Heaven Dust 2 PC Review: Freeze, Steve!

Poor Steve, he had to cool off. Now he's awake and zombies have taken all the jobs! It's a Heaven Dust 2 review, on Steam (and Switch).

Where do we begin with this Heaven Dust 2 PC review? Perhaps from the start – or even better, starting with the Resident Evil 2 comparison. Though I’ve owned the remake for some years, I still haven’t played it, so basing this entirely on the original PlayStation game.

There’s a fine line between homage and ripping off a title, but One Gruel Studio’s game has been, for the most part, an absolute delight. We’re talking retro aesthetics and gameplay, served up with some crisp graphics, with a fresh bed of achievements.

Heaven Dust 2 doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel. If you’ve played the original Resident Evil 2, it’ll be familiar territory with slow-moving zombies, craving for a headshot, collecting plants to heal (combining green with red for a boost), plus plenty of puzzles, lore and more.

Heaven Dust 2 PC Review - Parklife
Parklife. Source: PR

Using a fixed-point isometric view, we join our hero Steve as he wakes from a cryogenic slumber to discover a horde of zombies taking over and his memory a little hazy. Queue some conspiracies and military forces opposed against scientists, and we have a recipe for a classic apocalyptic action-adventure.

Movement is easy enough, and the fixed cameras seldom infringe on your view. The aiming was excellent, aside from a scene I’ll come to in a bit. With a controller, the shoulder button unholsters the gun and locking on to an enemy often results in a one-hit-kill, the zombie losing its head like a grape bouncing out of butter-coated digits. 

Steve can use a pistol, submachine gun, and a shotgun with various mods and unique weapons; the more you play, the higher the challenge. A knife was available from the start, but I must have used this twice in the whole game as it was ineffective.

Taking down the zombies in Heaven Dust 2 is straightforward and immensely satisfying. I struggled with only one tactic: an electrical bomb lowers an enemy’s defence before shooting them (like the recent Flynn: Son of Crimson). Unfortunately, these defences regenerate and when you run out of grenades.

Heaven Dust 2 PC Review - Infinite ammo code
Infinite ammo cheat? Source: PR

Likewise, my aiming comment backfired during the optional shooting range. There are three moving targets you need to destroy to unlock the shotgun – the best all-rounder in the game. Using a controller for this was a nightmare, and I used all my pistol ammo in the process. In short, the solution was to switch to the mouse, which worked better. Unless the Switch has touchscreen control, I’d imagine this to be problematic for some.

But once that section was out of the way, I have to say that I was thoroughly enjoying Heaven Dust 2. There have been comments about crashes and other technical issues, but in fear of sounding like I’ve been paid off (I wish), there was only one minor issue where Steve got stuck in a fence for 10 seconds. That was it. I’m not saying there aren’t any problems with it, but I didn’t encounter them. My beef was with one of the bosses.

The initial boss was reminiscent of Resident Evil 2 once again but unique in its way, and both encounters were fun. I can’t say the same about a claw boss (not sure on the name). It was impossible (for me) to battle it without taking damage due to sluggish sprinting, no evade/roll, and no accurate indicator that my strategy was working. But worse of all, there was no way to backtrack, and I was trapped in this section until completion.

I beat it in the end but was genuinely enraged with the experience, and up to that point, I was on the verge of abandoning the game as it wasn’t enjoyable in the slightest. Interestingly, the final bosses were much more manageable and not stressful, though still a challenge. About ten minutes into the game, my anger subsided, and I was able to get back to my original train of thought: Heaven Dust 2 is an excellent game.

Heaven Dust 2 PC Review - Kiss chase
Kiss chase. Source: PR

It feels very retro, arguably dated in some respects, but that’s a good thing from my perspective. The developers were clear on Resident Evil 2‘s influence, but I never felt it was a rip-off or unoriginal. It was just familiar. There aren’t any cutscenes or spoken dialogue – the latter is a bit weak, but that doesn’t matter as the overall gameplay (with the exceptions of the claw boss and shooting range) was fantastic.

The puzzles in Heaven Dust 2 can sometimes be a little ‘out there’ and not always intuitive, but they were challenging enough for this game to stand out. Like the issues many had with Cyberpunk 2077, I didn’t experience them and thought the game was superb. The same with Heaven Dust 2. Ignoring my peeves with the game, I highly recommend it – more so that repeat plays are encouraged should you think that claw boss was easy and could beat it on expert.

Check out the trailer below: