The Typing of the Dead: Overkill Review

They're not zombies, they're mutants!

2 November 2013
Played on Windows

I generally try to praise originality. We game within an industry obsessed with yearly sequels and minor iterations; the continued flogging of a long-dead horse. Plus, we all type, probably a considerable amount, so it ought to be fun to have an external factor measuring our ability, right?

TL;DR

Easy to pick up and play. Runs on anything. Will seriously test your typing skills, but contains a bunch of fun mechanics. Ridiculous humour present throughout.

The Good

  • Great sense of humour
  • Lots of word themes and missions
  • Play on anything with a keyboard

The Bad

  • Some harsh disparity in random word difficulty
  • Boss mechanics can be obtuse
  • Not a hugely involved game

It certainly doesn’t hurt that Typing oozes charm. It riffs on every zombie movie trope, both willingly and forcefully, to great effect. The story mode’s two main characters, the black cop and the white cop, are so stereotypical that I’m sure some political correctness stiffs somewhere will already have complained, but you know it’s over the top, and it’s genuinely funny when the game doesn’t try to take itself too seriously.

The story is split into a set of ‘acts’ which can be played independently of one another, and each ‘act’ consists of fighting through a level and finishing with a boss fight. The main fighting mechanic is words appearing next to zombies as they rush towards you, and unless you type the word correctly before the zombie reaches you, it will incur you damage. The game is entirely on rails, so you never choose your path or need to aim manually. This is all taken care of for you, so the focus is on typing, as it should be.

The clever part is that the game plays with this theme to great effect. When faced with three zombies, you can legitimately start typing any word, but you’re better off starting with the zombie nearest to you. Some zombies throw projectiles at you as well, which can be dismissed or deflected simply by typing one letter on the keyboard, but since this can’t be done in the middle of typing a zombie-defeating word, you need to pick your moments, diverting your attention to the projectiles as soon as possible, because you have far less time to react to these. The boss fights are where the variety really comes into play, and each boss has its own distinct style. While none of the bosses, or enemies in general, stray too far from the idea that you need to type words quickly in order to win, the action is sufficiently varied to remain engaging. The main story won’t take more than a few hours to play through, but there are three difficulty levels, and a toggle for ‘hardcore’ mode, plus a set of mini games to play through, so there is plenty to do.

Screenshot from The Typing of the Dead: Overkill
Screenshot from The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

Boss concerns

One particular concern is the final boss in the game. A well-designed game will slowly introduce its full range of mechanics throughout the play session, starting simple and then gradually becoming more and more elaborate. While Typing does just that, it seems to fall on its sword at the final boss, where a completely new mechanic is introduced with absolutely no warning, and suddenly the game is no longer about being able to type fast and accurately, and becomes a frantic guessing game. In the context of the game as a whole, the final boss blunder is forgiveable, but disappointing nonetheless.

I particularly like the Steam integration that allows you to compare your scores on various levels with your friends, or the rest of Steam in general, to see how much room for improvement you have on each stage.

Jasper character screen from The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

Conclusion

Since the words are decided randomly on each play through (although they stick to a certain theme, such as using criminal-related words in the prison stage), it can mean that on certain plays you might get unfairly shafted by a particularly nasty selection of words, and there were even words that were spelled wrong in the version I played. If these were genuine mistakes then fair enough, but if they have been deliberately misspelled to ‘catch players out’ then that too seems a bit unfair. Overall, these are minor gripes at what is a genuinely fun and different game. There’s very little else like this out there, and while it won’t keep ‘core’ gamers entertained for weeks on end, it has enough substance to provide a stiff challenge and enough charm about it to put a smile on your face at the same time. It’s hard to see how this could be justified as a ‘real’ educational tool to improve one’s typing; I feel that the subject matter and presentation are just a little too frantic for any real learning to take place, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to approach this game unfamiliar with a keyboard. I also feel that the base price of £15, while not huge, is a little over the odds for what it is. The game is definitely a sideshow rather than a main attraction, albeit an excellent one, and I feel it would do better in the sub-£10 bracket, meaning that a lot of people might wait for the sale and an almost irresistible price before dipping in.

Overall, a very well thought out and well put together game that manages to stay fun, hilarious and completely refreshing during its fairly short play time. Hard to recommend at its full price but absolutely unmissable if discounted.