Mobile ports on the Nintendo Switch is a common practice at the moment, many developers make the transition and bump up the resolution, add a few additional features, or simply keep them as a 1:1 copy for use with the Joycons or touchscreen. Developer Pik Pok and publisher Versus Evil have taken the highly successful mobile game, Into the Dead 2, and delivered a much more consumer-friendly version of the game, whilst also making progression much easier and quicker.
Whereas the original mobile game of the same name cost the grand total of Nothing, in order to download and play, I firmly believe that this ‘premium’ edition of the game is by far the best way to experience this addictive and challenging game. I’ve completed the game on Switch and played a number of hours on my iPad just so I had a fair comparison between the two, so let’s see why this game took over all of my free time recently…
The first thing I thought of when I saw the logo for Into the Dead 2 was The Walking Dead, there’s a similarity which you can’t deny and was most likely done purposely to feed on the success of the popular comics, video games, and TV show. However, this game has little to do with that franchise outside of the fact you’re running around killing zombies as they try to viciously rip out your guts and eat them in front of you as you black out (yes, that is a thing in this game).
Spread over 60 levels (yes, sixty), you’re on a journey to make your way through the zombie apocalypse and rescue your family, communicating with various people when you reach your goal in each area and also teaming up with othre colleagues as you progress. The story is a little generic and is essentially a narrative we’ve heard many times before, however, it sets up the current and next ‘mission’ with a bit of exposition and purpose as the gameplay is essentially the same on each and every level moving forward.
Surprisingly, the game even offers multiple endings. On my first playthrough, I got the bad ending, which was upsetting but expected, if I’m being honest. However, you can then jump back into previous levels in order to bump up your ‘stars’ and aim for the better endings – offering a lot of replayability and further adding to the playtime you’ll get out of this rather addictive and fun game. Once you’ve finished with the main game, there’s a plethora of extra missions, side-stories, DLC (which is free with the physical edition) and more, which I’ll go through below.
Despite the game being free on mobiles, please read on to see why this version is the only version you should be playing if you own a Nintendo Switch…
Have you ever wondered what it’ll be like if you combined an endless runner, like Temple Run, with a franchise such as The Walking Dead? No? Well, imagine it now… Welcome to Into the Dead 2.
The game itself was originally a mobile and tablet game, so controls are about as simple as you could ever imagine. Your character constantly moves forward, a bit like Forest Gump when he couldn’t stop running, but you have control over them strafing left or right as you progress onwards. The goal is to ultimately reach the end of the mission in one piece, which is easier said than done in my opinion. Interestingly, even though the game is similar to endless runners, each level is pre-made and has a set ending point such as a building or field, with a distance counter in the top corner always advising you how far away you are.
Before each level, you can opt to take in two weapons of choice and a companion, if you’ve unlocked any. The weapons can be upgraded over time, for a price, and you can equip various boosts and enhancements should you own any. Although the choice of weapons is totally up to you (in most instances), you do have five challenges per-level which can vary from simply completing the run alive to killing a certain number of zombies with a particular weapon class, thus pushing you to experiment and try out other guns.
Into the Dead 2 is much more strategic and brutal than you may initially perceive though, due to the limited bullets you have within each level. For example, if you start a run with a shotgun and a pistol, you may only have three shotgun shells and six pistol rounds. Obviously, completing a 2,000ft run with only that would be impossible, unless you were an all-star American Football player and able to dodge the zombies, so ammo crates are scattered throughout which you can run over and collect. However, these also only give you a few rounds per pickup. Every bullet counts so it’s up to you to prioritise on the fly which zombies are most deserving of a bullet to the face.
As I stated above, you can choose which weapons you wish to take into any of the levels with you (bar a few) so I’m happy to say that the choice of weapons is quite big. There are a total of 29 guns from the subcategories of Pistol, Shotgun, SMG, Assault Rifle, Rifle, Special and Bow – not including the amazing Proton packs from the Ghostbusters DLC. The majority of the weapons will become purchasable with in-game credits as you progress through the story but some are locked behind obtaining a certain number of stars in the main game or completing some Side Stories. Unlike the mobile game, you don’t have to find ‘parts’ in order to make a weapon, simply buy it and it’s yours.
Each weapon can also be upgraded up to five times, again with in-game credits, in order to further enhance the power, firing rate, and reload speed. I personally got used to using the same Pistol and Shotgun throughout the entire game, only changing to the other types in order to pass a few challenges so I can gain some more stars. But, it’s best to experiment and find which weapon works best on each level as some are much better suited than others.
