Let it Die Proves Free to Play Doesn’t Have to Suck

GungHo Online Entertainment and Grasshopper Manufacture have combined forces to create a free to play hack and slash game.  Free to play is a term that makes me cringe as so many free to play games are so terrible they still manage to be overpriced, but being a fan of Grasshopper Manufacture’s games put me in a state of cognitive dissonance since it is combining something I like with something I hate.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this title, but after spending some time with the game and talking to the director, this is an ultra violent joy and with the asking price of nothing there is no excuse to not check this one out.

In the beginning your character is unarmed, wearing only his underwear and a gas mask.  He must work out since he was able to quickly dispatch his enemies with the use of his fists, and then scavenge their weapons, clothing, and armor.  This may not be typical of the play experience, but I had a helmet, jacket, and small arsenal of weapons before I encountered a pair of pants.  The visceral combat in Let it Die is truly a thing of beauty.  Finishing moves become available at times and these can only be described as poetry in motion.  Some of these included emptying a nail gun into someone’s face with only inches between us, another involved my enemy engaging in a make out session with an electric circular saw.  These are not to take away from dismembering someone with a katana, bludgeoning someone to death with a baseball bat, or pulling off a headshot with a gun that has the same result as Gallagher hitting a watermelon with a sledgehammer.

They say desperate times call for desperate measures, and that is the case here.  In addition to scavenging for weapons and armor, there is a shortage of life replenishing food.  Thankfully, Mr. Skivvies and Gasmask is a resourceful individual who does not have a discriminating palette.  Frogs, rats, and mushrooms can be collected and either eaten on the spot or saved for later.  Frogs and rats restore health, and mushrooms either increase an attribute or inflict poison, depending on the color.  Throwing poison mushrooms at enemies stuck behind gates is a grate (groan) why to watch them slowly die while you stand safely out of reach.

As is typical of Grasshopper Manufacture games, there is a constant dichotomy of over the top horrific violence with humor, mirth, and general sillyness.  The best representation of this is the character of Uncle Death, the skateboarding grim reaper who enjoys novelty glasses from the 1980’s, such as the red and blue 3D glasses or those X-ray specs that never quite delivered what you wanted them to.  I asked if he was influenced by the grim reaper in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.  While this is not an intentional homage to William Sadler’s amazing performance, it is not an inaccurate analogy.  I did defeat the demo’s boss, which was a very large grotesque mutilated man who was big enough to throw human corpses at me one handed.  The most difficult aspect of this fight was trying to kill him through all the laughter.


As I was playing the demo I was discussing the game with Hideyuki Shin, the director of Let it Die.  

[Hardcore Gamer]  One of the elements of Grasshopper Manufacture that makes them so memorable is the emphasis on the story.  Will that be the case with Let it Die?

[Hideyuki Shin]  There is a story, but it will not be as story driven as other Grasshopper Manufacture games.  The emphasis of Let it Die is more on the gameplay, where the player will ascend the tower and encounter bigger bosses to fight.  Even though there is less emphasis on the story, fans of previous games will enjoy the story element of Let it Die.

Uncle Death seems like an interesting character.  What can you tell me about his role in the game?

Uncle Death serves as the story teller, and also as the guide.  We are not going to reveal too much information about him at this time, but throughout the game his role in this becomes more clear.

He kind of reminds me of the grim reaper from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.

(laughs) No, that was not intentional, but that is probably the best analogy we have heard all weekend at PAX.

Something that impressed me about this game is how you were able to get over 100 bands to contribute to the soundtrack.  With the exception of a few like Malice Mizer or Dir en Grey, Japanese bands are not the most accessible or easy to find in the States.  It is almost as if Let it Die has a secondary function as serving as a Japanese industrial metal music sampler.

(laughs) We like that you get what we were trying to do.  The soundtrack was put together by Akira Yamaoka, who believes that sound design as a whole is very important.  Incorporating more mainstream music into games instead of just traditional video game music was important to him, and you could say getting these bands exposure to a wider audience was one of the goals.

Free to play games have a stigma attached to them that is not entirely undeserved.  From playing this demo, Let it Die seems more of the quality of a retail game than free to play.  What separates this from other free to play games?

We wanted this to be up to the same quality standard as other Grasshopper Manufacture games.  We are aware of the free to play stigma and do not want Let it Die to be viewed in the same light as many of those free to play titles.  Let it Die can be experienced in totality without ever having to spend a cent on it, and can be done so for free without any loss of quality.

Will there be any micro transactions in Let it Die?

Yes, but not purchasing any of them will not negatively impact the experience.  Micro transactions will be things like speeding up weapon making time.  They exist but are one hundred percent optional, they may speed up some of the grinding in weapon making but we want to make sure that everyone can enjoy every aspect of Let it Die without having to spend any money.

Let it Die is free to play online, does it have a multiplayer component?

Not in the traditional sense.  It does have some unique elements where there is some overlap between the players.  One of these is “death data.”  When a player dies, their data is uploaded and they can appear as a powerful foe in someone else’s game. 

So I couldn’t go into a friend’s game to battle them, but it is possible an AI spectral remnant of my character could encounter them to fight?


Let it Die
currently does not have a definite release date but the goal is for 2016.  The claim of this being a free-to-play title that is of the same quality of a retail title is a bold one to make, but based on the interview and more importantly hands on time with the demo this looks to be a truthful statement.  Let it Die is a PlayStation 4 exclusive and I encourage anyone who is a fan of Suda51 or violent action games to give this title a try.  With the low price of nothing, there is nothing to lose.