I have a well-documented obsession with SEGA’s House of the Dead: Overkill in all of its forms. A raunchy reimagining of the iconic light-gun blaster, Overkill took the rocksteady rail-shooter formula of House of the Deads past and washed it in a grainy, 8mm patina, complete with the scratchy-stocked sleaze and excessive exploitation of the garish grindhouse era. The already silly backdrop of the original games, rife with Japanese-flavored leaps of logic, were dialed up to eleven with a furiously foul-mouthed fervor, dropping f-bombs like empty clips as you blasted your way through mobs of malevolent mutants (don’t call them “the z-word,” Agent G warns us) up to the most repulsive ending in video game history, a mashup of Oedipan sensibilities and birth-canal ballistics.
Now, in one of the most pleasant surprises of the year, SEGA has given Overkill the Typing of the Dead makeover. Typing of the Dead was a truly bizarre reworking of the HotD formula, replacing the player’s sidearms with killer keyboards, tasking you with blasting baddies with increasingly difficult phrases in lieu of more traditional firepower. Think of it as Lucio Fulci Teaches Typing, and you’re not too far from the truth. It can provide a stiff challenge at times, especially for those that don’t use the home-row method of typing (I’m typing this review as we speak with a T-Rex clawed two-finger tap that would make my middle school Computer Lab teacher retch), but it proves to be a surprisingly fun educational tool. Well, as educational as a game featuring mutant-infested strip joints can be.
Typing of the Dead: Overkill uses the Playstation 3 “Director’s Cut” of the game as its foundation, so you get the extra-offensive content and levels that version featured, as well as the graphical overhaul that gave that version an aesthetic leg-up over its Wii predecessor. The graphics are beginning to show their wear, but they’re still a fantastic carriage method for the lunacy that permeates the title. There was no slowdown or other glitches on my mid-range system, and the keyboard controls were snappy and responsive, truly key in a game that has you type out a series of phrases to fell your foul foes. As an added bonus, there is a more traditional mouse-based version of HotD:O included for the cost of admission, giving you a break from improving your WPM to spray your screen with ghoulish gray matter.
Typing of the Dead: Overkill is just another version of a game that I’ve played countless times already, but the added benefit of a typing tutor makes it a beautiful blend of Mavis Beacon and malicious murder. It’s certainly a step up over PAWS on the crusty Apple IIgs that I was subjected to in middle school, and has about the same maturity level as I did at that time.
Typing of the Dead: Overkill is available now on Steam.