Into the Dead 2
Developed By: PikPok
Published By: Versus Evil
Category: Endless Runner
Release Date: 10.25.2019
Into the Dead 2 is an action-packed endless runner that has you trying your best to survive as you sprint through hordes of zombies with nothing to protect you but a vast arsenal of weapons as well as a fighting animal companion from savage dogs to tiger and bears. How will you ever survive? With 25 upgradeable weapons from 8 different classes and 8 separate companions to choose from, it is time to suit up and get ready to mow down some zombie scum.
You enter a world that seems to already be inhabited by zombies, with precautions and measures already being taken. You are driving a semi-truck loaded with supplies, when you get into an accident and flip the vehicle. You crawl out, and realize you are a long way from home, so you start running. Zombies are everywhere and you call out on your radio to get in touch with your sister who is watching you daughter. They get to your father’s place, and so you know what your destination is. Running from level to level you are making your way there so you can be reunited with your family, and more importantly, protect your daughter. For being a simple endless runner, it was nice to have a pretty fully-fledged story that you could get behind. Most of the zombie tropes you have experienced are present here as well, so there wasn’t much to surprise you with, but all in all it was a decent story. The writing isn’t perfect, and the voice acting leaves something to be desired, but not a huge issue in a game focusing on action.
Although not really advertised as such, the game is an endless runner. You start each level running in a straight line, with the ability to sway left and right a bit to avoid zombies and grab ammo drops, but at the end of the day that is the gameplay loop. Luckily, it offers a lot of other systems and the story mentioned above, so it is one of the better endless runner packages I have ever seen.
Each level has an objective system that gives you stars for each thing completed. From surviving the run, to killing a certain number of zombies, and lots of specific zombie killing objectives around using certain weapons in certain ways, but nonetheless you want to earn as many stars as possible. The stars are important because they unlock new guns for you to use, as well as earn you gold that is used to upgrade your current weapon loadout. I appreciate the way they allow you to slowly unlock guns and gain gold, but overall the progression of this system is slower than I would have hoped. Just playing the game, and not making multiple runs to try to nail down five stars on each level, I was still working with the initial two weapons you start with through most of the second chapter. The game has seven chapters in the story, so you really are meant to grind to unlock weapons, unfortunately.
Gaining the weapons allows for some breaks from the pretty monotonous loop as you get deeper and deeper in the story, but regardless you are still doing the same things through most of the game. Only real difference is more, tougher zombies in the later stages. The grind doesn’t really feel worth it when it comes to trying to get those new weapons but having a full arsenal at the end of the day is nice. Upgrading your weapons, however, is a really weird system. You have to spend gold, which you must also grind for, as well as have used the gun enough to gain experience points with that specific weapon. Once you do both of those things, you earn a small bump in one of a few categories at random, not your choice. None of these systems allow you to feel like your time was well spent, so running through the story and calling it a day is really the only way to not have a wasteful grind. With this being a fairly expensive title for what it is, along with a retail release that is more expensive, you really want to get your moneys worth, and this one feels like it falls a bit short in that department.
At the end of each successful level you get to collect loot of three types: boosts, gold, or grenades. Grenades are used in your runs as a side item and can take out large groups of enemies. Three are allowed per run, with a max of 50 allowed in your total inventory, so having a good supply available for a rainy day is super helpful. Boosts are an item I found to be pretty useless. They are one-use weapon upgrades that help you with things like reload speed and initial ammo amount for one single level. They can be useful to a small extent in tougher stages, but I found the most use for them is during your grind to get an advantage when going for a certain star objective. At the end of the day, I mostly went for having a good number of grenades, and then grabbing gold wherever possible to lessen the grind, even slightly.
Beyond the standard story mode, with 60 levels, you also have side stories that add an additional 36, and an arcade mode that lets you go for high scores with certain weapons. All in all, when levels are completed very quickly, this is a short overall experience when played through a single time. As I have mentioned, they really encourage you to grind for your guns and upgrades, so if that is something that sounds like a fun time when paired with this loop, then you may feel like you have a lot to do, but otherwise this may be a slog.
Graphics are decent, with something comparable to 360/PS3 generation looks, but with such short levels and a lacking experience overall it would have been nice to have something that looked a little more impressive. Not something major that should influence one way or another, and the performance is perfect, but something that I was bummed about.
Overall, Into the Dead 2 is a really amazing endless runner, that asks a little bit too much for the experience offered. The game is fun for a while, and is good for jump-in, jump-out experiences offered by the Switch, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed. Especially when the marketing and store page make no mention of the fact this is an endless runner. I initially thought this seemed like a Left 4 Dead style experience, but quickly discovered it wasn’t even close, and feels a little bit like false advertising. If you like endless runners, or are looking for a short, action-packed zombie experience, then this game will fulfill that need, but I think most will come away thinking this was going to be a different game.
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*The Switch Effect was provided a code for this game*