Game Column: 'Let it Die does free-to-play

Game Column: 'Let it Die
 does free-to-play

CW / Jake Stevens

Video games tell all sorts of fantastical stories, from gritty war dramas to fantasy settings filled with dragons. No stories ever quite hit the same quirky wavelengths as those from Suda51.

His newest game, “Let It Die,” is a collaboration between his studio, Grasshopper Manufacture and GungHo Online Entertainment. The game is a free-to-play hack-and-slash action game that plays much like the “Souls” series of games, complete with parry moves and dodge rolling.

“Let It Die” is set in a futuristic arcade where you play a game with an enthusiastic friend known only as “Uncle Death.” He unveils the newest game system, the Death Drive 128, which comes with a mysterious game known simply as “Let It Die,” a virtual dungeon crawler with one objective – reach the top of a labyrinth-like structure known as the Tower of Barbs.

Getting to the top of the Tower of Barbs is no easy task. After creating your character, you’re dumped into a waiting room and introduced to just a few of the many systems “Let It Die” has packed within. From a mushroom-obsessed merchant that sells stickers and stews to increase stats to a bathroom where you store others’ fighters for hypnosis to have them join your side, there’s a lot going on within the Tower of Barbs before you even set foot on the first floor.

Upon entering the tower, everything right down to the clothes on your back must be scavenged if you want to survive. Equipment found in the tower comes with a caveat, however, as items looted from enemies are extremely low on durability.

By exploring the tower and fighting off traffic-cone-wearing fighters, you’ll pick up blueprints and crafting materials to aid in your battle up the tower. If you fall to an enemy, you’ll be sent back to a previous floor as another fighter, where your corpse will reanimate as a “Hater,” a fighter that roams around in others’ games to cause chaos.

Dying also presents the player with “Let It Die’s” free-to-play mechanic. After dying, an insurance saleswoman from hell appears, offering “a new chance at life.” By using tokens known as Death Metals, earned through daily login bonuses or through microtransactions, the Direct Hell service can revive you right where you died in the tower, with enemy health bars remaining at the same level you perished at.

This makes encounters such as boss fights easier, but the game’s overall difficulty can make Death Metals disappear easily as the game often overwhelms the player with enemies. Login bonuses will rarely give Death Metals, however, encouraging players to spend real money if they don’t want to lose progress. Currently, 10 Death Metals cost $4.99 in the Playstation Store.

Along with making it up the Tower of Barbs, you can also compete in a turf war against other states or nations to destroy the waiting rooms of other players. Crushing a base and stealing another player’s fighter is a satisfying experience, but it can quickly be ruined by the same player returning the favor by stealing them back.

“Let It Die” is a refreshing take on the free-to-play formula. While real-money systems are certainly in place, I never felt like they were necessary to enjoy the product as a whole and I enjoyed my time trying to make it up the mysterious Tower of Barbs.

The game is available for free as a Playstation 4 exclusive.

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