22/04/2020

๐Ÿซ๐ŸŽ’ Dead or School | PS4 | REVIEW | "Dead or…workingfromhomeduetothecoronavirus" ๐Ÿซ๐ŸŽ’ #GameDev #IndieGames

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A highly enjoyable, over the top Metroidvania with a heavy focus on action and loot. Whilst Dead or School is affected by some technical issues, the fact that this was made by a three-man development team and is so fun and addictive to play is definitely cause for celebration.
In a post-apocalyptic Tokyo – those pesky zombie-mutants! – What remains of humanity has been driven underground to the subway tunnels. For over seventy years, very few people have ventured towards the surface. One day, a young woman named Hisako decides that enough is enough, she needs some vitamin D and more so, yearns to attend school, a paradise where people play together and learn, a far cry from the miserable and literally sheltered life she has led so far. 
A Metroidvania with a surprisingly accessible setup, Dead or School focuses much more on the action and looting than labyrinthine exploration (although there is some of that too, panic not!) and comes across feeling a little different from the herd because of it, which is a good thing. For example, when you are working your way through the hordes of mutants, the current objective (you will only have a couple on the go at once time, so you don’t get bogged down in the side quests) is always displayed clearly on your mini-map.
This, combined with how each subway station is treated as a separate map in and of itself means that you will always be making process and never looking for some hidden section or item that you’ve missed that completely bars your progress until you find it (I look at YOU Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night), your goal is always visible and getting there is the fun part.
Aside from the odd characters you will meet whilst traversing the subways (most of which share the same character visual) and later on, the streets of Tokyo, the bulk of the game is taken up by weighty, meaty combat. This is one of the games’ real strengths in that the balance feels completely spot-on and the levelling up system feels genuinely satisfying and has a marked difference in gameplay.

You have three weapon slots, a melee weapon (sword, axe etc.); a ranged weapon (usually a shotgun or machine gun of some sort) and a heavy, ranged weapon (clearly a massive rocket launcher) and whilst the game does level you up as a character, the weapons have no level caps themselves which means that you can just load up with goodies as you pick them up (and there are a lot of choices here) but you do have a weight limit which raises with your level and so in order to carry that saucy sword imbued with the ability to give health on an enemy death, you may have to sacrifice that awesome machine gun that makes you invincible during the reloading animation, as it makes your loadout too heavy.
It’s the choices such as this that give real depth to the combat in the game. On more than one occasion I hacked and shot my way through a section to come to a huge boss which I had no heavy weapon for and my melee weapon had degraded through use…so I’m back to that shoddy machine gun from ages ago - that I’ve kept purely because it weighs less  - in a one-on-one fight with a twenty-foot monster made out of solid steel…..yay.
It’s not all fun and games, though. The budgetary constraints do come across in the visuals, whilst the character portraits and frame rate are mostly solid, the main game always felt a bit too zoomed-out or slightly blurred to completely relax with and some details were lost (it called to mind a 3DS port that had been upgraded). This is a minor quibble, though because the heart of the game isn’t about top-notch visuals; it’s about the weight of the combat and the fun factor. This game has that in spades.
Dead or School is a really interesting and enjoyable game. The narrative is surprisingly taught and the game doesn’t feature too much gratuitous cleavage or endless dialogue. The fact that a three-man development team created this out of love over a period of years really shows through in how enjoyable the game is. If you are a fan of the Metroidvania genre, this should definitely be in your collection. Just expect a few rough edges every now and again.
Best lines from the game? 
“Tell us more about the surface before the war, Grandma”
“Ok…but first, put this on”
“What is this?”
“…It’s a school uniform”

#ofcourseitis
❄️ RATING: MELTING ❄️

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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