Have you ever gotten bummed out that video games nowadays are too predictable, too stress-free and flat-out too expensive? Well look no further! Developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by GungHo Online Entertainment, “Let It Die” is the answer to your prayers while simultaneously being something out of a LSD induced nightmare. This free-to-play rogue hack and slash game was released to the PlayStation Store in December of 2016, and recently released in Japan as of February 2nd. The story takes place in the year 2026, where the world as we know it has turned to metaphorical sh*t caused by a catastrophic tectonic shift. However, out of the ashes of our destroyed societal infrastructure, comes a tower constructed of what seems to be old skyscrapers haphazardly duct taped together.
The “Tower of Barbs” has many secrets that lay and wait to be discovered by the true champion who reaches the top. You begin the game by selecting a character from a pool of avatars who are equivalent to human-lab-rats. You’re then greeted by what can only be described as the coolest rendition of the grim reaper I’ve ever seen. A skateboarding, x-ray glasses wearing, golf-club/scythe wielding “foreign hipster” who promptly leads you through the tutorial, effectively changing your name to “Senpai” as he reminds you constantly. If you thought the game couldn’t get any weirder, you’re wrong. The game somehow does a complete 180, by revealing to you that you’re actually just playing video game in a dirty and likely smelly, arcade. But your favorite grim reaper buddy, “Uncle Death” is here too? And he’ll be along for the ride and your biggest supporter as he encourages you to hop back into the game and climb the tower!
Let It Die is free to play and available for download through the PlayStation Store.
To be blunt, Let It Die is like Dark Soul’s trippy cousin. The enemies get progressively difficult as you dodge roll your way up the tower. As you kill other avatars climbing the tower, they dramatically explode, showering you in blood. Sometimes dropping gold pieces that you'll use to buy necessities as you advance through the game. The combat, while sometimes clunky, can best be described as invigorating. This is because at anytime, the durability of one of your weapons could expire leaving you with just your bare hands to defend yourself. While you can usually pick up weapons off one of the hundreds of lifeless enemy bodies you’ve left behind, any hopes of advancement to the higher levels of the tower will require you to craft weapons and armor that you'll unlock by collecting blueprints. To add to the quirky insanity of this game, your avatar regains his/her health by consuming wild mushrooms and creatures scurrying around the tower. While some mushrooms restore health, there are others that present a variety of health problems such as being poisonous and well…explosive. They can also be tossed like a grenade and be an effective method to incapacitating an enemy. However, be cautious when using mushrooms, both consuming and throwing these mushrooms are done using the DualShock controller’s touchpad. Nothing worse than trying to surprise an enemy with a grenade mushroom and accidentally eating it…
Like your weapons, you should never get too attached to your avatar, because you are going to die …a lot. Whether you consumed a toxic mushroom as mentioned before, or accidentally dodge rolled your way into someone’s “chainsaw fists”, you never truly know when, where or how death is going to come. The game does a good job at hammering home that your avatars are expendable. Hell, every time you need a new one the only thing that he or she has on are a pair of form-fitting boxers or undergarments. If you’ve grown particularly fond of a leveled-up avatar that meets an unruly fate, you can pay some gold to Uncle Death to revive them from the storage freezer. You also can opt to revive your avatar while you’re climbing the tower using “Death Metal.” If you decide not to, or simply do not have any Death Metal left, your character will wander the tower as a “Hater” (NPC who targets you or other players). You can get your avatar back. But only if you defeat its haterfied self. This is somewhat frustrating after working hard to level up your avatar, only to end up having to repeat the arduous process of leveling up a new one.
Even if you play it safe with your character you can still lose them through the “Tokyo Death Metro”, an asynchronous multiplayer aspect of the game that allows other players to join teams and recklessly raid your base. Often making off with hard-earned items and leveled up characters left in the storage freezer. Because of the high-rate of death, need to buy more lethal/durable weapons and threat of theft, you usually run low of currency at some point. But fear not, the game offers you the option to spend real money in this free-to-play game if you don’t mind spending a little cash to live longer.
Let it Die’s graphics are simply OK for a PS4 title (Don’t forget, it’s a free-to-play). They are not what I would consider high-resolution graphics.Each floor of the tower seems nothing more than “cut and paste” models with some slight variations. The floors and walls all have clear signs of erosion, with some blood and or mold thrown in for good measure. Leaky pipes and other broken down equipment scattered throughout the tower don’t necessarily distract you from the fact that floor 2 looks oddly similar to that of floor 8. One thing to be said about the characters and equipment of this game is that they’re truly unique. Words alone do not do them justice. Whether your wielding a hot clothes-iron, fireworks launcher or a human sized pickaxe, you’ll find yourself wondering what the development team was smoking when they brainstormed this game.
The audio for Let It Die is pretty much on par with the visual design in terms of quality. You would think that Akira Yamaoka’s soundtrack of over 100+ bands you’ve never heard of would provide as just as a unique sound experience as the gameplay. But most of the time you’ll be listing to the same background music with a boost of tempo and urgency when you come across enemies. The cut scenes are where you will hear the huge catalog of bands.The sound effects and character voices are definitely a bright spot for this lackluster aspect of the game. There’s nothing better than literally exploding your enemy into a mix of blood and gold coins, while hearing a sound similar to that of hitting a jackpot at a casino.
I believe that Let It Die has found an interesting niche within the gaming universe. Its personality resonates stronger than any other title I have played since owning a PS4, and while it is not on Dark Soul’s level of difficulty, I promise you that this game will have you on your heels as you try to advance up the tower. The type of punk-rock attitude the game exudes was expected from a Grasshopper Manufacturegame, as they were the ones who developed the game Lollipop Chainsaw in 2012. Because you’re given an influx of Death Metal and gold coins just for starting the game, I found the first several hours to be extremely exciting, but as I began to run low on in-game currency and found myself sacrificing characters that I spent hours developing, my pleasure began to shift into frustration and disdain. I was able to make it up to the second boss of the game before I set down my controller vowing to never play Let It Die again. My refusal to spend any real-life currency on this game had definitely hindered my ability to advance to the upper levels of the tower in a reasonable time.
Don’t get me wrong, the game is really fun to play and provides hours of challenging content. As of Feb 15th, 2017 the game even reached over 2,000,000 downloads worldwide. The game is exciting enough for casual gamers to enjoy for several hours and challenging enough for hardcore players to dedicate their time and energy into completing it.
As a true oddball game, Let It Die struck all the right cords with me until it forced me to decide whether to invest my real money into completing it, or simply letting it die… (ugh, I know…I had to do it)
|+ Original concept and design||– Repetitive environmental layout|
|+ Continuously engaging||– Impact that death has on game progression|
|+ Hours of gameplay||– Audio/Soundtrack|
|+ Free to Play|