I do like a game that takes me out of my comfort zone. Dead or School certainly does that. My initial thoughts on the game were ones of trepidation.
I’ve played enough games in the past that come out of Japan, which can look from the outside as wanting to provide nothing but pure titillation. Yet when you look deeper you find that despite the theme, there is a solid game with good mechanics.
Dead or School is another such game. Based around a zombie outbreak the action takes place in a post-apocolyptic Tokyo. The protaganist of the piece, young Hisako is enamoured with stories of what life was like above ground.
She braves the dangers to try and reclaim the city and bring it back to the former glories, from the stories her grandmother told her.
To be brutally honest, I found the story pretty bland as it ticked the boxes of many tropes. It is by no means terrible and it does do enough of a job to provide a frame to the gameplay.
Away from that, the thing that interested me most about the game, was said gameplay. Dead or School is a 2.5D action, hack and slash, metroidvania, with RPG elements. Which looks so much fun to play.
The action though doesn’t quite live up to the excitement you see from trailers. It isn’t bad, it is just fine. But that’s it. Fine. Just not matching up with the well produced visuals and animations.
It is hard to put a finger on why this exactly is, because Dead or School seems to tick all the right boxes. Enemies are varied enough and Hisako controls well and has a decent move-set.
The exploration is pretty good too and you are encouraged to do just that and explore. Bosses feel like events, with some being gigantic and taking nigh on the entire screen.
There is a lot of customisation and upgrades to weapons that also encourage you to try out new things. An impressive collection of melee and ranged weapons which do wonders for varying your play style.
The RPG parts feel deep for an action game like this, but not too deep that it becomes inaccessible for all but the hardcore fans.
Even as I write all of this, it feels like I should be shouting from the rooftops about Dead or School. However at times it left me feeling cold. No, that’s wrong, not cold, but just not overly enamoured with it.
Even the initial fears that this was going to be a full fan-service style game are quickly calmed. So it wasn’t even that. I just couldn’t connect with it in the way I had hoped.
This is one of those occasions where I am glad I don’t score games, because I haven’t a clue what I would give this. It isn’t a bad game, but it isn’t great. It isn’t average, but it doesn’t veer below or above either.
If you got this, you wouldn’t be disappointed by it and you’d find value in what you play. But you won’t be missing out if this one passes you by.