It’s Dark Souls meets early 90’s neo-futuristic anime. It’s a slap in the face followed by a kiss on the lips. It’s gross, it’s gritty, it’s niche, it’s a little confusing, but it’s aggressively playful and unapologetically original and just so punk rock–and unapologetic is really the best way to describe it.
Let It Die is, technically, an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), but nothing about it feels like anything you’ve likely seen before. This free-to-play, hack and slash dungeon crawler seems to be built on the literal bones of every MMO before it; necromanced into a fever dream of a game you won’t believe is real even as you’re playing it. Developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by GungHo Online Entertainment, Let It Die released on the PS4 back in 2016, and only recently hit the PC market in late 2018. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart, and it’s aware of its own insanity, but it never once apologizes for it. It’s a game that oozes personality, and blood–lots and lots of blood.
In terms of the gameplay itself, it’s fairly straightforward. In a world quite literally split apart by war, famine and absolute anarchy, a massive tower has sprung up seemingly out of nowhere. It’s called the Tower of Barbs, and it’s said that this tower holds the key to the future and that climbing the tower would bring you closer to God. Your player is simply (and pardon my language here) a cybernetic meat bag, which you control, and your only goal is to climb the Tower of Barbs and discover the secrets it holds. As you climb, you face increasingly difficult enemies and environments, as well as collect various throwable and consumable mushrooms, creatures, weapons and armor. The latter two degrading through combat and constantly needing replacement. You can also collect plans for making your own weapons, armor and consumables in the various shops.
These are all general staples of the genre, but where things get weird (again) is when you die. See, climbing the Tower of Barbs can be incredibly deadly-as you learn very early on. Thankfully, whenever you die, you have the opportunity to purchase Life Insurance. That’s right, you heard me: Life Insurance. This is essentially a revive of your current avatar and costs Death Coins, which can be earned or bought with real-world currency. Not purchasing this insurance, however, means that your avatar is now rogue, while carrying any weapons and armor they had been wearing at the time of their death. You’ll need to start from the bottom of the tower again with a new avatar, and if you run across your old avatar, you’ll need to defeat them to regain your lost stuff. You can then use your old avatar as something of an idle gatherer, sending them out on their own to kill enemies and collect resources while you climb the tower. Not many games allow you to send your dead body out on fetch quests.
All jokes aside, this game is brilliantly weird and comes highly recommended for anyone with an open mind and a love for 90’s anime cyberpunk nostalgia. It’s still free to play on PS4 and PC, and it’s certainly an experience. It’s so full of personality, and yet it’s so self-aware that it even makes fun of itself at times. If you’ve got a free weekend and are looking to broaden your horizons a little, go check it out. You won’t be disappointed. Though, you may be a little disgusted.
Sarah Nowack is a senior professional writing major who is minoring in graphic design. Her days are spent haunting the local library, consuming copious amounts of coffee, playing unpopular video games, and making terrible puns. She can be found at @battlerouge on Twitter and @shiverbound on Instagram.