House of the Dead Remake attempts to bring light gun games back to life

Can the House of the Dead Remake revive light gun games?

The halcyon days of the light gun game are definitely over, but that hasn't stopped Megapixel Studio from trying to inject a bit of new life into the genre. Joy-Cons may not be a match for real light guns, but Sega's House of the Dead is still a jolly good time.

Returning to Curien: Nothing has changed in terms of story and setting: You're trapped in a mansion crawling with the walking dead and the results of less than ethical experiments, and you would like to get out of there. You navigate a branching path through the mansion, with your route determined by what you shoot.

Key art from HOTD: Remake

  • The big differentiator is difficulty options, ranging from easy to arcade levels of challenge. There is also a horde mode that adds more monsters, and various options to customize the experience further
  • There are plenty of unlockables like new weapons and an avalanche of achievements, but you need to save every scientist you meet to expand your arsenal

Ham and Cheese: The original House of the Dead was notable for its cheesy storytelling and eminently wooden and stiff acting, and the remake does its very best to keep it camp.

  • The style is both fitting and jarring since the remake is missing the grungy, low-tech aesthetic of the original. The developers' love of the source material, fortunately, shines through and gives the game a charmingly goofy earnestness

Controls, Joy-Con Be Thy Name: Blasting zombies is basically a recipe for fun, but the Joy-Con motion controls aren't exactly perfect.

  • Even the performance mode can offer up choppy frame rates, and aiming remains awkward even though there is a wide range of controller setups and aim assist modes
  • Gyroscopic aiming is fun, but it simply can not replicate the feeling of using a real light gun. The implementation is competent, but it's simply not as fun as holding a gun, or as precise as mouse input.

House of the Dead Remake can't quite summon up that smoky, noisy arcade feeling but it's not for lack of trying. It's still a fun game and the shlocky gunplay is still engaging, but nothing can replace the heft and tactility of a grubby plastic gun wired to a beat-up arcade cabinet.