If I were the type of person to say that some games are a guilty pleasure, I’m pretty sure the entirety of the Dead Rising series would be at that top of that list. Combing a lot of brutality with even more absolute absurdity, I find just wandering around slaughtering hordes of zombies in these games to be super satisfying. I picked up most of the games back in 2017 from Humble in the Capcom Rising bundle (the same bundle in which I obtained the game I played for last #CapcoMonth – DMC: Devil May Cry). Although I played them somewhat out of order (starting with DR2 while I waiting for the PC port of the original to come down in price), I’ve played all four canon entries in the series from start to finish.
However, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record is a non-canon retelling of the story in the second game, swapping out protagonist Chuck Greene for the star of the first game, Frank West. I originally planned to play it right after completing the second game, but I found it a little tedious to go through the story line back to back, so I shelved it. I briefly dabbled in it again back in 2019, but didn’t get much past the first case.
Since my previous choices for this year’s #CapcoMonth didn’t work out, I decided to give this one another chance to see if maybe the third time would be the charm.
Over the last week or so, I put about 10 hours into the game, just about reaching the mid-point of the main story, and spending a little time dabbling in the sandbox mode. All progress you make in the game holds, even if you elect to start the main game over. This is good, not only because the difficulty curves often feel like cliffs, but because the tight time limits on both story quests and side activities can cause you to hit a hard fail state without being able to prepare for it. It feels like it’s a game you’re meant to restart so you can learn the patterns of the events of these three days in Fortune City and be able to better optimize how you spend your time.
My first major failure came from being too far from the base when a quest popped – there was just no way to get back in time once I was informed of the new quest, causing me to be locked out of the remaining main story line. I could (and did) just revert to an earlier save, making it so I only had to redo a few hours versus the entire story. In addition to the tight timeline, DR2: OTR also makes use of a checkpoint system and limited save points; you’ll need to find a restroom if you want to have an actual save point to reload, but the checkpoints give you an autosave at most story beats and area transitions, so recovering from a death isn’t so bad provided you don’t exit the game.
I thought it might just be a case of both having been away from the series awhile, as well as having played the fourth game (which is by miles the easiest) most recently, but I was surprised by how punishing the game was. However, the general consensus is that this game is near the top when it comes to difficulty in the series, with only the first game being more demanding. Of course, the ability to play in sandbox mode, as well as to carry over progress into new saves means that you can – eventually – overpower the story.
However, that’s not nearly where I’m at now. I’ve hit a jump where I realize I’m going to either need to restart the story again or spend a lot of time leveling up in the sandbox to – personally – feel ready to take on what the game is throwing at me, and with the end of the month so close now, I realize I won’t even come close to completing this one in time to do a Game Over.
In fact, my plan is currently to take a few days off, and then restart the story with my bigger, buffer Frank West, and see if I can save a few more people along the way.