Arcade Review: House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn – True Horror Returns

A classic SEGA franchise brand that spawned many sequels, spinoffs, movies and a vast global following of core and casual players since its debut in arcades in 1997. It has been 12 years since we have seen a House of the Dead game in the arcades worldwide and with SEGA CEO Haruki Satomi wanting to win older fans trust again when it comes to their brand, we finally managed to get a sample of that trust with a new entry to the classic arcade horror shooter. House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn, announced back in January 15th 2018 for Japanese arcades, is now in the west and we got a chance to play and complete it! The House of the Dead has risen beyond the grave once again but does this latest entry live up to our expectations. Hit the jump to read our review of House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn.

House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn takes place three years after the events of The House of the Dead 4 where AMS Agents, Kate Green (now a veteran agent) and Ryan Taylor (brother of James Taylor), are sent on a mission to investigate the manor filled with monstrous creatures and to uncover who the mysterious man behind the organization responsible for the man made creatures and find out his motives behind “Noah’s Ark” . Similar to previous House of the Dead games, players can choose which branching path to take and four different endings to obtain by beating the game under certain conditions.

In terms of graphics, House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn is powered by the Unreal Engine which brings the game to life with detail in 1080p high definition and increases the zombie count to it’s fullest extent. The game’s setting seems to make callbacks to the first House of the Dead game with it taking place in a medieval-like mansion with Gothic interiors and exteriors.

The creatures are vastly unique as some of them are returning from the first game with suits and ties and new creatures that may make you question what wacky ideas the developers decided to add to the game, one great example is a Slash look a like zombie that attacks you with a guitar. There are four bosses at the end of each chapter both old and new. I won’t give too much detail on the last three but I would say that you will see Chariot back from the dead and he received some major upgrades since his last appearance. Characters like Ryan and Kate have great designs, not especially realistic but their character designs are amazingly detailed; especially Kate in her red party guest dress.

The game uses motion sensor light guns with two buttons and switch, one to shoot enemies and the other two for switching weapons during gameplay. At the start of the game, you can either choose to play through the story from the beginning game through “Story Mode” or choose one of the 3 routes to start from in “Select Path Mode”. Once you choose one of those options, you are able to choose any of 12 weapons to use to your disposal such as Shotguns, Laser, Energy cannons and more. Since Dakota, my player 2 reviewer, and I were playing the western version of the game, “Master Mode” and the use of the Aime cards to earn HOD coins and compete in national rankings has been removed which is a downer but didn’t stopped us from enjoying the game. From our playthrough, the accuracy of the motion sensor light guns are on point when aiming at overwhelming zombies on the screen and automatically reloads when you run out of bullets.

Getting head shots on enemies consecutively in a row from Good to Perfect will earn players a higher score. In certain situations, you will have to save certain civilians in the manor and your partner. While saving the civilians wasn’t a problem for us, trying to save each other from hand gripping zombies were a bit difficult to handle as you are giving a certain time limit to save each other. In certain points of the game some zombies were hard to reach as they were a bit off the screen and cost us a life. At the end of each stage, you will be ranked with a letter grade depending on your performance based on score, accuracy, defeated enemies, critical shots and events. One of the best things I enjoyed about while playing throughHouse of the Dead Scarlet Dawn was the arcade cabinet features. In certain parts of the game such as Chapter 0 for example, the seats will rumble as explosions are happening in the surrounding area and air will blow in your face when enemies break through windows or you getting on the helicopter. It felt as if we were in a amusement park ride and boy it was an amazing experience. If you are wondering how long does it take to beat the game, Dakota and I were able to complete the game within 50 minutes to an hour including letting the cut scenes play out.

The sound & music in House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn will satisfy anyone who played the original four as it has cheesy one liners from the two AMS Agents. Even the main antagonist, Thornheart, has a few amazing speeches during his screen time. The downside to this version of the game is that the main characters do not have any subtitles with the exception of a few bosses. The game has a few great tracks during the levels and were composed by Hiroshi Kawaguchi (former S.S.T. Band member) and Ryohei Kohno (Yakuza 4). Music will vary from scary orchestra vocals to eerie rock tunes. This time around, each boss has their own theme music which expresses them in a great manner that I thought the developers added in quite nicely. The arcade cabinet itself has a few good sound effects when left alone. Before you start the game, you’ll hear various zombie noises and a few lines like “Please…. someone… stop this!” inside the arcade cabinet which is also one of the best features of the game.

Playing House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn was an amazing experience for uses its arcade cabinet features. If you are dying to play a good arcade game with a friend and are fan of The House of the Dead series, House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn is worth checking out at Dave & Busters and soon to be released in other places sometime in November. Here’s hoping that the potential console version will include the missing features from the Japanese arcade mode and new exclusive modes for high replay value.


  • Great Character/Creature Designs
  • Amazing Callback from HOTD1 with Background settings
  • Motion Control Light Guns
  • Great variety of boss themes
  • Arcade Cabinet Features


  • Partner rescue events can be cheap at times
  • Missing Aime features and Master Mode from the Japanese version


5 responses to “Arcade Review: House of the Dead Scarlet Dawn – True Horror Returns

  1. Giga_Force says:

    If this comes to the PlayStation 4 one day, do you think it’ll be VR exclusive? I kinda hope not, but The House of the Dead 4 used the move controller on PlayStation 3 and I don’t see any other way this would work.

  2. DennisLivingston says:

    Would love to see this and more rail shooters in general on PSVR

  3. Hitrax says:

    Slopes Game Room (SGR) has just also down a stellar documentary of the entire House of the Dead series too, including a preview of the latest Scarlet Dawn.

    Click here —->

    It covers just about absolutely everything related to it.

  4. JogosTerror says:

    didnt know this game,
    looks cool…

  5. KeNFiS says:

    This game is awesome, played it at the coast would be cool if it were on the Switch using Z to shoot and control stick to switch weapons (on one Joy-con)

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