Voyage of the Dead adequately delivers another zombie rail shooter but is elevated slightly by entertaining mini games and 4 player local co-op.
Voyage of the Dead is first-person rail shooter unquestionably inspired by the House of the Dead series which found much love on the Nintendo Wii. Although the humor isn't as well-executed and the combat isn't quite as smooth as other games in the zombie rail shooting genre, Voyage of the Dead offers an adequate story mode and a variety of mini games which leads to a fun but occasionally frustrating experience.
One of the biggest problems with Voyage of the Dead is the game's on-screen reticle, which is a normal 007 Goldeneye-esque target circle during the main menu and mission select screens but then inexplicably changes into a glowing dot once the gameplay begins. This glowing dot quickly becomes indistinguishable from the environment during the intense shoot-outs which make up for a majority of Voyage of the Dead's gameplay, especially when playing in multiplayer mode. This can be changed in the settings menu but the other cross-hair option is equally indistinguishable thanks to its too-thin border.
The main story mode in Voyage of the Dead can be played with up to four players in local co-op and sees players taking on the roles of stereotypical characters such as Arsonists or Fisherman during a quickly-escalating zombie attack aboard a cruise ship. Each character has a special alternate weapon (flamethrower for the Arsonist, harpoon gun for the Fisherman) in addition to their starting pistol, and other weapons, ammo, and power-ups can be obtained by shooting them once their glowing icons appear in the zombie-filled background. The experience of playing with friends is marred slightly by the game's audio decisions, which see the on-screen characters repeating the same catchphrases over and over again with an almost metronome-like frequency every few seconds. In single-player modes this problem is noticeable but not irritating enough to warrant fixing, but when more than two players are attempting to shoot zombies together it can send everyone clamoring to the sound menu to try and figure out how to mute character quips.
Thankfully, much like the other MARS Lightcon game Qubit's Quest, Voyage of the Dead offers a multitude of mini games alongside the game's story mode to keep players entertained. In addition to the prerequisite horde mode which sees players testing their skills against an ever-growing number of zombies, there is also a skeet shooting mini game called "Crash Site," a helicopter-chaingun shark attack prevention mode, and a rather addictive version of pinball. These mini games can be quite fun, especially when played with a group of friends, and greatly help to extend the title's enjoyment long past where it would end if the game just contained the normal campaign.
The problems found in other MARS Lightcon titles persist here. While relatively quick and easy to set up, the TV-facing MARS camera seems to offer a slight lag between movements, making it seem as if the player's reticle indicator is always just a half-second behind where the player is pointing. During slower sections of gameplay this is not a problem, but when dozens of zombies are piling around the screen it makes for a frustrating experience of trying to line up head shots quickly with a stuttering aim, especially when coupled with the previously mentioned glowing dot issue. Also, as with the introduction of any new control method, the menu feels slightly cumbersome to navigate via the MARS Lightcon's buttons, especially when the gun's power button is unintuitively used as a pause key.
Voyage of the Dead is not the most engrossing experience, but it is both adequately made and filled with enough extra content that most players will find something about it to enjoy, at least until the next House of the Dead game comes out. While nothing special, it efficiently delivers another zombie rail shooter experience and elevates it slightly with entertaining mini games. If only those characters would just shut up and shoot.
Voyage of the Dead is out now for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. A PS4 code was provided to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.