Let it Die Review – Polished Suda51

Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture have become notable icons in the videogame world, with their insane scenarios and characters littered across the gaming landscape for the last decade. Much of the focus is directed on a wide range of deeply involved and unique characters in most of Grasshopper Manufacture’s games, but this time around, they choose to focus in, hard, on the player and other players exploring the world of Let it Die and the tower of Barbs. So how did it do?

Let it Die
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: GungHo Online Entertainment Inc
Platform: Playstation 4
Release Date: December 3, 2016
Players: 1 with online elements.
MSRP: Free to play

This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.

The art style of Let it Die sets the tone right away with its thematically dark, brutal, but very vibrant look. This is a game that knows it’s a game, which is reflected in the visuals and gameplay. Every weapon and enemy screams Grasshopper Manufacture but at the same time is quite the different beast in most aspects of its art direction; which gives a sense of familiarity while being new.

Enemy types range from mutilated corpses left over from rampant war repurposed into weapons, enemy player data (which we’ll cover in a bit), and fallen treasure seekers that have been zombified by the 4 Dons of the Tower of Barbs. Every 10 levels you get a thematic shift as well as an increase in difficulty that make you switch up the way you play.

One of the more enjoyable things about the game art is just how interesting and weird Dons and mini bosses can be and how you are introduced to them. Throughout the games you can find 1950’s styled comic pages called “Tales from the Barbs” that explain the back stories of the Dons of that corresponding block, and the stories and oddities they bring do not disappoint. Mini bosses on the other hand will usually be explained with a Mother Barbs video, using aesthetic memes as a base for style and finishing it off with a black and white nightmare fueled fever dream. You know, typical Suda51 stuff.

The game’s central gameplay revolves around 3rd person combat in which players can equip a weapon in each hand. These weapons can be crafted or found in the player’s journey to the top of the Tower of Barbs. Let it Die has many similar traits to that of roguelike games, but without any of the really damning repercussions roguelike games tend to have.

If you die you can buy a new fighter or get one of the starting free fighters, battle your way up to your body to reclaim your items, or earn enough coin to have your fighter retrieved or salvaged for you. You can also use one of the “pay” elements to revive your character right then and there.

The reason why I quoted the word pay was to emphasize that while you could, I found no reason to do this, and in fact bought some pay currency after just to give the dev team some money for giving this great game to us for free. If you play this game like a Souls game, you should have no problem going through the game without a major incident or need to pay money. This has to be one of the first free to play games that I have played that feels like a $60 title.

On top of being a completely competent game with great combat, there is a whole lot of collecting and exploring you can do. The map is huge, and has many different areas to explore. However, at times the tower feels like it does not change much over the course of the 40 floors, only really changing up about 4 times, every 10 levels.

There has to be a special note added here about how the game prepares you for boss fights, because when a game does it well, it should be noted. In the game there are four mini bosses that the game points out in detail, giving them their own intros, as well as special videos in the Mother Barb’s videos. These mini bosses set you up to learn how the main boss battles will go down, giving you a routine of attacks and attack types while throwing in their own unique abilities.

One of the biggest aspect of the general game is the online component, which behaves in a really unique way.

Player data is stored online and is highly detailed: everything you pick up on that floor, enemies encountered, even the path you walked are logged. This data can become a type of player hunting minion, and let’s say you die in a particular spot, your reanimated body can randomly attack other players on that floor giving you rewards for every player they killed.

The second online component that is a lot of fun is raids. Players can choose a state or country to be a part of as a team, then build up their waiting room with fighters they have leveled and geared as a defense against other players. After this has been set up, they player can go out on raids.

From here they can attack other player waiting rooms, nabbing a small portion of a player’s coin and in some cases getting a chance to kidnap the other players fighters, which they can hold for ransom. The key thing here is that the damage done to the other player is not so great that you would totally cripple them, and not so little that you would just not defend yourself, so raiding can become a fun aspect that really has no malice behind it.

Music is one huge focus that players might skip over. For someone like me who really enjoys the work of Akira Yamaoka and the bands he hand picked to be apart of the soundtrack, traveling through the Tower will be a wonderful thematic journey, for others it will just be background music.

For those that drown out the background music, they will be putting themselves at a severe disadvantage as music can give you an idea if you are about to be attacked once you get the feel for it. One thing that was a missed opportunity was is the lack of a music control in your waiting room, as it would have been nice to control what invaders heard, and what you hear as well, as the music library has 100 plus bands involved with it.

