*Thank you to Goemonsama for his incredible fan art of the game – check out his site here**
Shiryõ Sensen War of the Dead is a classic horror game for the PC Engine, MSX, and PC-98 computers that will test your ability to survive in a demon-infested world. With scarce resources and hordes of undead constantly on your heels, you’ll need to make every move count if you want to make it out alive. War of the Dead is one of the first early concepts of video game survival horror, and it’s a title that should not be missed by fans of the genre.
To help other people experience this classic retro video game, I have compiled this walk-through guide for the PC-88 release. In it, I will go over all of the important points that you need to know in order to make your way through War of the Dead. I’ll also provide some tips and tricks on how to survive in this hostile environment.
Shiryõ Sensen War of the Dead is an action RPG game from 1987 published by Fun Factory for the MSX2, PC-88 and PC Engine. This guide looks at the 1988 release of War of the Dead: The Resurrection of Browning, which was intended to be a HD upgrade to the original MSX2 version. This guide will only be useful for those who want to play the PC-88 version, as all three games have their own unique strategies, characters, and flag points.
Things to note:
This game works via conversation/event flags. You can only advance in the game by triggering flags in the game. If you get stuck, the best advice is to go back to the church and talk to everyone several times to trigger new conversations that will open/activate a new flag.
Sometimes you might need to check a location or talk to people at a location until their conversations or points of interest stop revealing new conversations or information. Check things twice. Talk to people. Talk to many people. Keep talking to people. Eventually, one of them will say yes.
Fighting enemies will NOT give you experience points, ammo, heals, or drugs. Enemies just get in your way, and there is no way to avoid enemies in this game. You need to brute force your way through every encounter you gain. Think about it. You are fighting hell itself. Hell doesn’t get breaks, so don’t expect Hell to give you any.
It is important early in the game to fuse your weapons using your PSY powers. If you don’t do this prior to fights, you will have a terrible time. Some enemies are only weak to certain weapons. Learn which enemies are weak to which weapons, and switch to those in battle as needed.
Save every time you go to the church. If you are emulating this game, use save states at the church as a backup. Often things don’t work out as great as they should with emulators and older games. This is a stressful game. Enjoy it. No one will think less of you for wanting to play it safe.
There is no way to escape from battles unless you are in a boss fight. The game throws you a bone here with boss fights that if you are not fully healed or forgot to level up your weapons, you simply need to move Lila to the left, and you will exit the boss fight to get yourself in order.
THIS IS A VERY LONG, PUNISHING GAME.
Don’t try to do this all in one night. The RNG in this game is turned up to insanity. You will get frustrated. It will wear on you. Fighting Hell isn’t easy, like your taxes, breaking up with your ex or finishing med school. Fighting Hell is HELL. That’s the idea here. Saying this, if you finish this game, the feeling of total accomplishment is all yours, and no one can take that away from you. That’s why you love punishing games.
Don’t feel bad about using this guide. It is here to help you. I have written this guide with the least spoilers possible, so that you can still enjoy this game. I have tried to make this guide simple and in segments to be easy for anyone to use. If one step doesn’t work, bounce to the next step, go back to the church, or try skipping ahead a few steps to see if those actions trigger a flag. Sometimes we all get confused or lost, and having a general idea of what should come next or 3 steps ahead is what you need to keep your sanity in check playing this game.
Act 1: Let’s go to Church
1: Go into the Church. Every time you enter a holy area, you will be fully healed. Make sure you talk to everyone in the church several times until you stop getting new information from people. You can save your game by reading the Bible.
2: Go to City Hall. At city hall, you will find your first person to rescue, the Mayor Wells. Wells is never happy to see you. Take Wells back to the church. Notice that you cannot talk to anyone else on the over-world map when you rescue them.
3: Go to the School. On the first level of the school, you will find Janet, the school teacher, and Franklin, an army officer. Jannet is worried about her student Carol, who is lost somewhere on the third level of the school.
4: Boss Fight: Skeleton. Make sure your weapons are leveled up and you have full health. Kill the skeleton and save Carol. Take Carol back to the church and talk to everyone there.
