Back at the beginning of November I was given the opportunity to fly out to Los Angeles and do a hands-on preview of LET IT DIE, the upcoming free-to-play hack and slash from Grasshopper Manufacture. When it was originally announced I was intrigued to see where it would end up. As someone who is very much a fan of everything that Grasshopper has done thus-far, be it No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned, Lollipop Chainsaw or my personal favorite, Killer is Dead I was very excited to see more on this title.
First, before even touching on the game I have to point out how great the staff members of Grasshopper and GungHo were when I was out there. These are people that aren’t there just because it’s a job and they have some PR knowledge; these are passionate people that truly want to show you something they are proud of and love. A lot of heart and soul was poured into this game and that remained evident throughout my entire time there.
I sat down at the PS4 and put my headphones on to begin the opening sequence when a familiar voice came through the speaker, Mark Hamill. His somewhat joker-esque narration of the opening for the game was absolutely spot on. It was unique and unsettling and added a level to the intro that I think any other voice actor would have been hard pressed to pull off.
The game opens with some backstory for where you are and what is going on. It’s the year 2026 and intense seismic activity has caused the South-Western part of Tokyo to split off and move away to form its own island. Continues seismic activity caused a huge structure, the “Tower of Barbs” to rise up out of the island, this is the setting for LET IT DIE. You are greeted by Uncle Death, a trippy grim reaper on a skateboard with crazy glasses. He takes you through and shows you the ropes. You select a character or “fighter” and start learning the controls in the ground floor of the tower. The control scheme is simple to grasp, yet difficult to master. After explaining the controls you are thrust into combat in nothing but your underwear and your fists to defend yourself. It is quickly apparent that this is a kill or be killed world, and it is not forgiving if you hesitate. You must constantly be on guard and aggressive, retreat will often get you killed. The more aggressive you are in your attacks, the more “rage” you build up. Once you build enough rage (as indicated by a meter next to your health) you can unleash a super-powered rage attack that deals massive damage to your opponent. This is a vital mechanic and one that is very rewarding as you progress through the tower.
After making it through the first level and feeling accomplished, you are killed. This in not avoidable and will be what triggers your progression; the game is called “LET IT DIE” after all right? You wake up in an arcade sitting across from, you guessed it, Uncle Death. He explains that you are playing a state of the art video game called “LET IT DIE” and prompts you to return to the game world. After you do you are prompted to choose a new fighter and start from scratch. After doing so you head out into the world and are met by none other than fighter number 1, AKA yourself from the previous life. Your reanimated corpse proceeds to come to life and try to murder you. If you are able to fight him off and kill him again you are rewarded with extra gear and loot. This mechanic follows you as you play and pays off in some interesting ways that I will not spoil right now.
After learning the ropes you find your home base, an area you can use to travel back and forth from the game world to the arcade at will to collect quests and other extra items as you play. The base has a healing fountain and vendors for various gear and healing items. Speaking of healing items, this is a survival game, something that is very clear in how it plays. You heal by eating growing mushrooms (beware, some are poisonous) or eating various animals that scurry around such as frogs and rats. All of the weapons are weapons of opportunity, things you could expect to find in a subway or a construction site. There are your standard firearms and swords, but all must be either created or scavenged. This really is the definition of survival by any means.
Death is not the end, you can purchase life insurance that will pop up and offer to revive you after you are killed for a small fee. This is a free to play game with a microtransaction structure in place, so I will be interested to see how that plays out post-launch. As for the PvP, there is a base invading element that I was not able to go hands on with yet, but in theory it looks quite good. You invade another player’s base while they are away and steal their defenders and resources. There are systems in place so that you do not return after a few days off and find your base empty, but your stock may be a good bit lighter than you remember leaving it.
All of these elements come together to form what is without a doubt my most anticipated new IP that has come along in a long time. You can clearly see the passion for games in every detail of this one, from the story to the gameplay mechanics to just the world around you. I have not seen a team or met a director quite like Hideyuki Shin-San or the people of Grasshopper and GungHo. Hideyuki truly loves what he does and believes in his product and wants to show it to the world. I believe that is what fuels this Free-to-play model, he wants to get his game into the hands of as many people as possible so they can experience the art that he loves and pours himself into. If you were on the fence about LET IT DIE, let me push you to the right side. If I only had one game I could choose to get the rest of this year and next, it would be LET IT DIE.