General sound design is very arcade-ish, but is offset by characters audible grunts while they attack, which is all done rather well, but one of the standouts is the fun voice acting they chose for the characters of the world. Uncle Death and Meijin tend to have some humorous one liners and a voice to match, it’s just a shame they don’t give them more dialogue to interact with.

As with most Suda 51 games, the story is anything but conventional, which adds to its charm. While the player is given a basic intro to the Tower of Barbs, it is a game that is meant to feel like a game from a dystopian future, right down to the Hater Arcade in which your character is presumably sitting playing Let it Die in the arcade.

The main character of the story is not the player, it’s the Tower itself and those that reside within it. As stated above, you have multiple ways of getting information about the world and story via Mother Barbs videos, 1950s style comics, the levels themselves, items you collect, as well as interactions you have throughout the tower.

This does have its ups and downs. On the upside, you can experience the story at your own pace, while the game gives you an incentive to explore the tower. On the downside, the story can feel light as there is a lot of gameplay between any sort of exposition, which is something that many fans of Suda51 and Grasshopper Manufacture expect out of their games.

The game is open ended and does allow room for expansion, which realistically the game does not need, but would be a whole hell of a lot of fun to have.

Let it die is a game for gamers; self referential, challenging, while being extremely fair in all aspects of the gameplay. While being a free to play game, it 100% does not feel like a free to play game. With tones to explore, collect, craft, and kill, there is a whole lot of game here to be had, and the fact that it is free makes it a must download.

Let it Die was reviewed on Playstation 4 using a free download on the Playstation Store. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 10

Reviewers Game of the Year.

The Good:

  • The experience of a retail title while being free.
  • Great gameplay and control.
  • Unique world with lots to explore.
  • Great soundtrack and use of music.

The Bad:

  • Some areas can look repetitive.
  • Large gaps between exposition.

FEATURED GAME

  • NuclearCherries

    Happy new year comments.

    Good pick for GOTY Michael. Mine was Trails of Cold Steel.

    I’d gladly pay money for Let it Die. I don’t think the microtransaction system works for the game.

  • Kaijuu

    Interesting pick for Game of the Year, but I can see the amount of love Suda51 gave it. By far one of this year’s best soundtracks and overall design is fantastic. Couldn’t stand the progression system though, felt too reliant on players forking over money for F2P microtransactions for basic quality of life features that I would’ve rather just purchased the game proper to have unlimited access to.

  • Chocolate ISISCream

    My 2016 GOTY tbh.

  • chaoguy

    I loath that PSN isn’t free, but if I had a PS4, is this game worth the monthly fee alone?

  • RetroGamer

    Whoa! Wasn’t expecting a free-to-play game to score that high. It’s time to make some space on my hard drive and give this a whirl.

  • Its $60 a year for psn, and you get free games monthly, so i would say PSN alone is worth it

  • Ramirez

    You don’t need to pay for PS+/PSN for this game, it’s totally free to download, even the multiplayer aspect.

  • Uncle Slick

    Just got my PS4 for Hanukkah and found this game.

    One of the best games I’ve ever played, and it’s FREE.

  • Uncle Slick

    Worth every GB, you’ll love it.

  • Eldhin Hellknight

    The problem is that, sometimes, those free games do not worth, like the ones from November and December (not bad games, but those are not good enough to justify the montly sub)

  • Lucky

    I know nothing about the game, but it is a damn shame that it’s free-to-play, since as far as we know in less than a decade the servers might shut down and no one will be able to play it again.

  • Heresy Hammer

    Just a shitty practice that needs to fuck off.

  • Mr0303

    I’m not a fan of Suda51 and F2P games are something I rarely try, so I’ll probably skip this one.

  • Superscooter

    The game is really fun man but I think a 10/10 is crazy generous.

  • Nagato

    Been looking up this game recently and it really does look pretty great;it’s the first time this gen where I feel I’m missing out on a good game by having gone PC only.

  • Nagato

    Glad you finally found yourself a true exclusive to enjoy, bae. ^^

    Also, happy new year and all that jazz~

  • Chocolate ISISCream

    y-you too

  • Llama Adventure

    Haters are an interesting concept in theory, but in practice they all but ruin the game for me once you get into the second tier of floors and everyone has machetes.

    Imagine if you were playing Dark Souls and you got invaded every five minutes by a Giantdad build and not even staying Hollow can keep them at bay.

