Let it Die opens with the Grim Reaper, who for unknown reasons has a Finnish accent, decapitating a man before proceeding to reveal his skateboard with game’s title on the back. It is a perfect opening for a game that is entirely and deliberately at odds with itself. As ingenious as it is cobbled together. As whimsical and Japanese as it is generic and western. Though, by no means a perfect game, or even a good one, it is damn lovable.
To describe Let It Die is to describe madness. It has same oddness that developer Grasshopper Manufacturing made its name from in games such as No More Heroes and Lollipop Chainsaw. The day to day grind (and it is a grind) of the game takes place in The Tower of Barbs. A semi-randomly generated grey ruin dominated by zombie style ‘hater’ enemies. The fighting mechanics revolve around a strange Dark Souls/Streets of Rage beat em’ up hybrid system. So generic and meaninglessly violent it almost descends into parody. And that’s the point.
You see, you are not actually playing a character trying to survive the Tower of Barbs. You are somebody at an arcade playing a video-game, on a scarab beetle whilst the game’s grim reaper watches on. Basically, it’s gloriously confusing and I haven’t even begun to describe where Japanese Pop Music, eating live frogs and MMO elements like ‘invasions’ from other players, begin to factor in. The first 10 hours of the game need to be seen to be believed. It is a surrealist poem written in bland graphics and a low budget. A Picasso painting drawn on a toilet cubicle.
It is a surrealist poem written in bland graphics and a low budget
Although free, the game gradually becomes less and less worthy of your time. Unfortunately, whilst the core game-play loop is satisfying, unlike games such as Dark Souls, the randomly generated nature of the dungeons gives limited room for scope or creativity in design. You explore the same corridors over and over, fighting the same enemies to nauseum. Even though it iss remarkably generous for a ‘free-to-play’ game and escapes the ‘pay to win’ trope that has plagued many of its kind, the ticking clocks that essentially force you to wait for days to upgrade armors, feel a little too Simpsons:Tapped out for me.
Moreover, the ‘invasions’ from other players, who can be greatly superior to your character, makes the game unbalanced and unfair. Unfortunately, Let It Die contains neither the randomly generated thrills and replay-ability of games like The Binding of Isaac nor the tight game-play and incredible design of the Dark Souls series. This forces it to eventually blend into a kind of daily sludge.
And yet… there’s a certain something to Let It Die that sticks in your head. A certain level of excess that intoxicates. This is a game where you can stomp on a rat to find a mushroom and then shoot that mushroom with a firework launcher to cook it. A game where you sneak up on zombies to German Suplex them until they explode. A game where you do yoga to regain energy. The list of crazy shenanigans goes on. Let It Die therefore is not a great game, but it’s infectious, manic, energy should be experienced by all.