Review – Dead or School (Switch)

This is second game revolving around the remainders of human civilization living in an abandoned metro system I’m reviewing in a seven day span. Even though the first one was the Switch version of Metro 2033 Redux, the other game I’m tackling isn’t its sequel. Instead, I’m reviewing the long-awaited (I’d assume?) Switch version of Dead or School, an anime-styled metroidvania originally released for PC in 2018.


Some people have very odd life goals.

As previously mentioned, Dead or School features a very similar premise to Metro. A mysterious virus turns a good chunk of the population either into zombies, mutants, or monsters (it’s quite confusing and the game doesn’t bother explaining the difference). The human survivors eventually seek shelter inside the Tokyo metro system, creating entire civilizations throughout the stations. They survive by living off cockroaches and frogs, and breeding and continuing their species without ever seeing the light of day.

All that changes when seventy years later, a young girl named Hisako decides to save humanity and ascend to the surface. Why? Because she heard about what a school is and she wants to attend one above the ground. I wish I was joking but that’s basically the reason why she decides to embark on a journey, as well as giving her a reason to dress her up in a near-hentai schoolgirl outfit.

Yeah, Dead or School is one of those games. It’s the thirsty fanservice Japanese game. It’s all about over-the-top reactions, ear-piercing J-rock, loud voice acting, erotic imagery, and young jail-baity Japanese girls that make the Dead or Alive roster look like a bunch of overly dressed nuns in comparison. It’s painfully obvious that the designers focused their efforts on the anime chicks and not the rest of the game as a whole, as this is one ugly little title. There are even some stills featuring what I can only assume are monster tentacles and chicks minutes away from turning this otherwise average title into pure hentai, but you always end up saving them before that happens, to the relief of the parents who run the ESRB.


Running around with the power of a post-apocalyptic ninja with a poor sense of fashion.

There is another thing that is almost always present in games like this: terrible Engrish. Granted, Dead or School‘s translation is nowhere near as bad as the one featured in that laughably atrocious Vroom in the Night Sky released three years ago. Still, it almost feels like the same guy responsible for its localization worked on this title as well,  with the difference being that he had three more years to improve his English skills from “completely inept” to “mediocre, but in a somewhat endearing way”. Then again, I have no idea how someone would be able to translate this game’s silly plot into something not worthy of a laugh, so at the very least the guy in charge deserves some merit for trying.

Gameplay-wise, Dead or School is a by-the-books metroidvania. Each station acts as a section of a wider map, and it’s up to you to find keys, acquire hidden items, upgrade your weapons, level up, customize your skills, fight a few bosses, and occasionally meet a few survivors who will conveniently be able to clean the path towards the next station. It almost feels like a budget Symphony of the Night at times, as you can clearly see that the developers took a lot of inspiration from Koji Igarashi’s Castlevania titles in particular.


If you’re low on health, your schoolgirl uniform will begin to fall apart. By the way, yes, finding a sundae IS a sidequest.

One of the best things about the gameplay is how your main character is always carrying three types of weapon: a sword, a “light” ranged weapon (usually a machine gun, a rifle, or a shotgun), and a freaking bazooka. That allows for a bit of freedom when dealing with enemies, as each type of weapon can be fully modded to make them deal more damage or carry more ammo. There is a huge emphasis on moving around and dodging enemy attacks. You’re even able to slow down time and inflict a lot of pain on whoever is trying to attack you if you manage to dodge an attack right before getting hit, just like in Bayonetta. That is easier said than done, however, as Dead or School features a bit of input delay. It’s not exactly game-breaking, but it’s worth mentioning.


Yes, this is one of THOSE games…

There’s also a ton of grinding in here. Right from the get-go, you’ll notice that the game will deliberately throw tons of much stronger enemies at you. They’ll be able to kill you in a few hits, not before triggering a small cutscene in which your schoolgirl outfit gets torn apart whenever your health gets dangerously low. That supposedly gives you a slight attack boost, but considering how difficult it is to recover health outside of save points, you’ll die shortly afterwards. You’ll be forced to constantly kill smaller enemies in order to acquire experience points and crafting material for your weapons. It just feels like artificial padding to make this game even longer. That and the excruciating amount of pointless dialogue…


I feel that calling this mutant “fat” was unnecessarily harsh.

I think the main question here is: who is Dead or School for? It’s definitely not suited for fans of story-driven experiences because its writing is so bad it almost looks intentional. It’s definitely not suited for otakus because there are way better options on the Switch eShop as of now. It’s not suited for metroidvania enthusiasts because, frankly, the console already has options like Ori and the Blind Forest and Hollow Knight. Dead or School is not the worst game I’ve ever played, far from it, but I struggle to find positive aspects in it that make me want to recommend it to any demographic out there.


Graphics: 4.5

The questionably erotic stills are actually the best visual elements Dead or School has to offer. The rest of the game is comprised of low quality polygonal backgrounds and character models so small you can barely pay attention whether they’re detailed or not.

Gameplay: 6.5

Your typical metroidvania gameplay loop with slight input delays, a weird aiming system, lots of submenus and customization options, and a ton of grinding. It gets the job done, but it’s far from perfect.

Sound: 5.0

Loud and incomprehensible Japanese voice acting that clashes with some very occasionally decent background music. The game has a tendency of interrupting the background tunes the moment they’re about to become interesting.

Fun Factor: 6.0

Dead or School‘s map design and overall setting are actually pretty good. Its gameplay is average at best. Its story, amount of grinding, and translation are really bad, even though the latter can often make you laugh at how incompetent it is.

Final Verdict: 5.5

Dead or School is available now on PS4, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Dead or School was provided by the publisher.