Can a mobile port pull its weight in the crowded Switch catalog?
I requested a review key for Into the Dead II for Switch without ever playing the first Into the Dead. I was not at all familiar with the series. But Versus Evil is a competent publisher with a great catalog, and the game itself looked like a stock-standard first-person shooter against zombie hordes, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. Sounded like a winner.
But Into the Dead II for Switch is different. It’s… (gasp) a mobile game! Are you still with me? Okay good. Because while the stigma against mobile gaming is mostly warranted, Into the Dead is actually pretty good with more than 10 million downloads, and with 4.4 stars from 335 thousand reviews. So yeah. Apparently really popular, but I don’t play mobile games much, so yeah.
Anyway, Into the Dead II for Switch will cost you about $35 as of launch. Seems like a pretty penny for a port of a free mobile game, but again: Versus Evil is a competent publisher, and usually have their stuff together. So let’s take an objective look at Into the Dead II, not as a mobile port, but on the strength of its own merit.
Into the Dead II for Switch – Let’s check it out.
So technically Into the Dead II is a first-person shooter. But instead of freely controlling the character’s movement, players simply steer the character to the left or right as he runs forward at a constant pace. If I’d realized that before I requested the key, I might not have. Doesn’t sound like something I’d be into. But, I was surprised at how well the play style actually works.
While the limited-mobility feels a bit restrictive if you’re expecting a classic FPS, it becomes interesting once you’re used to it. It’s not bad. It plays more like a shoot-em-up than a typical FPS, and there is a significant amount of ground to be covered in the maps.
And once your mind is freed of the standard FPS tropes and gameplay style, you can really start to enjoy the unique mechanics made possible by Into the Dead’s constant running.
For example, there are ammo supplies all over the map, with a smoke flare to indicate their location from afar. You have to spot them at a distance and begin moving in the correct direction to position yourself for the pick-up. Those ammo boxes are crucial to completing the levels as supplies are extremely limited.
Likewise there are some bonus weapon items and achievement items scattered throughout the level. Some levels have a chainsaw or a weed-whacker bonus weapon that allows you to melt through the zombie hordes in messy and satisfying fashion.
Most of the gameplay consists of picking the best path through the crowd of zombies, either by skillful dodging or by blasting your way through. Runs get longer and longer as you progress through the game. The corner of the screen has a countdown meter to show you how much longer you must run. Use it to help budget your extremely-limited ammo. The delicate balance between your remaining ammo (and clip size and reload time), and your remaining distance, creates a survival tension that is pretty fun.
Add to that all the achievements available on each mission, and the equipment rewards that become available, and you find yourself really trying to make the most of every bullet, every grenade, and every ounce of fuel in that chainsaw.
In between each level, the protagonist has a short radio conversation with his sister, who has escaped the zombie infestation with his daughter; her niece.
Drama unfolds between the conversations and the protagonist must listen helplessly to the terrible happenings on the other end of his radio. What happens to his family is his motivation to keep running Into the Dead to be reunited with them.
The voice acting is quite good, and the story is at least somewhat interesting. It certainly doesn’t break any new ground in the zombie genre, but the story also isn’t invasive. It doesn’t force itself on you. You can skip the cut-scenes if you want to. The real star of Into the Dead II is the running sequences, and they are definitely fun and highly replayable.
So the real question is: Does Into the Dead II for Switch justify its $35 price tag? Maybe. This game has been so skillfully ported to the Switch, the only indicators that it was ever a mobile game are the nature of the constant-running mechanic itself, and the drip-drip-drip of gold and boost items.
The boost items can be earned after each successful run, and they are only good for one run. They do things like increase the amount of ammo for a specific weapon you find in a level, decrease reload time, increase starting ammo, unlock incendiary ammo. That kind of stuff. They can be a real lifesaver. But like many gamers, the idea of unlockable single-use consumables is kind of blah.
Other than that, the graphics, gameplay, quality, and replayability of Into the Dead II make it worth checking out. And with the new Ghostbusters and Night of the Living Dead DLC, it looks like the game will have even more variety and ways to play. Who knows what they’ll come out with next. And—oh yeah—I forget that $35 is actually really cheap for a Switch game. So yes. Totally worth it.