Coming from the mind of Goichi Suda (aka “Suda51”), there’s certainly a wonderful degree of insanity and the bizarre to expect from his projects, ranging from Killer 7 to No More Heroes, and his most recent project Killer is Dead in 2013.
However, at E3 2014 we got our first glimpse at his and developer Grasshopper Manufacture’s new project, Let It Die, which was unveiled as a PS4-exclusive and featured a bizarre, grungy aesthetic with all the flair and brutality one might expect from his previous games.
Since the game’s reveal two years ago, new details on Let It Die have been kept fairly quiet until recently, when the game was confirmed to be releasing later this year on PS4, and on top of that, a hands-on demo of the game was made available to play during last weekend’s PAX East 2016.
During our time at PAX East, we got the chance to get hands-on with Let It Die for the first time, which brings a bizarre, twisted vision of the end of the world in a free-to-play action brawler. With a dash of survival and roguelike elements mixed with a style that belongs (uniquely) to Suda51, Let It Die is already as weird and cool as what we saw in its first initial trailers, and yet the demo still provided us with just as many questions as there were answers.
Featuring encounters against dark, brutal enemies, Let It Die takes shape as an action brawler that bears some heavy influence and similarities to both survival and roguelike games. Trapped inside a weird, twisted carnivalesque world covered in trash and oddities, players will start out as a character with only underpants and bare knuckles to defend themselves. From there, players will have to use their wits and strategy to carefully defeat enemies and find loot, such as new weapons and armor (or even pants!) to equip their character and help them survive just a bit longer out in the world.
The most immediate comparisons I could make with Let It Die was to Dark Souls, as players explored the world to uncover secrets, find loot, and approach combat against enemies using strategy and precision, rather than brute force. Even from just our brief session with the game, Let It Die certainly requires more precise combat decisions than a hack ‘n slash or beat ‘um up.
However, Let It Die also establishes itself as a game that clearly requires people to think about survival, as players will have to monitor their character’s health and status carefully, to avoid them getting sick, sustaining injuries, or even worse. Throughout the level I explored, hopping frogs in the environment could be stomped on and grabbed as access to food to sustain my character and restore health, while various mushrooms and other plants could be used against enemies (but if ingested, could have dire effects on my character). Maybe even more disturbingly, I came quite close to being able to eat a grenade, which both Suda51 and his assistants clearly advised me against in my demo.
At the same time, Let It Die also seems to give the player plenty of options to experiment with in both their weapon selections and gear, to make surviving just a little bit more manageable (but only a little). Players get six weapon slots to play around with and can equip up to two weapons at a time, with the weapon options and equipment ranging from melee-oriented handheld saws and giant axes, to explosives and ranged weapons to help take enemies out from a distance.
Where Let It Die relies heavily on survival and having players explore the environment to keep their character alive, procedural generation and roguelike elements also will come into effect as players only have a limited number of lives before completely starting over from scratch, as a weary, fresh survivor with only their underwear and bare knuckles to fight with.
As players of roguelike games like Rogue Legacy, The Binding of Isaac, and others should expect, Let It Die will feature procedurally-generated levels and environments to ensure that each playthrough will offer something new and different, and to keep players on their toes. Aside from just the level layout and enemy placements changing, that also includes some other surprises that clearly seem to be in store, such as the generation of “ghost enemies” based on fallen player characters that are stronger and more difficult to take down (but offer higher reward and loot in exchange).
During my first few minutes with the game, it was clear that Let It Die was going to be a challenge with enemies that took quite a few hits to fell (and hit back at me with brutal force). Though in the same way that Dark Souls tends to reward players through punishment, Let It Die also seems to provide a similar approach as my few Game Overs taught me the wrong (and right) ways to approach fighting enemies and being to read how they fight and dodged my attacks.
By the end of the demo, where I had to encounter a hulking behemoth that threw dead bodies off its back at me, I had a pretty firm grasp on the game’s controls and play style, and even managed to defeat the boss to earn a Let It Die pin (and a high five from Suda51 himself). However, that doesn’t mean Let It Die will get any easier — even in the boss fight I got through nearly on the skin of my teeth with just a few hit points left. Where Let It Die clearly is going to put players through the ropes, it still provided a tense, rewarding experience of exploring its dark, twisted world, with a mix of horror and black comedy that could only come from someone with such a weird, unique vision as Suda51.
Having been in the audience when the game was first shown in its reveal trailer at E3 2014, Let It Die has always been a title that I’ve been curious about, even with a style that pretty much guarantees it’s going to be a brutal, bloody experience. However, with a demo of the game under our belts and a release window of later this year, our time with Let It Die showed that it’s just as wonderfully weird and cool as what we saw in the first glimpses of the game two years ago, and now more than ever I’m curious to see what else is hiding in this dark, twisted world – even if death is waiting on the other side.
Let It Die will release for PS4 in 2016.
For more information on Let It Die, you can check out our full interview with game director Goichi Suda (aka “Suda51”) from PAX East 2016.