Unlike the weapons, and much to my surprise, you can’t ‘buy’ these boosts, you can only ‘find’ them. At the end of each successful run (even repeat runs in a level you’ve already beaten) you get to open a chest. Within this chest is three options, some credits and two boosts. You can choose whichever ‘prize’ tickles your fancy – unlike on mobile where it’s a ‘loot box’ style process. You also gain multiple boosts via the Arcade mode, which I’ll come to later.
Boosts are one-time enhancements for specific weapon types. For example, you can change all your pistol ammo for a particular run into explosive ammo, start off with more bullets than usual, give yourself incendiary rounds, or simply increase your reload speed. As these are one-time items and are lost upon use, I hoarded mine until I was doing my challenges clean-up and knew what I needed to do. It’s hard to get over 100 kills with a weapon if you only start with a few bullets, and killing multiple enemies at once is so much easier when they literally explode upon death!
The wastelands of a post-apocalypse zombie infestation would be very lonely if you had to venture out and face these undead creatures alone. As such, you can take a trusty companion with you into almost every level, companions which are unlocked, purchased and upgraded just like the weapons are. Initially, you’ll be given a dog, which you can name, that’ll run with you and randomly jump zombies with are in front of you, taking them down as they tear them to shreds. Throughout the game, you’ll also unlock a further four canine companions.
However, Into the Dead 2 doesn’t stop at dogs… How would you like your own Bear, Wolk, or Tiger to back you up? No? Well then, what about the evil ‘Terror Dogs’ from Ghostbusters, or even Slimer! Each creature has their own preference in what types of zombies they’ll target, upgradable attack power and speed, and some even have abilities you can trigger with the B button – one example is the wolf can summon a pack of wolves to take out multiple zombies which are in front of you.
Some missions also have human companions who will run along with you, each having an ability like above. I recall one such level having me running with a bunch of soldiers and pushing B made them go crazy and shoot everyone on screen for a few seconds, whereas they’d usually just shoot the odd zombie here and there. Also, the DLC packs, like the Ghostbusters one, has you performing your runs with the other four ghostbusters!
If you want to try and earn a large amount of gold (as the main story trickles it to you very slowly), unlock multiple boosts, or just try out new weapons, the Arcade mode is for you. In here there are 21 additional missions for you to play through, each one requiring you to have completed the previous before you can move on. The criteria are simple, there’s three death counters and three prizes, as you hit each death counter, you’ll unlock a prize. These missions don’t actually have an end in them either – they are literally endless runners.
So, run forever and kill as many undead monsters as you can, with the gun you’ve been given, without dying. Simple, right? Well, no. Depending on how good you are with specific weapons and what the actual goal is in terms of the death count, you could be replaying these missions over and over until you finally get enough to move on. Also, the prizes are a one-time thing, so you can’t keep grinding more and more gold by replaying an easier Arcade mission over and over.
Now, these are such a great addition to the game. With the base game (Digital only), you get access to three ‘Side Stories’ which unlock as you reach certain missions in the main game, Divided, Frostbitten, and Untamed. Each one is a twelve-mission long self-contained story which has its own narrative, environments, rewards and goals. They each come with two difficulties as well, Normal and Elite, with Elite only being unlocked once you’ve completed the story on Normal. The main difference between the difficulties, other than the rewards, is that the Elite mode is basically permadeath and returns you to the start of the story
if when you die.
Not only do these Side Stories reward you with up to 800 gold upon completion, but you’ll also have the chance to unlock new companions and weapons. I found these greatly increased my playtime with the game, which overall has been easily 30+ hours so far, maybe more!
However, the stand-out Side Stories are the final two, these are both contained for free in the physical edition of the game (along with the three above) or as a DLC purchase if you pick up the game digitally. These two stories are based on both George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and Ghostbusters! Operating exactly like the base game, an endless runner confined within a narrative as you try to reach a point and stay alive, these two immerse you in a new story based around the popular franchises.
Now, word of warning for those buying digital or those wanting to jump straight into these two DLCs, you can’t. Just like the previous Side Stories, you have to complete a certain number of the main story chapters before you can access these, with Ghostbusters requiring you to complete all sixty levels before you can even select it. Also, as these only unlock towards the end of the main game, they are hard, much harder than you’ve played previously. However, the rewards are worth the effort as you’ll unlock all the Ghostbuster weapons for use in all levels, Slimer, the Terror Dogs and the guns used in Night of the Living Dead.
Seriously, these side stories, clocking in at a total of an additional 60 levels, basically double the amount of content within the base game.
Mobile vs Switch:
So, the elephant in the room is, why would you pay £30+ for the Switch version when the mobile and tablet version is ‘technically’ free? Simple, there’s no additional payments or annoying in-app purchases! Now, there could be additional ‘gold’ purchases once the game goes live, but I’ve seen no indication of this happening as you earn plenty by actually playing the game.
