The main series all have common elements of a pair of agents teaming up to take on hordes of biologically engineered undead. The games are divided into chapters, each of which culminates in a boss battle against usually massive, terrifying creatures. With the notable exception of one game, the bosses in the games are all named after the Major Arcana of occult tarot . The games are all controlled with a light gun in the arcades, but can be played with controllers or a mouse on consoles or the computer.
Every game in the main series is an on-rails light-gun style shooter, while the spin-offs ranges from pinball to beat 'em up.
The following is a table of all the playable characters in The House of The Dead series. Their roles are indicated by P1 (player 1) and P2 (player 2).