Dead or School – Review
Follow Genre: Hack and Slash, Metroidvania
Developer: Studio Nanafushi
Publisher: Marvelous, Studio Nanafushi
Platform: PC, PS4
Tested on: PS4

Dead or School – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Design, Concept
Bad: Lack of voice acting, Odd story choice
User Score
9.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Dead or School is a Metroidvania title that was released back in June 2019 for Steam. The game has had a very successful run so far, even with a fairly unknown indie studio at the helm of the game’s production and publishing. The title features many lovely ladies in the spotlight, and mainly your busty character who’s out to kill mutants, hoping to reclaim the surface world. Dead or School has now been picked up by Marvelous for a PlayStation 4 release. We were lucky enough to dive into the underworld where Hisako will chop, shoot and blow up mutants to bits.

Story

The story of Dead or School is peculiar, to say the least. You’ll be playing as Hisako, daughter of the village chief, of one of the last bastions of humankind, who lives underground. Around 80 years ago, the last war was fought against an ever-increasing swarm of mutants. The humans lost and were forced to live underground. Now, the third generation of those who live underground is fed up with living in the darkness and want to see the sky once more. Hisako found herself a personal goal, namely going to school. She wants to be educated and wants to offer the same experience to all of those her age.

This plot is quite special and it creates a very unique driving point for a game such as this. You’ll have to browse through many dialogues, which often don’t make that much sense, but some add some humor to the story, while others give you more information on what is going on.

Graphics

Dead or School looks quite good, especially considering the production budget of a fairly small studio. The game is presented from a 2D point of view, with a Metroidvania format. You’ll roam around different rooms that are interconnected, allowing you to go to multiple directions from one room to another. The character models look quite decently done, and the enemy models, which can get repetitive, are also in sync with the game’s topic. A few of the survivors you come across always use the same dialogue picture, which feels a bit lazy at times.

The effects and the limited attacks are also properly handled, but the game doesn’t have such a diverse special effects palette. The game is fairly basic, and sometimes still rough around the edges, but the zoomed-out point of view allows for more leeway.

Sound

The sound design of the game is top-notch. You’ll have a rather heavy soundtrack playing in the background, which goes hand in hand with the action that is happening onscreen. The game could have used a bit more voice acting though, as it has many dialogues, and nearly all of them are completely mute. It would have helped with the immersion more, considering the overall story is a bit silly.

Gameplay

Dead or School is a 2D hack and slash, platforming Metroidvania experience. In the game, you’ll use your train to go from one underground station to another, to clear out the mutants and hopefully find a big enough group of survivors to fight the mutants that live on the surface world. You’ll find new weapons as you go, while unlocking new skills and getting better stats for Hisako. The game’s offset is quite simple, as you’re not required to learn a lot of hard button combos in order to progress and beat your foes.

The combat in Dead or School is quite simple. You either use your sword attacks, a rifle or a rocket launcher to dispose of the hordes of mutants coming at you. You can switch on the fly, but each of your weapons either has ammo or durability. When these run out, you’ll have to hit up a save point in order to replenish said points. This means that you’ll frequently have to visit these points to be able to carry on. Keep in mind though, as visiting such a point will also respawn all the enemies.

There’s a leveling system present in the game, allowing you to invest skills in either your sword powers, your rifle skills or upgrading your explosive capacities. To unlock better skills you’ll have to invest in the lower-ranked skills first. You’ll also be able to upgrade weapons you find and add attachments to them. Upgrading just increases the power, while adding attachments can have a variety of different effects, ranging from passive boosts to active skills.

You’ll notice that the maps get bigger and more complex as you go, forcing you to go from one point to another, multiple times, to solve puzzles, or to reset an area when you mess up said puzzle. The game has a fairly good overview system, marking where you have been and which spots you still have to visit. This makes the entire Metroidvania formula quite manageable. The map system also invites you to explore and save different hostages, which isn’t a requirement for the main story.

Conclusion

Dead or School is an interesting take on the Metroidvania genre and has you roaming around different stations for hours on end. The game might be fairly simplistic in its skill and item system, it does have engaging gameplay, and the story is so awkward and quirky that you want to press on and see what’s around the next few corners. If you’re into 2D hack and slash games, then you can’t really go wrong with this game. If you also happen to like busty ladies thrown at you occasionally, you’ll have a blast with this one.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Dead or School - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
Ibuki
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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