After being released on PC last June, Dead or School, developed by Nanafushi study, officially lands on home consoles.
The studio tried to merge the exploratory mechanics typical of a metroidvania with those of any Japanese role-playing game in the title. A interesting experiment for the newborn software house that will want to carve out a space in the videogame panorama at all costs.
We have explored Dead or School far and wide, through the game environments to be able to judge a game with ambitious premises. If you want to know what we think of this metroidvania with RPG elements, you just have to read it our review.
Towards the surface
The title is set in a Post-apocalyptic Tokyo where humans are forced to live in subways. A war, which broke out 78 years before the game began, saw people flee the surface of our planet due to mutants, who have since had undisputed domination of the world.
Few are the survivors, who now live in villages located in the metropolitan stations of the Japanese capital. Every day they have to fight to counter the continuous desire to expand of the mutants, who have reached the underground, hungry for human flesh.
No one, not even the oldest citizens, have more memories of what the surface was like. The color of the sky and the fresh air of the city are narrated only in documents and books.
A girl named Hisako, daughter of the village chief of Shinjuku station, after rescuing two girls from the village, she discovers the existence of the surface. The girl, after discussing her dangerous journey with her grandmother, is given a school uniform and the task of setting up a school in the city of Tokyo.
Following this brief introduction, the journey of the beautiful Hisako begins through the streets of the city's subway in search of a way to reach the surface and defeat the mutants once and for all. A not really original plot, which serves only as a pretext to narrate the journey of our protagonist.
A marriage of genres
Dead or School is primarily a Metroidvania. We will be able to move our protagonist between the various areas of the game map in search of objects and monsters to kill. The first difference, compared to a title of the same genre, is that the game map is immediately revealed to the player.
We feel that this choice is not in keeping with the genre of the game, and it has made us all too often unexciting exploration of the various levels of the game.
The second difference is that they will be marked on the game map all objects and collectibles that we could collect. From the very first minutes of the game, that air of tension and anxiety that should convey a post-apocalyptic title with horror tinges is lost.
Dead or School is a metroidvania that guides the player through the levels by the hand, making it all too easy. Furthermore, in this way it makes those looking for a much more demanding title in terms of exploration and backtracking turn up their noses, the latter essential in a game of this genre.
The possibility, then, of being able to teleport us thanks to gods bright spots positioned in different places on the game map completely cancels the possibility of retracing entire routes backwards in search of treasures or secrets.
Several RPG elements
Dead or School also has RPG mechanics very marked. It will be possible to equip our protagonist with white weapons, rifles or rocket launchers, each with its own damage and rarity. Finding new weapons will be vital to continue the game and defeat stronger and stronger opponents.
Hisako will be able to to level up and improve their characteristics ranging from stamina to vitality. Once you level up, the protagonist will be able to spend a point in the skill tree, thus improving her ability to use weapons.
Each weapon can be improved thanks to the use of both Yen and gears, which can be found in the game world by defeating various enemies. Leveling up our equipment will be essential for the continuation of our protagonist's adventure.
It will be possible to implement swords and rifles with gods bonus, which either improve Hisako's attack or decrease the amount of stamina he uses for each attack.
The weapons can be purchased from the vending machines or found during battles with monsters. Last but not least is the transportable weight. The player will always have to choose their equipment based on the amount of items that the beautiful Hisako can carry.
The customization of your character and the amount of weapons you can equip and try gives one great depth to the title and balance the metroidvania side, all too superficial.
Interesting are the secondary missions, which are entrusted to us by NPCs scattered around the map and ranging from defeating monsters to looking for certain objects. They will reward us with weapons or yen, and they reveal a good way to increase longevity even more, already high, of the title
Sword or firearms?
The strong point of the entire title is the combat system, really hectic and well done. As previously mentioned we will be able to equip three types of weapon, which we can change to our choice during the game by pressing the directional arrows.
Our protagonist will be able to destroy the mutants with Katana or riddle them with shots using the shotgun. Against larger enemies we will have the opportunity to use the rocket launcher in order to defeat them as quickly as possible.
Enemies range from the common zombie-like mutant to giant monsters that will give Hisako a run for its money. We will have to train our protagonist to the best in order to defeat increasingly fearsome enemies. We enjoyed trying the different combinations of weapons made available by the title.
No fight bore us during the match. Every mutant encountered has put to the test our skills to be able to emerge victorious, making us recognize an excellent job by the guys of Studio Nanafushi.
I boss fights are wonderful and the player will have to be able to defeat them by making use of their skills and reflexes.
We have come to the real sore point of the entire title. The technical sector is disastrous, with continuous slowdowns during the most excited phases of the game. The graphics are not up to the level of the platform on which the title is played and are reminiscent of the first titles released for PlayStation 3.
Le character animations, from the protagonist to the enemies, are woody and can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The game environments are all similar to each other and there is too much homogeneity in the mutants. Often we will find the same opponents repeated over the course of the game, only enhanced.
There are no animations during the dialogues, with the characters that will remain motionless, o3D movies that herald the arrival of a boss or main character. Definitely insufficient for a title that, despite its defects, lets itself be played.
Studio Nanafushi should have work more on the technical side of the title. In the future we hope to see a new game that can make up for these serious shortcomings on the part of the software house.
The soundtrack is pressing but as the hours go by it can become repetitive, as the usual 4 music will be looped during combat and exploration.
Dear or School is a mix between metroidvania and RPG half successful. If on the one hand we have an excellent role-playing sector, with the ability to fully customize our character, on the other hand the exploration is very superficial, with the map completely revealed immediately.
Il gameplay is fun it is really well done and allows the player to try different approaches during the game to get the better of the enemies, from the most common ones to the bosses at the end of the level.
Il technical sector of the title is very bad and affects the quality of the game, which settles on medium-low levels. The graphics are reminiscent of a game of the last generation and the animations are almost absent. The game world and enemies are graphically not up to par.
The soundtrack may be boring after the first few hours of play, although it still manages to remain on a good level during gameplay. Dead or School, despite its obvious limitations, still succeeds in its intent: entertain the player.