Review in Progress: Let it Die

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Grasshopper is back

Well, how about that!

Let it Dieis out on PS4 right now, as revealed at the PSX conference earlier today. While some of us expected this free-to-play joint to be delayed it’s very real, and yes, it’s very Suda.

I mean, right at the start a grim reaper named Uncle Death rides up to you on a skateboard and calls you senpai. Good start!

Let it Die(PS4)Developer: Grasshopper ManufacturePublisher: GungHo Online EntertainmentReleased: December 3, 2016MSRP: Free-to-play

I’ve been keeping away from most of the updates for Let it Diebecause I wanted my first experience to be as fresh as possible. I mean after all, it’s best to go into anything Grasshopper/Suda related blind, as the unpredictability is part of the fun.

Yet, Let it Die‘s loop is pretty straightforward, despite its quirky cast and weird underworld setting.The idea is that players are creating an avatar to use in a series of beat-’em-up dungeons to reach the top of a tower. At first you’re basically naked, but you’ll earn loot and equipment by playing or paying, hence the free-to-play scheme. After you die enough to get a game over, your character lives on in the form of an invader of sorts, like the Souls series’ invaders meets Forza‘s Driveatars.

And invaders aren’t the only Soulsinfluence, as the “left/right hand” offensive system is in, as is roll dodging. It’s not nearly as fluid, especially at the start when your stamina is so painfully low that just several rolls will send you reeling, but it’s similar. Oh, and you can’t pause, so there’s that too. The controls are manageable outside of the odd touchpad inventory management (I really don’t like the pad in general, sorry Sony), which caused me to consume a healing item right in front of a dying stripper instead of passing it to her.

But while the combat isn’t as stylish as other Grasshopper games, I dig the survival aspect. Getting a new pair of pants is legitimately gratifying, and falls into the post-apocalyptic theme. You can tell that they spent a hellof a lot of time on just about every little detail. Let it Diehasrandom mascots that seem to have their own backstories, and each piece of gear looks like it was designed with care. There’s stuff like comically long revolvers like the one The Joker wields in the first Burton Batmanfilm, and magic mushroom consumables. Every spawn forces you to try new things rather than stay in one niche.

Calling the premium currency “Death Metal” doesn’t make it cool though. While the jury is still out on it, the in-game tutorial even asks you if you want to “climb the tower faster” or “play more efficiently,” which seems like a red flag. Expanding your storage and buying into a 30-day “premium pass” that grants you daily decals seems fine, but not if the items essentially buy you wins or act as cheat codes. Death Metals go from $4.99 for 10 to $99.99 for 280.

Right now Let it Dieis a clunky, butintriguing little thing. But I can’t shake the feeling that I’d much rather just pay a premium price to play without all the daily logins, special items, and subscription pop-ups.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game downloaded for free off the PSN.]