lot to like in the motion controls, although they can be just a bit finicky and thus require a lot of cursor resetting, which breaks the flow of gameplay a bit. Ultimately, PlayStation Move support will likely wind up being the best option, which makes even more strange that it wasn’t ready for launch. Switching between them shows the benefits of the two control schemes and both work well enough, but the lack of one clear-cut best option certainly holds it back.

It comes with a few more caveats than Forever Entertainment’s great remake of Panzer Dragoon, but the same amount of effort clearly went into The House of the Dead: Remake. While the lack of an actual light gun makes this a little harder to fully enjoy outside of its original arcade form, the remake looks solid and has been faithfully recreated. The horde mode isn’t the meaningful addition it aims to be, yet there’s still plenty of replayability here and long-time fans will get a trip experiencing it with a more modern layer of paint.

SCORE: 7.5/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.


Disclosure: The critic purchased a PlayStation 4 code for our House of the Dead: Remake review. Reviewed on version 1.0.0.

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