Title: Drop Dead: Dual Strike Edition
Developer: Pixel Toys Ltd.
Publisher: Pixel Toys Ltd.
Genre: Action, Horror, Shooter
Platform: Oculus Quest VR
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 21/05/2019
Price: £10.99 – Rapid Reviews was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Arcade is one genre that VR has been slowly introducing and revising. Over the years, arcade experiences were limited to… well, the arcade. But now, with VR simulating being in a larger space, it has allowed the arcade genre of games to shine again.
One of the most prominent arcade titles of the late ’90s was House of the Dead, an on-rails arcade shooter that had you fight off waves of undead foes while you are moved through fun, fast-paced stages. Drop Dead: Dual Strike Edition feels like a revision of HotD, simulating its core mechanics, but with the introduction of VR, it adds layers that are undeniably central to how the game is experienced. Drop Dead feels like the landmark arcade shooter, and, if that arcade experience is something you’ve missed as gaming has become more home-centric and mainstream, then you’re sure to have a blast in this action-packed, fun and sometimes terrifying zombie shooter.
Drop Dead’s concept is simple. Get dropped into a level where you use the weaponry given to you to fight off a wave of enemies and after every wave, you are moved along in the level to the next point. By introducing DD’s core unique mechanic, dual wielding, players are kept on their toes and encouraged to be creative in how they tackle certain situations. There’s a skill and finesse to how the gunplay works: reloading requires precise timing if you are to take advantage of boosted and quicker action, swapping weapons in a pinch or even determining the right weapon for the right situation, which is key in mastering levels.
Dying is something you will encounter frequently, but once again, a large part of the game is its arcade-centric approach. Master levels, get high scores, even hand your headset off to a friend to try and beat it. Its approach to death, however, becomes slightly monotonous when you are forced to rewatch minute long cutscenes before getting right back into the action – a skip feature would have been appreciated here.
The gameplay varies and mixes things up frequently. From new weapon types to a variety of different zombie types that require different strategies to pit yourself against, each level has its own flavour. However, as I progressed in the game it was clear that some levels just seemed repetitive or stretched for way too long with only very minor story changes. The story is something that I found quite secondary to the game, the voice acting at times was questionable and definitely broke my immersion more than once. The story itself was mediocre and was enough to keep me through most of the game without thinking twice.
Drop Dead: Dual Strike also offers a solo/multiplayer horde mode alongside its campaign, where you are tasked with taking down hordes of enemies within a stationary arena. It’s fun and definitely a good experience to take to parties and let people try out – just don’t expect any more depth in this mode than you would anywhere else in the game.
The tracking and control in Drop Dead was fantastic for the most part. Pulling off chained headshots or throwing axes into the animated corpses was satisfying, and I found the gunplay and ease of control to be the main factor bringing me back. It reminded me of standing there, in the arcade using the flimsy plastic light-guns in Time Crisis and House of the Dead but actually being there, unbounded by the kiosks and displays. Reloading, swapping weapons and the overall haptic response and satisfying controls made Drop Dead hit the bar for immaculate execution and is a game other upcoming gun-based VR arcade experiences should reach for indefinitely.
The setting, graphics and design of the game are simple yet effective. Enemies are placed in positions that carefully allow players to react at key moments, letting the player chain kills together in a smooth and intended fashion. The world and levels of Drop Dead, whilst beautiful, do become repetitive when used over and over again. I found the lack of world interaction quite disappointing though, as the only thing players are able to interact with are the weapons, which, in hindsight, might be for the better in an on-rails shooter. The game runs surprisingly smooth on the Quest, with only very minor hindrances in frame rate or resolution.
The one thing that took a while to properly get my head around was the movement, as the Quest is the ultimate wireless headset, it was still something to get used to when I couldn’t move myself and was bound in very small spaces – this is one of those games where I feel a smaller playing area or being bounded by cable actually might assist the player in feeling more grounded.
For a budget price, Drop Dead: Dual Strike offers a valuable arcade on-rails experience you won’t find of this calibre anywhere else on the Quest’s store. Whilst its story is sub-par, I found the gameplay gripping enough for me to come back to on multiple occasions and the heavy similarity to its legacy arcade roots were its main drawing point. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I was back in my happy place – the arcade.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can buy Drop Dead: Dual Strike Edition here: Oculus Quest Store
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.