5: Go back to the School. Help Janet on the first floor and take her back to the church. Talk to everyone at the church.
6: Go back to the School. Talk to Franklin on the first floor. He will refuse to go with you, but will say he will keep fighting and mention the hospital. This will open the flag for events at the hospital.
7: Go to the Hospital. Talk to a new friend you’ll meet there named Wes on the first floor to activate a new flag. Grab any items in the boxes now that you can carry. Don’t go anywhere else in the hospital at this point, unless you want any needless fights.
8: Go back to the Church and talk to everyone, but talking to the Priest Carpenter will unlock a new flag about the boat house. This conversation will open the door in the back of the boat house, where you can get the crappy raft.
9: Go to the boat house. The door in the back of the boat house will now open. Be ready for a boss fight. You now will have the crappy raft. Always remember where you leave your crappy raft when you use it. Go back to the church, talk to everyone, get clues about the army camp.
10: Take the raft to the Army camp. Talk to the military soldier Gordon, who is hiding in the center. Get rifles and bullets. Gordon will not come with you. You can check the nearby dig site there, but it will have nothing but supplies. Stock up on supplies there if needed.
11: Go to the Ruins, located on the island in the center of the world map. You will find professor Whitman there. Take him back to the church. Talk to everyone at the church. Find out about Peter, who works at the drugstore.
*** These steps here are a bit convoluted, and you might be able to do some out of step, depending on how you trigger events. My recommendation is that you check out the library before going to the hut, as I have found that you might fub the game up going to the hut before looking at the library. Saying that, you might try some of these steps out of order, minus the flag at the Library. ***
12: Go to the drug store and meet Peter for the first time. He looks like Action Jackson! Peter is a cool guy, but refuses to go with you. Stock up on supplies
13: Go back to the school and talk to Franklin on the first floor. He will say he will make his way to the hospital.
14: Go back to the Church and talk to everyone. Talking to Carpenter will open the cabin in the woods flag.
15: Go to the Library. MAKE SURE YOU GO TO THE LIBRARY BEFORE GOING TO THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. Examine the stairs. You might have to look at the stars several times.
16: Got to the cabin in the woods. There you will meet Fran, who is waiting for her boyfriend Steven. Talk to Fran. If you look at one of the boxes in that room, you will find a staircase to the basement. Go into the basement and talk to the old woman Ommadawn. Go back to the church. This is a perfect time to take a break. Hell wasn’t beaten in a day!
Act 2: The Hospital
1: Go to the Hospital.
2: Go to the second floor and talk to Franklin, who is now upstairs guarding a door. Talking to him will activate the hospital basement flag.
3: Go to the basement of the Hospital and find Doctor Bus. Talk to him and get the key. Keep talking to Doctor Bus until he is 200% dead.
4: Go back to the second floor of the hospital and talk to Franklin upstairs.
5: Power up your weapons and heal. Open the door and go into the room for a boss fight with a Melting Man. This fight is very hard at this stage, so ensure you are at full health and have your weapons powered up. After this fight, you will now find this boss is now a regular overwork enemy, so be ready for more Melting Men in the hospital and on the map. If you don’t have your weapons upgraded and are at full health, these enemies will take you out quick. Beat the boss, talk to Sandra, and look at Patrick. Sandra will not go with you, but will take your shotgun.
6: Go back to the Church and talk to everyone to get clues.
10: Go to the cabin in the woods and talk to Fran and Ommadawn. It’s unclear what you should do from her conversation here, but head up towards the mansion.
11: Go into the Manson, check the first floor and find Cameron. If he’s not inside the mansion, walk carefully along the right side of the outside of the mansion, and he will show up.
12: Take Cameron to the church. Talk to everyone at the church to activate more flags. You will get the shotgun from Cameron.
13: Time to return to the Hospital. Talk to Franklin on the second floor, Sandra, and check Patrick again. Talk to Franklin until he talks about Gordon, which activates Gordon’s flag.
14: Go to the dig site next to the army base. Go to the basement and find the dead corpse of Gordon. Check the corpse a few times until you get a medallion.
15: Go back to the church, talk to everyone and save.
