The indie zombie-filled survival horror franchise is back with Heaven Dust 2 and let me tell you, this is one bone-chilling adventure.
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As someone who has drifted away from survival horror games over the years, I'm very happy that Heaven Dust 2 brings the genre back to its roots with its clever puzzles and gameplay that forces you to conserve ammo and items within its daunting zombie-infested world. I thoroughly enjoyed the original Heaven Dust when I played it on Xbox One last year yet this sequel is a substantial step up with its refined combat and enemy variety but most importantly of all, its world design really knocks it out of the park. v1d30chumz 3-235-186-94
Specifically, Heaven Dust 2 presents extremely elaborate environments with many nooks and crannies which makes it a joy to explore, especially with its unique overhead isometric setup. As you carefully run around while keeping a keen eye out for hidden goodies and notes that may help with a puzzle down the road, you'll often see out-of-reach items and contraptions that you can't do anything with yet. Then, once you get the means to deal with these points of interest that you made mental note of, it's super-satisfying stuff.
I'm getting a little ahead of myself so let me explain what Heaven Dust 2 is all about. You play as a fellow named Steve who awakens from his cryogenic sleep at the First Research Center only to see that zombies are at it again so he suits up as quickly as he can, finds himself a gun, and tries to escape the institute. Thankfully, the atmosphere is spot-on complete with dark albeit detailed environments and a quiet soundscape which makes zombie moans really pop. Meanwhile, the sound effects are just awesome as they make shooting zombies incredibly satisfying as you hear load gunshots and zombie flesh get torn apart in quick succession; gross, right?
Speaking of blasting zombies, Heaven Dust 2's combat is handled well in that it's simple yet rewarding and there's just enough room for strategy so that you can end up doing some pretty cool things. For example, if you see an explosive barrel and a bunch of zombies snacking on a corpse, you can lure them towards it, shot the barrel, and run away. If you perform that with precise timing, it can be fantastically rewarding. Meanwhile, your arsenal consists of a pistol and a dagger early on but you'll expand it with a shotgun, submachine gun, and a couple kinds of grenades; one of which can stun zombies which lets you get extra shots in. Plus, it's fun discovering secondary uses such as blasting barricades with your shotgun, setting branches on fire, and powering up electrical boxes with stun grenades.
On top of all that, you can upgrade your weapons in Heaven Dust 2 by equipping accessories such as sights that make your character auto-target weak spots quicker, shock absorbers that enhance fire rate, and magazines that increase clip size. Your inventory can also be combined in unique ways to craft ammo, enhance healing herbs, and create key items. All of this combines with the sense of exploration to create a consistently exciting formula where you never quite know what you'll end up stumbling across next.
On the downside, considering the environments within Heaven Dust 2 are as intricate as they are, it can sometimes be tricky to spot zombies such as when they're behind a wall which can make for some frustrating moments, especially when a zombie inexplicably appears in a previously cleared-out area. My only other complaint is that a lot of backtracking is involved as you essentially work your way through the campaign from the middle out and it can get exceptionally tedious whenever you have a single key item and don't know what to do with it. There's a map but it doesn't always help and frantically flipping through the notes just isn't my idea of a good time.
Heaven Dust 2 is perhaps the most amount of fun that I've had with a survival horror game in decades. Its retro sensibilities are absolutely spot-on. Plus, the rewarding campaign structure and intuitive combat that requires some strategy make it truly stand out.
- + Authentic old-school survival horror gameplay that's incredibly rewarding
- + Intricate puzzle-filled environments
- + Excellent atmosphere and effects
- - Some zombies can be hard to spot
- - Backtracking occasionally gets tedious