Helping you through your journey is a cast of weird and wonderful characters. Your main guide is Uncle Death – a skateboarding skeleton with a fondness for sunglasses. Uncle Death is great, even though his interactions are limited. Having him call you “senpai,” and starting every letter sent with “It’s me!” even after multiple hours-in give him this comedic, carefree nature. He lends the game an irreverent feel, and something it sorely needs to contrast your gore-ridden escapades.
Adding another level of weirdness, is that it’s a game inside a game. You’re playing Let It Die on a machine in a neon-soaked arcade, with the ability to punch out and interact with its patrons. Among them is Uncle Death, but there’s also your disinterested high school student that acts as a quest-giver, and the self-obsessed fighting game freak who’ll give you the occasional gameplay tip.
At its core, Let It Die is a brawler featuring animation-heavy attacks. Players can mix up their combos using weapons in either their left or right hand. Dealing with enemies and reading your surroundings becomes a large part of the game’s challenge, with the only defensive tools at your disposal being a block and dodge. Governing all of this is an opaque stamina system; no meter or bar is visible. Instead you must rely on visual and aural cues from your character’s heartbeat. It lends all the fights a level of unpredictability, and is in keeping with the game’s fever-dream qualities.
One nod should be given to the game’s pop-punk music. Equal parts pulpy and trashy, it fits the game perfectly. Your treks throughout the Tower are accompanied by the stylings of Akira Yamaoka, better known for his work on the Silent Hill soundtracks. Industrial metal groaning is punctuated by synth drums, adding a level of unease.
Let It Die is inscrutable. It’s a black box, covered in punk-rock graffiti, and splattered in blood. It can be cruel and unforgiving, but also immeasurably satisfying. Minor technical faults put some dents on its surface, but Grasshopper’s free-to-play offering is a stylish, violent romp.