16: Go back to the Hospital and talk to Franklin, Sandra and Patrick. They still don’t come back with you, so go back to the church and try opening a few more flags.
17: At the church, talk to Carrie to unlock a conversation about the medallions. Talking to Whitman might also unlock conversations about the University laboratory.
18: Go to the Laboratory. Check to make sure there are no medallions in the broken case. You might need to come back here later if you do not find any medallions.
19: Go back to the Church. Talk to everyone. Janet will ask about Roger and Peter, and you will learn a bit about their back story. This is a good time to take a break. The next act will be hard, so be prepared to have lots of medical supplies and drugs.
Act Three: Drugs Drugs Drugs.
1: Go to the drug store and talk to Peter. He will talk about his good buddy Roger, who works in the cemetery. Stock up on supplies here if you haven’t already.
2: Go to the Cemetery. Walk straight up and left and examine the corpse. The corpse is Roger (oh no!). Check him again to reveal the entrance to the basement of the cemetery. Be ready for a boss fight.
3: Search in the underground cemetery tunnels and find Kronenberg. She will not go with you. Be ready to fight Melting Men in this area, and always have your weapons leveled up.
4: Go back to the drug store and talk to Peter about Roger
*** You might get stuck at this point if going to the hospital doesn’t activate the flags to trigger Patrick. If this happens, check the Cabin in the Woods and Kornenburg again to ensure those flags are triggered ***
5: Go back to the Church. Talk to everyone.
6: Time to save everyone at the Hospital. Go there and take Patrick back to the church.
7: Go back to the Hospital. Take Sandra to the church.
8: When at the church, talk to everyone, especially Cameron.
9: Go to the Hospital. Talk to Franklin. He will ask about the walkie-talkie.
10: Go back to the Church. Talk to everyone, especially Cameron again. You might need to check on Kornenburg at the cemetery, but I am suspicious that you don’t need to, as her conversation doesn’t trigger anything new.
11: Go back to the Army camp and take the walkie-talkie from the shelf. Go back to the church, talk to everyone and save. Stock up on supplies! Talking to Janet will activate the next flag at the school.
12: Go to the School. A message appears when you try to enter the classroom on the northwest of the first floor, activating the next flag.
13: Go back to the Church. Talk to the priest, and he will mention the rope ladder at the drugstore.
14: Go to the Drug Store and get the rope ladder from Peter.
15: Go back to the School. When you enter the classroom on the northwest of the first floor, the rope ladder will be automatically applied.
16: Level up your weapons, heal and defeat the boss in the basement, and get another Medallion.
17: Go back to the Church. Talk to everyone until Patrick remembers his dream.
18: Go back to the Hospital. Take Franklin to the church. If the first time he fails, keep talking to him until he does. You might need to go back to the church, talk to everyone, and then get him. Fraklin will take your radio when back at the church.
19: Going back to the drug store and talking to Peter will now give you free food.
20: Go to the cabin in the woods and talk to Ommadawn and Fran. Fran will go with you back to the Church.
21: Time to find Romeo in the Ruins. The ruins have poison gas and no lights, and everything hits hard as hell. Make sure you have lots of medications, as every step you take will take off 1 HP of health. Romero is in the second level far left. Talk to him, and he will turn into a zombie. Defeat Romero in the basement and get a machine gun.
22: Checking the spring water here will activate a message. Check it twice, but you will not continue as the water blocks your way. This will activate the flag for this area.
23: Go back to the Church and talk to everyone until you learn about the flashlight.
*** Keep in mind now who is still not in the church: Steven, Peter, Konenburg, Ommadawn, Wes and Castle (who we have not met yet). Romero’s corpse is still in the ruins ***
24: Go to the drug store. There you will find Stephen shopping. Take him to the church, and Fran will be happy. Talking to Franklin now or after you get the flashlight will trigger a flag.
25: Go back to the drug store and get the flashlight. Stock up and return to the church. Franklin will say the army has dropped some supplies at the cemetery.
26: Go to the Cemetery and you will find several boxes with armor, a gas mask, but the explosives are missing.
27: Go back to the Church and talk to everyone.