  • Quexlaw

    Eh, this might interest the reviewer:
    The music in your waiting room CAN be controlled by going into the arcade. There is a radio which you can control to change tracks. This does not change the tracks while travelling in the tower though.

  • Eliah Wood

    I’ve been playing it since about an hour after it dropped. I would have played it because it was a Suda 51 game, but strangley I can’t put it down. I haven’t paid for anything, not that I would not. It’s hard, brutal, it has flaws but it’s actually pretty fun. Don’t get me wrong, there are cheap attacks out of nowhere, people falling literally from the ceiling out of nowhere, the Haters can pull off some insane things leaving you wondering how you died to a low level walking corpse. While I plan to serve the people who keep sending characters after me ( aka Hunters) , as appetizers to my local alligators it adds something to the game. I thought I would be over this quickly but I really hope they manage to keep up with this game. No I Never played a Souls game. But whether they compare or not, I’ll stick with LiD!

  • Kiryu

    Not my cup of tea,i tried and deleted it half an hour after.

  • Lea Pastillaroja
  • Hutson

    Btw, you can change the music you’re listening to. Just go to the radio in the arcade.

  • I almost got a little chocked up seeing this exchange, happy new year you two

  • Thanks for the heads up, last time i fucked with it, it only turned it off.

  • Ya some one said that above as well. Thanks for letting me know.

  • ya but you can just work around them, and there is only 1 per floor.

  • Llama Adventure

    There are a few instances where you can bypass a Hater fight entirely, but those are few and far between and can easily be ruined by said Hater suddenly getting in a fight with some Screamers and then spotting you out of the corner of their eye and instantly aggroing. And only twice have I been able to shake a Hater once they spotted me without running halfway through the stage in a desperate dash to the nearest escalator and possibly aggroing another half-dozen enemies along the way. Hell, one time I had a Hater spawn right within aggro range as soon as I got off the elevator, and there’s one floor where you’re guaranteed to get mobbed by at least 2 enemies and a Hater right off the escalator if you enter it from the floor above.

  • Meittimies

    Fun fact: I was born in the same city as Jukka Hilden and I drank beer with him in Provincerock festival in Seinäjoki somewhere in early 2000’s. So I’ve shared beers with Uncle Death. Its a small world indeed.

  • Yaminoari

    Oh no you expect so much quality out of a sub that is 1/3rd the price of FF14 monthly price i’d rather take 3 months of Ps+ over 1 month of FF14

    On top of that I get Discounts on games on psn store as opposed to having only 1 game to play

  • PixelBuff

    This is one of my favorite games of the year too, I tried it on a whim and have probably logged 90, 100 hours. I enjoy it far more than Souls games.

    Although, I found there is a steep increase in difficulty once you pass the floor 20 boss and start exploring the 21, 22, 23 floors; Even though I have a 3-Star tier dude with maxed out stats I’m still getting 1 shotted by Haters, and 2, 3 shotted by regular dudes. It becomes a case of having to stun-lock guys and pray for the best. Taking on 2 or more guys is essentially a death wish. I have to fish them out 1 by 1 and pray they don’t land a hit on me. I really need to unlock the 4-Star guys (I don’t know when they unlock), or level the hell out of my equipment because this is too rough.

  • chaoguy

    YOOOOOOOOOO
    That’s actually really fucking good.
    Damn, might actually get around to supporting Sony when they stop being a colossal fuck-up.

  • hachifusa

    instant download

  • におに

    Someone tell me when they let you switch to Japanese Audio, in this game that takes place in Japan, has Japanese Characters, in a Japanese Arcade, with Japanese Radio Stations in the background, but for some reason every one is speaking English.

  • Fenrir007

    Honestly, compared to the monthly selection of games available on the Xbox Live (especially considering the backwards compatibility), the PSN+ is a joke.

  • AWOOOO

    Fucking hell, why won’t those cunts port this game to pc?!

  • AR7777

    Finally downloaded enough of this game to start playing it and I can’t stop.

    It’s incredible this is a free game, it’s worth $60 easily.

    The art is impressive, the music is cool, it has lots of interesting mechanics.

    I love the frog sounds lol “mmm? Kero kero”

    The only negative aspect is the voice audio, it feels like such a missed opportunity to be unable to have japanese audio on this.
    I’m considering making a japanese psn account to get it in Japanese for the audio

  • Yaminoari

    So lords of the Fallen Resident Evil and Transformers Devastation is a joke ok got it