Heaven Dust 2

Did y’all ever watch the movie Hatchet? The tagline for that film was “old school American horror,” and it certainly fit that description. Aside from a few modern-ish comedy moments, the movie did an excellent job of emulating ’80s slashers. Similarly, Heaven Dust 2 from One Gruel Studio does its very best to pattern itself after old-school zombie survival horror games, and it absolutely succeeds.

Like retro survival horror classics, Heaven Dust 2 is all about both creating a sense of claustrophobia and providing a scarcity of items for you to use. Ammo and heals aren’t very plentiful — though they are more so on the lowest difficulty setting — so you’ll have to ration everything wisely. There’s nothing more unsettling then seeing as a zombie slowly stumbles toward you, only for you to hear the click of an empty pistol. It’s absolutely terrible in the best way!

Heaven Dust 2 - Switch

Part of the appeal in Heaven Dust 2 comes from the way you navigate its tight world. You’ll have to solve puzzles to trigger switches and unlock doors, all the while worrying about what may or may not pop out and attack you at any given moment. It’s a gameplay design that has withstood the test of time, and Heaven Dust 2 employs it wonderfully. Sure, some puzzles are a little more archaic than others, but overall, the game balances its exploration, puzzle-solving, combat, and zombie survival quite brilliantly.

It’s fun to be able to play a new game that feels like it would be right at home on the PSOne. Best of all, the game is able to provide a proper throwback without feeling dated. And while you could chalk it up to the survival horror genre being fairly timeless, I think it’s best we give credit where it’s due, because One Gruel Studio did a fine job of making everything — from the character movement to the weapon aiming — feel super tight and precise.

Heaven Dust 2 Zombie Survival Horror

Like the movie Hatchet, Heaven Dust 2 also has a little bit of a modern silliness to it, but this is mostly in the chibi character designs. There’s definitely an oddball look to the protagonist, as well as the zombie enemies. Even then, the game is still heavy with proper terror, which is to say it’s able to build tension and dread just like the classic Resident Evil games.

Truthfully, though, aside from the character designs, Heaven Dust 2 is as gritty and dark as they come. The game’s environments play with lighting in such a way that you rarely know what’s around the corner. Even with the fixed isometric camera angles, you’ll still be surprised by zombies lurking in the shadows. Oddly enough, it’s fun to get scared in a game like this, and it’s a lot less psychological than, say, Outlast or Layers of Fear 2, even though you’ll still get a sense of panic and dread at times.

Heaven Dust 2 - Nintendo Switch

The first Heaven Dust was a fairly short game. Well, that’s not an issue here. Heaven Dust 2 will take you seven or eight hours to get through, making for a fun zombie survival experience that’s rich with tension and enjoyable gameplay throughout. There are times when it can be a little too old-school due to a handful of vague puzzles, but these moments are few and far between, and what you get for the majority of this game is a joyful little thrill ride.

The horror genre has evolved over the years. These games are still creepy and awesome, and the best survival horror titles still retain a lot of what the early Resident Evil games introduced and innovated, but things have definitely changed with time. Heaven Dust 2 is a fitting tribute to classic Capcom survival horror. It’s filled with ever-growing suspense, and it’s an exciting, exhilarating, and just plain fun zombie horror experience.

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