Tag Archive: Grasshopper Manufacture


When I previewed Let It Die—a PS4-exclusive, free-to-play, hack ‘n’ slash rougelike from the twisted minds at Grasshopper Manufacture—for the first time back in April, it was a rough demo that conveyed some interesting ideas and mechanics, but left a lot to be desired. Many of the systems that would really drive home what this unique experience was meant to be were still absent then, and left me hanging onto promises of great things more than any tangible evidence that this experience could be special. After getting to go hands-on recently with a more complete version of the game, though, I can testify that Let It Die might be gaming’s new roguelike craze. To help give you a sense of the insanity this game wants to bring to the PS4, here’s a video of my first hour playing the game, uninterrupted aside for some menu traversal and load screens cut for the sake of time.

LetItDieHeader

Whenever I hear Suda51 is working on a new game, my ears immediately perk up. Since he made his North American debut with Killer7, I’ve always at least been curious to see what zany scenario he can come up with next. Some of them I’ve been absolutely enamored with, like No More Heroes; others have missed their mark with me, like Killer is Dead. But no matter what, if Suda is attached to it, I got to try it out. So, naturally, when the chance came up to try out Let It Die, I was all for it.

Let It Die is a free-to-play third-person action-RPG exclusive for the PS4. In it, players will have to work their way through what can only be described as a waking nightmare, fighting horrific creatures in twisted environments. In the demo I got to play, I specifically had to navigate what looked like a macabre carnival on the outskirts of a city before finally finding myself in a tunnel system filled even more grotesque horrors.

Some of the enemies were simple enough—mostly just other humans like my character, but they were sadists getting off on the carnage and mayhem around us. Many would try to use their bare fists, but some carried weapons ranging from clubs and bats to nail guns and shotguns. If I was lucky, I’d be able to loot their carcasses for their weapons that I could assign to one of six weapon slots (three for each hand, with two-handed weapons taking up a slot on each side).

BirdcageTubers640

Some enemies also wore armor for various body parts that I could also collect and customize my character with. On one play through of the short demo, I had a gas mask and a leather vest on, but no pants. In another, I was able to confiscate jeans with kneepads, but was left bare-chested. Longer playthroughs that go deeper into the game would surely warrant more impressive gear.

There were also enemies floating around that looked completely otherworldly. One creature had a birdcage for a head and long, forked claws protruding from the end of each arm. Moving through the tunnels, I finally came upon the boss: a monstrous creature comprised entirely out of dead bodies, conjoined by a seething hatred for the living. Its charging attacks were not to be taken lightly, but more serious was its habit to rip human limbs off its form and chuck them at me as projectiles. Yup, definitely a Suda game.

Fortunately, I could use the environment to my advantage, finding small animals like frogs and rats to eat in order to replenish health, or mushrooms that gave special boosts to attack and defense. There were also some “grenade” mushrooms that would explode if I tried to eat them, though, so I had to be careful.

Besides the weapons I could find scattered about, my character also had some basic melee attacks. Punches, kicks, and running dropkicks could keep the more difficult enemies off of me for long enough to find better items, but I needed to be careful that my stamina meter wouldn’t run out, as doing so would render my character near useless until they caught their breath.

RagePunch640

Beyond the dark and twisted design of the world and enemies, you might think Let It Die sounds like a pretty straightforward action-RPG. There’s a leveling-up system that we didn’t get to see in action, and there’s still no talk of exactly how monetization will work in the game. There’s one additional significant twist that makes Let It Die unique, however.

When players die in Let It Die, their characters and loadouts are placed into other players’ games, becoming new enemies for people to fight and new loot for them to possibly collect. This cycle of death and rebirth is an interesting concept, as while you might be playing by yourself at any given moments, a half-dozen clones of you from different levels could be out there invading other games and wreaking havoc. It’s a two-way street, of course, because as was proven to us when one of the Grasshopper Manufacture devs suddenly popped into my game, seeing a human-controlled face isn’t necessarily a good thing in Let It Die.

Let It Die still has some big question marks circling around it, especially if it’s still going to drop in 2016 as is currently planned. What I saw in my brief time with the game is a solid core for Suda51’s latest twisted vision of a tried-and-true game genre. Whether there is a market for a F2P action-RPG exclusive to the PS4 of this style is yet to be seen—but, at the very least, I can confirm at this moment that Let It Die is far from dead.

