Goichi Suda (“Suda51”) has a style all his own when it comes to his video games.
The titles tied to his name (Killer7, Lollipop Chainsaw, Shadows of the Damned, No More Heroes etc.) don’t stick to the tried and true concepts of most games. Instead, they deliver an entirely different type of experience that’s instantly recognizable and memorable. For fans of Dark Souls, his upcoming project (in conjunction with Grasshopper Manufacture and GungHo Online Entertainment) should appeal to their genre sensibilities. This free-to-play action thriller has the potential to deliver one of PS4’s last great gems of 2016.
After spending a few hours with a preview build of Let It Die (formerly known as Lily Bergamo), we now have a clearer understanding of what it has to offer.
1. Your Main Objective? Ascend to the Top of a Tower to Attain its Biggest Treasure
So the basic premise for Let It Die is as follows:
In the year 2026 AD, a large tectonic disturbance caused mass destruction around the world. In the midst of the destruction, South Western Tokyo split off into the ocean where the seismic activity caused a large spire to rise out of the ocean piercing the island creating a tower-like structure deemed holy by some. Rumor has it that a sacred treasure awaits at the top of the Tower of Barbs for those that survive the climb. Many dangers and mysteries remain hidden from the eyes of mankind and await those courageous enough to dare approach the tower.
The tower being alluded to in that official plot description is known as the “Tower of Barbs.” After creating your own character, you’ll hop off a speeding train and become quick buddies with your newfound mentor: Uncle Death. This skateboarding grim reaper with a hilariously awesome Mexican accent is one of the few allies you’ll come to trust in such a treacherous world. Everything you’ll learn from him and your near-death experiences will be compiled within your trusty “Underworld Rolodex.”
2. It’s a Game Within a Game
After you meet your unfortunate end for the first time, a 4th wall breaking curtain is lifted and a revelation smacks you dead in the face: you’re playing a video game within the confines of an arcade called the “Hated Arcade.” Uncle Death happens to the be the main dude who logs you in, plus there’s two other personalities tending to their own distractions inside the arcade.
One’s a pro gamer (Meijin) who’s advice is 2nd to none (his joystick skills are always on display) and a distracted girl (Naomi Detox) who stays behind the counter all day. She gets off on texting and complaining about her latest boy crush, but she’s still worth interacting with since it’s the only way you’ll activate quests. This arcade hub also lets you listen to the game’s incredible soundtrack, check out past videos and check your tower ascension progress.
Once you head back into the game itself (the “Official Death Drive 128”), you’ll first enter into a main location (the “Waiting Room”) that gives you a ton of things to do. This dark and dank underground locale is right at the “Bottom of the Barbs” train station. Here is where you’ll grab your daily log-in rewards, level up your characters, send out any of them to invade another player’s world, buy/cook mushrooms, deliver weapon blueprints etc. The main shopkeeper behind the “Mushroom Club” needs some saving before she’ll provide you with everything you desire (that’s a task that should be familiar to Souls series fans).
3. The Battle System is Dark Souls-ish, But It Does a Few Things Differently Than its Contemporary
If you’ve kept up with the gameplay trailers released for Let It Due thus far, you’ll notice the Dark/Demons’s Souls comparisons immediately when it comes to its battle system. Screamers are the vicious enemies you’ll strafe around and hopefully kill during your tough time within the tower. After killing your foes, you may get lucky enough and get your hands on a new piece of melee/ranged weaponry or protective gear.
For example, you’ll get to don some Buzzsaw Knuckles that tear your foes’ heads into mush and a Fireworks Launcher that can burn up anyone its been launched towards. The most devastating attacks that will make anyone wince in pain are the Rage Moves, which are different for every weapon. Getting your enemies into a groggy state means you can pull off some just as cool looking Goretastic special moves.
You can wield two one-handed weapons in both hands or choose to head into battle with a more powerful two-handed weapon. Of course, you’re going to need to upgrade a few of your character’s traits before you can begin using a piece of stronger gear. Speaking of character traits, Skill Decals play a huge part in making your character boost up their stats according to what that decal does.
These trait boosting decals are even visible right on your character’s back. When it comes to equipment types, you’ll come across includes Slashing, Blunt, Piercing, Fire, Lighting and Poison-powered weapons/firearms/armor. Continuously using a certain type of weapon will improve your weapon mastery of said item and give you new upgrades, such as a much higher attack power. All of these mechanics play a part in your survival, but you’ll also need to pay attention to your character’s stamina. In Let It Die, focusing on your character’s visible heart condition and listening to it beat faster are clear indicators of one’s condition.
4. There’s Definitely a Risk/Reward System at Play Here; Death Presents a Cool Opportunity for Your Fallen Fighter
There’s a lot of important mechanics at play when you’re alive and when you eventually meet you end. Killing Screamers results in you gaining the experience points needed to improve your avatar. Climbing to new floors via the end of level escalators is your end goal in most cases; sometime you’ll need to brave the new dangers brought on by some disgusting boss (The 1st one, Coen, is a pretty terrifying brute) before you can move upwards. Along the way, you’ll come across mushrooms and lil’ creatures that provide you with different types of stat alterations. You can go ahead and eat a specific type of any item (to get some health restoration, for instance) or keep it in your bag for later use.
If you’re the unlucky recipient of a life ending attack, then you have two choices to choose from: bring your current survivor back to life or head back to your hub location and begin anew. If you have a special amount of currency in hand (“Death Metal”), then you can pay the Direct Hell Insurance company for an immediate revival. This method lets you get your current character back with all their equipped gear and collected items intact. By the way, Death Metal can be used to climb into a special golden elevator that takes you to floors with some especially useful goodies.
If you don’t have enough Death Metal, then it’s back to square one: your deceased character goes right into a special holding container back at your base. You’ll get to craft an all new character and make another attempt at some tower ascending, but your past survivors aren’t lost forever. Dead avatars come back to life as your most worthy foes, “Haters.” Haters are easily identifiable since you made them and their name is outlined in orange. Other players’ Haters can pop up in your game and try to halt your progress (luckily, you can do the same thing to everyone else). “Haterfication” births these revived threats and killing them awards you with SPLithium. This fills the SPLithium Tank and gives you the currency needed to build your base into something better.
5. Suda51’s Influence Can Be Felt Throughout
After spending an hour or two with Let It Die, fans of Goichi “Suda 51” Suda’s past work will notice his influence on this latest project. The excellent soundtrack for instance reflects the type of tunes heard in past Suda51 works. Goichi tapped Akira Yamaoka (the musical mastermind behind Shadows of the Damned’s soundtrack) to curate the playlist for this new dungeon crawler.
This excerpt about Yamaoka and his work with Let It Die comes straight from the game’s official website:
Known for the Silent Hill series, Shadows of the Damned, and many other widely celebrated video games, Akira Yamaoka was the first to deliver a total horror game experience through disturbing tunes and unearthly sounds. Having worked as the Executive Producer and composer of the Silent Hill live action film, his later works expanded outside the gaming world, such as Japan major TV drama “The Rules of a Great Detective” and other various projects.
“It’s been such a great honor to work on the soundtrack for LET IT DIE. LET IT DIE provides a one-of-a-kind musical experience that challenges the interactive collaboration of video games and music. The soundtrack is compromised of many of today’s preeminent Japanese musicians from a wide variety of genres that I believe we are making history with.” – Akira Yamaoka
Let It Die’s zany cast, fear inducing soundtrack and penchant for gruesome action will remind you of exactly who’s behind this free-to-play take on the Souls formula.