At first glance, it may seem bizarre that something so simple would have the hooks that it does — take a character, level it up in a tower full of dystopian creepos, repeat — but it just goes to show that a solid gameplay loop and disciplined vision can go a lot further than the endless bells and whistles that a scope-crept triple-A budget can buy. To me, the heart of Let It Die is in making the steady, satisfying progress needed to climb the Tower of Barbs.
Items are constantly dropped by enemies, and there are so many different types that being unable to rely on a favored type forever gives Let It Die a fair bit of spice by forcing constant changes in approach. A machete has a long, safe attack range, while a butterfly knife requires players to be practically on top of their enemy to hit. The buzzsaw is slow and awkward, but if the full combo lands, it just chews through opponents’ faces. Considering the game’s apocalyptic style and how effectively it keeps combat fresh, it’s a great fit.
I also appreciate that Let It Die’s microtransactions are largely inoffensive. Essentially, the developers have given the entire game away for free and nothing is trapped behind a paywall. By putting no cash in, the game can be considered set to ‘hard’ mode, and it’s quite appropriate for those who like their roguelikes (semi- and otherwise) on the tough side. On the other hand, a few dollars here and there can be used to recover from an unfortunate death or to expand storage for items scavenged within the tower, easing the climb. All in all, it’s one of the fairest, smartest implementations of free-to-play that I’ve ever seen.
By now it should be clear that I’m a big, big fan of Let it Die, and my complaints are fairly minor. Apart from disagreeing with Darren on the postgame (most players will take far longer than he did to finish, so a lack of content after credits isn’t a common need at the moment) my only annoyance is that the items in a player’s storage can’t be sorted efficiently. Players quickly accumulate huge amounts of goods, and getting an accurate count of what’s in stock is done by counting one-by-one. Simple same-object grouping would solve the issue.
One of the highest compliments that can be paid to a free-to-play game is to say that it doesn’t feel like a free-to-play game, and that’s exactly the case with Let It Die. This nasty survival romp doesn’t cut corners and never holds a hand out, begging for cash… It just ollies onto the face of its enemies and invites players to come along for the ride.
As the skull-faced, skateboarding mascot of the game, Uncle Death, might say – Now that’s fucking entertaining!