As I said previously, I’ve played both the Switch and mobile version specifically so I could compare the two in terms of value. The mobile version has a graphical toggle, with the highest making the visuals look very similar to the Switch, so visually, there’s almost no difference, although the switch has removed touch-controls and opted for physical controls only. The Switch has also removed all forms of premium currency, timers which restricted how long you could play, the requirement to buy (with real money) dog treats so you can take companions in with you, having to find random parts in loot crates to unlock weapons and more.
The two things are missing from the Switch edition, which I would have loved but I’m not sure how they would do it, are the Daily and Event runs. These are challenges which pop up occasionally which you can participate in so you can try and unlock more currency or weapons. Instead, the Switch has the Arcade mode which isn’t in the mobile version. However, a daily rotational challenge would seriously have people coming back day after day, especially if it had a ‘gold’ reward for completing it.
As with any Microtransaction-ran free game on the Apple Store, Into the Dead 2 had purchases of gold which ranged from £4.99 to £99.99, as well as the option to buy certain weapons for £9.99. Thankfully, the Switch version has every level, companion and mission which is within the mobile edition, with the only omissions being a few weapons as the Freemium version has 40 whilst the Switch version has 33 including the Ghostbusters gear.
So, if you look at the two versions, in terms of the value for money, then it’s clear which is best. Sure, you can play the ‘free’ version for many hours and not pay a penny, but you’ll constantly have to stop because you have no energy, you’ll be stuck using the same weapons because you don’t have the parts or gold to buy new ones, you have to buy the additional Side Stories, and gold is even scarcer due to the push to have you pay for it. The only redeeming feature which the Switch version doesn’t have is the fact you can sync a controller to the iDevice and either use touch or physical controls. However, the Switch offers so much more as part of the overall package, with no incentive or pressure to force you to pay additional costs so you can enjoy the game.
This is where I would usually say that thanks to the game being ported onto more powerful hardware, the game looks and plays much better on the Switch. However, The iDevice version of the game has a built-in quality selector and I actually think that my iPad Air 2 version looks a little sharper than the Switch edition. Also, the Switch version does suffer minor slowdown when the screen is full of effects – such as when it’s night time and the zombies have been set on fire in front of you. These issues are very rare though as the majority of the game runs smooth.
Let’s not compare the game for a moment, Into the Dead 2 does look quite good, if a little simplistic at times, with decent cutscenes and good voice acting. When you get caught by a zombie, for example, you sometimes see them literally ripping you to pieces before you pass out, which is always nice. The various animal companions also look and act as you’d expect, helping you out and slaughtering the zombies for you.
In terms of controls, this is probably one of the simplest games I’ve played which has been ported from mobile, yet it still takes a little while to get used to the controls. Although you only sway from left to right, you have to fool the zombies by going one way then back on yourself, ensure you save enough bullets in case you get in a pickle, and also time your strafes so that you can easily run over the ammo dumps without getting mauled by a hungry ex-human!
Into the Dead 2 on the Nintendo Switch is just as addictive as the Mobile version, only with no sign of energy or in-App purchases! Despite the very simplistic controls and grindy purchase and upgrade mechanics, I found it incredibly hard to stop playing this game due to the constant progression and multitude of missions to complete. 60 levels of zombie slaughter, 300 missions to complete, 36 additional missions via three Side Stories (60 with the DLC/physical edition), and a whole host of companions, weapons, boosts, and Arcade events – this is simply the definitive edition of the game without any doubt. If you, like me, find yourself easily addicted to simple mobile games, this game will hook you and keep you playing for hours upon hours.
Personally, I’d recommend picking up the physical edition of the game, as it contains both the Night of the Living Dead and Ghostbuster DLC packs for free, but even without those, Into the Dead 2 is by far one of the better Microtransaction-ran mobile ports which have removed all premium currencies from the game. It can’t have been an easy task either, as the mobile version practically lived and breathed via the in-App purchases.
Sure, it’s a simple game at heart, but that doesn’t stop it being addictive as hell – I’m now trying to unlock the other two endings within the game – if only the Switch had trophies…
Into the Dead 2£31.49
- - Very addictive
- - Has stripped out all premium currencies, wait timers, loot boxes, and random gun creation mechanics
- - Contains a very long campaign and three Side Storys (five if you have the physical or buy the DLC)
- - Official Ghostbuster and Night of the Living Dead DLC
- - Simple gameplay but challenging to try and 100%
- - The game is technically 'free' on mobiles and tablets, depending on how much time you can invest a day (energy counters)
- - Gold is obtained quite slowly in the main campaign, making it a little grindy for credits at times
- - No daily challenges, like on Mobile, and the Arcade mode only lets you achieve monetary rewards once
- - No touch screen utilisation, even though it was a Mobile game originally