Zombie FPS On the DS, Nice!
The idea behind Touch the Dead is very straight-forward: kill and don’t be killed. You will always have your trusty pistol, with infinite ammo, and you will also find a crowbar, shotgun, and machine gun. Since you don’t have to worry about controlling your characters movement (it’s all scripted, just like most light gun games) the only thing you have to worry about is keeping a sharp eye about for danger and for shootable crates and pickups that give you health and ammo. Ammo is only a concern for your shotgun and machine gun, but if you play with some caution, and use them fairly conservatively in favor of the infinite pistol, ammo likely won’t ever be an issue. The crowbar, on the other hand, is more of a gimmick than anything; you control it by sliding the stylus across the touch screen, but it isn’t really powerful enough to get the job done, not to mention you have to be right next to a zombie to hit them.
You can hit zombies in the head, torso, arms, and legs, and they will react accordingly. Blast their legs off, and they fall and die; they actually do not crawl towards you like most zombies would. Head shots are naturally the best way to go, and they aren’t too difficult to hit consistently thanks to the good accuracy of the stylus on the touch screen. The shotgun is great for blowing large gaping holes into zombies’ abdomen, but it felt a little underpowered still.
Touch the Dead involves about as much shooting as reloading. To reload, you must position your stylus in the bottom right of the screen, push and hold down on the ammo icon, and slide it over to the lower left the screen. This works pretty well, and it becomes second nature in no time. Still, missing the ammo icon on the right and delaying your reloading for just another split second can make all the difference in this game because a lot of times there are enough zombies right in front of you or coming at you quickly that you will take damage. Taking damage is a constant concern because there isn’t really a lot of health in the game and more importantly, should you die, you have to restart that stage of the chapter over again, which could set you back ten or fifteen minutes. What’s worse is that even after a chapter, of which there are only four, you won’t get a fresh allotment of health. You carry over the same a mount of health as you had in the previous chapter which adds significantly to the level of difficulty in the game. You might get well into the game only to realize that you didn’t finish the previous stage with enough health to feasible pass the next area, or at least not without a fair bit of trial and error. There are no continues or second lives, which means you could be restarting this game a few times over if you aren’t careful. Fortunately the zombies will always appear in the same areas as do the ammo and health pickups.
What You See And Hear
Graphics quality isn’t anything to write home about, but it gets the job done. Very plain environments with low resolution textures are about all you will see. There isn’t a lot of fancy animations or anything like that, it’s really a very plain looking game, and very pixilated too especially during the brief in game cutscenes. The variety of zombies was also disappointing; there are essentially two different types (thick and thin), donning a few different costumes including security and medical uniforms. The bosses in the game look refreshingly different, however, but like the rest of the game they too are not very detailed or good looking.
On the other hand, the audio in Touch the Dead stands out a bit. What little of a soundtrack there is works well; it’s quiet, ambient music for the most part, but picks up dramatically during boss fights. The effects in the game, of which there really aren’t that many of, sound good, like the sound of reloading and gun fire and some of the noise the zombies make.
A multiplayer component is included that allows for two player co-op, but I was not able to test this at the time of review. I haven’t heard a lot good about it, but I think it would make this game more enjoyable. Even as it stands and as frustrating as it can be from time to time with the strict save and health system, Touch the Dead is actually a really fun pick-up-and-play game. That said, one interesting point in the co-op play I have heard about is that both players see the same view; so whereas in the single player mode the player has, at times, the ability to choose a path, you can still only take on path in co-op play. This is unfortunate, but most people are probably playing co-op to alleviate the difficulty so forcing the players to stay together makes sense.