CriticalHit640

Everybody gets to go to the moon

I’ll readily admit to being a Suda51 fan. Some may consider his games to be niche fare that fails to live up to its potential, but usually, there’s something about his typically zany ideas that draws me in. Whether it’s taking control of a schizophrenic hitman, a lightsaber-wielding assassin wannabe, or a chainsaw-toting cheerleader, I’m definitely a Suda guy. So, it’s no surprise that I was looking forward to his latest, Killer Is Dead.

Normally in a review, I’d give a brief synopsis of the basic plot before talking about some of the game’s weak and strong points—character development, pacing, that kind of stuff. As games have gotten more and more cinematic and story complexity has evolved, narrative has definitely become a focal point for me when it comes to reviews.

But I’m going to be completely honest with you here, folks. Killer Is Dead left me confused, bewildered, and, worst of all, frustrated and wholly unsatisfied, to the point where I’m not even sure what I played—or that I could properly describe it.

The basic gist of what I was able to decipher is that you play as a man named Mondo Zappa. He’s another assassin in the typical Suda style, and he travels to fantastical locationsincluding the moonin order to track down his targets. Everything after that gets kinda hazy.

I’ll put it this way. If you couldn’t stomach Suda before, forget itKiller Is Dead isn’t going to change your outlook on the man. But even if you’re like me and appreciate his special brand of insanity, this might be the point where you finally lose your patience with his wacked-out concepts.

Aside from the terrible plot, much of the side content left me wanting as well. Sure, some challenge missions add to the gameplay variety as you race against the clock or take down certain foes in a field of baddies. But the “courtship” minigame is nothing more than a tacky, half-baked idea that somehow wormed its way into the final product.

Not only do these segmentswhich revolve around staring at the clothed bosom and crotch areas of random girls in the hopes of then bringing them to bedfeel pointless, but they even cross the line for me and feel a little degrading and insulting. And this is coming from a guy who loved Travis Touchdown’s blatantly perverted flirtations with Sylvia Christel in No More Heroes! My bar’s set pretty low on the politically-correct front, but this was still a bit much, even for me.

Despite the shoddy story and lewd minigames, there’s still a silver lining to Killer Is Dead: It feels like Suda’s finally honed his hack-n-slash gameplay to the point where it’s now quite enjoyable. You can smoothly mix in Mondo’s arm cannon mid-battle, and a blood meter allows for special executions. Meanwhile, some foes require balancing normal attacks with parries and counters, which prevents Killer Is Dead from devolving into a mindless button-masher.

The combat also includes some RPG elements. Mondo can learn new assassination moves, level up his abilities, or unlock additional mechanisms in the arm cannon. While most of the cannon’s extra moves aren’t necessary beyond the standard machine-gun mode you start the game with, the dash abilities and health regeneration become vital as you move through the various missions.

It’s just a shame that, outside of the enjoyable core combat, Killer Is Dead is such a mess. The plot’s incomprehensible, while the boss battles lack the memorability of past Suda games. The visual style is a beautiful evolution of what he’s done before, but I’d rather listen to a stray cat’s starving mewl in the middle of the night than endure any more of the inane voice acting and dialogue found here. Some of the content feels tacked on and unnecessary, even though the game clocks in at a mere six hours on Normal difficulty.

As much as Suda fans may want to like Killer Is Dead, this may finally be the game where the over-the-top antics are just too mucheven for them.

Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture • Publisher: XSEED • ESRB: M – Mature • Release: 08.27.2013
6.0

The decent core combat can’t hide the fact that this is Suda51’s most ridiculous, nonsensical plot yet, and an offensive “courtship” minigame is a further black mark on the proceedings. This one may even turn off Suda’s most hardcore fans.

The Good The most rewarding combat ever seen from Suda51.
The Bad If you thought Suda’s stories were convoluted before, Killer Is Dead redefines that idea.
The Ugly 100-foot-tall, mutated scientists. Yep. I just typed that in a legit review.
Killer is Dead is available on Xbox 360 and PS3. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.