The first Dead Rising [official site] has just arrived on Steam. I installed it and played it for five minutes just to make sure it didn’t make my computer bleed or crumble into dust, and so far so good. The reception seems positive, in terms of performance, and this looks like it might be a solid remaster of the 2006 original.
Although I’ve barely touched it since the year it came out, here’s why I’m extremely glad this ridiculous game is on PC, and why I’m looking forward to playing it again: it’s as weird and experimental as any big budget game that has ever waved a horde of zombies in your face.
Dead Rising (given that God of War and Gears of War are both featuring dads this time around, my habit of mistyping it as Dad Rising is maybe prophetic) is the game with the time limits that only lets you save in safe places (toilets are where journo-hero Frank West feels safest). It’s built on the idea that events will happen and people will die whether you happen to be present at the time. What that means is that as well as being an incredibly silly game, which lets you dress as a clown and fire a nerf gun at zombies, Dead Rising is a Dawn of the Dead simulation.
Set in a shopping mall, featuring shambling Romero hordes rather than sprinting reboot zombies, it’s a weird hybrid of actual survival sim and zany arcade game. That it runs with both of those concepts as fast as a furious 28 Days Later not-zombie somehow works. It’s an incredible achievement – a game as ludicrous as Saints Row but fully intent on carrying out all of its pratfalls and pranks in a systemically driven environment, where the clock is ticking and failure is always a possibility.
The sequels never managed to balance the ingredients quite as well and missed having a protagonist as quotable as old Frank “Zombies, huh?” West. I’m hoping that age has been kind to Dead Rising and while the updates are certainly welcome (support up to 4k resolution, rebindable keyboard and mouse settings, uncapped frame rate and wider controller support), it’s the boldness of the design that I’m banking on to keep the whole thing interesting a decade later. We’ll be taking a closer look soon.
Dead Rising is £15.99/19,99€/$19.99 on Steam.