101 Ways to Die is to Die For

This week, we had a chance to play a bit of the physics based puzzler 101 Ways to Die. To be honest, expectations were low going in. At first glance, the game looks like a run-of-the-mill iteration of the genre, a mobile game for a quick buck. After spending a bit of time with the game,  however, we discovered it’s far from that and actually a lot of fun.

Think Lemmings.  Now, instead of trying to help the little green haired things, imagine that your aim was to end them in the most gruesome way possible. Yes, 101 Ways to Die is basically Reverse-Lemmings with added blood…and added spikes…and…uh…cannons, lava, harpoon guns, boulders, mines, spikey logs that swing and cake. Developed by Four Door Lemon, an indie developer with a long list of miniature sport and quiz games, 101 Ways to Die looks to be their first voyage into the world of puzzle games.

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“Reverse-Lemmings with added blood.” Yup.

The game sets you up as the recently hired assistant of a mad scientist who is hell-bent on revolutionizing warfare by rediscovering the fabled 101 Ways to Die. Your aim is to maim, dismember and ultimately kill the specially bred subjects called Splatts that are under your supervision.  Luring the Splatts to their demise can be achieved in a variety of ways.  From strategically placing goo on a slope for them to slide down, to putting cake somewhere you want them to stand for a bit.  You know, so you can drop a boulder on their face or something.  The actual method of destruction is where the variety really kicks in.  We didn’t get close in our time with the game, but there actually seems as though there might be 101 ways to go about the bloody business. Organizing a Splatt’s untimely end can involve the simplest methods, such as the aforementioned boulder to face. Alternatively, the player can turn to immensely complicated sequences involving giant fans and harpoons.  It’s these sequences that will garner the most points.  The more deathly implements involved in the expiration of a Splatt, the higher the points total. Gotta love them combos.

The game isn’t as dark as it sounds, or at least you get quickly desensitized.  We’ve never displayed any symptoms of psychopathy (that we know of) and yet we were meticulously and arranging our death traps with guilt free glee within a minute. Anyway, it’s for science! Also, the Splatts are ugly, so that’s totally okay, right?

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Careful planning is required to climb the leader boards.

As with many puzzlers, the game is spread over a number of sections, with different areas containing different equipment and strategies. Also, different types of Splatts come into play.  We encountered slower, tougher Splatts, along with weaker, faster ones. What we played had some nice variation in its level design. While that variation didn’t translate so much to the background and appearance of the levels, it was enough to keep us interested.

All in all, we enjoyed our little play with 101 Ways to Die.  It seems like it’ll be a fun little game that brings a new twist to the whole Lemmings thing. Just don’t get it for your kids.  Seriously.

101 Ways to Die is set to release on March 22 for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.