28: Go back to the cabin in the woods. Talk to Ommadawn.
29: Continue to the mansion from here. Don’t go into the mansion, but hug the right side exterior and find the basement steps. Enter the basement and be ready for rotten fights where encounter rates with Melting Men are high. There will be a room where every step will trigger a fight with them. Stay strong and get yourself to Wes. Talking to him will get you a medallion.
30: Go back to the cabin in the woods. Talk to Ommadawn.
31: Go back to the church, talk to everyone, learn about the ruins and the water down there. Great time to take a break and stock up on supplies.
Act Four: Get Ruined
1: Now that you have the armor and the gas mask, the Ruins are much easier to explore. You will notice red blocks that prevent you from going to some staircases, but get comfortable on where the locations of two springs are. Examine the springs and rivers underground twice to activate the next flags.
2: Return to the Church. Talk to everyone. The priest asks about what Wes is doing.
3: Visit Wes in the basement of the mansion, but he’s not there. Go into the mansion and go to the second floor and find a room with a door. Get ready for an easy boss fight. Look in an empty box and take the picture.
4: Return to the Church. Korneburg should be back with Cameron. Talk to everyone several times until everyone says the same thing, and no new conversations open up.
5: Time to get Peter! Go to the drug store and take Peter to the church.
6: Get a flamethrower from Peter and talk to the priest and everyone. The priest will talk about Browning’s grave.
7: Go to the Cemetery. Browning’s grave has a slight green coloring. Checking it will open up a passage to the underground cemetery.
8: Search the underground cemetery and get a medallion.
9: Return to the Ruins. Examine the red stone monument on the first basement floor to trigger a new flag.
10: Returning now to the Mansion, you will find the dead corpse of Wess. Oh shucks. Pour one out for our home boy.
11: Talk to Ommadawn at the cabin in the woods, and she will go with you. Take her to the first basement of the ruins, and she will read them. Now we are ready to set up the end game when you get Ommadawn back at the church.
Act Five: End Game
1: Talk to everyone at the church, and Peter will talk about the explosives. You will find that Sandra will give you free medical supplies, and Cameron will eventually give you free drugs. Use them to stock up. You need more medical supplies vs drugs.
2: Return to the Drug store. Find explosives on the back left shevles.
3: Return to the Ruins. Examine the fountain and river to activate a flag.
4: Talk to everyone at the church, learn about the Mayor wanting to get documents at the Town Hall. Talk to everyone to get more info about the springs in the ruins.
5: Time to blow stuff up. Go to the Ruins. When you examine the springs, you will use explosives on them.
6: Go to the far left spring. Here you will find the corpse of Castle, and checking him will get you the bazooka. The bazooka is the strongest gun in the game, but you cannot move or jump when you use it. I might suggest you use the flamethrower and the grenade launcher as your two go to weapons. Make sure you look at the springs down here, and then go back to the church.
7: Talk to everyone at the church, and you find out the Mayor is missing.
8: Go to Town Hall and get the mayor. Take him back to the church and talk to everyone there to learn about the back room there.
9: Go back to town hall and open the door of the city hall and fight a boss there. Check the box in this room and get a mediation.
10: Return to the Church. Talk to everyone. THIS PART GETS TRICKY. Talk to everyone until all the conversations loop. Then, check the left side of the cross near Carol. Talk to Carol and then check the cross again. You will find the final mediation here (hence why this area is protected).
11: TALK TO EVERYONE, Especially Whittman and Carrie. This part gets tricky, as talking to everyone unlocks new conversations, but keep talking to everyone until Whittman and Ommadawn mention things about sealing the gates to hell. SAVE here. If you go to the ruins and the doors to Hell do not open, reload your save at the church and keep talking to everyone, as the biggest challenge is ensuring you have talked to everyone to unlock the final flag.
12: Go to the Ruins. Take the path where Castle’s corpse is to get on the right path to the doors to hell. Check the door twice to unlock the doors. Fight the boss by going to the lower area and then straight up to open up a bridge. Defeat the boss. I suggest healing and leaving up the Bazooka and going to town until it’s dead.
14: Congratulations, you have saved the world but for how long……?