I’ve got to be honest that there just hasn’t been a free-to-play game on the PS4 that’s managed to hold my attention. This has changed recently thanks to the launch of Let it Die - a free to play rogue-like dungeon crawler from Grasshopper studios and Suda 51 (the guy behind No More Heros).
It’s an utterly bizarre title, with interesting characters, unique mechanics and brutal gameplay to boot. Some comparisons have been made to Dark Souls, with the way the combat requires patience, timing and how punishing it is. The thing is, I really did not get on with Dark Souls at all. I hated it, in fact. So how come I’m enjoying Let it Die if the combat is so similar?
The fact is, to me Let it Die is a punishing title whilst Dark Souls is often simply unfair.
Let it Die (so far*) has ramped up the difficulty in a way that’s challenging but somewhat approachable. Let it Die’s structure is one that’s made of levels. Levels as in ‘floors’, with you going up a set of escalators to move on up the Tower of Barbs (where the game’s set). It’s a pretty obvious symbolic gesture of how you’re moving up through difficulty levels. On top of this, enemies will have their levels displayed above their head. There’s no excuse for getting in over your head, you know if you’re about to fight someone much tougher than you and you know that going up a level will mean an increase in difficulty.
So, each time you die, you take responsibility. Death is often the result of poor play or you simply getting greedy and not heading back to your base-camp. You went up a level too far or took on an enemy a level too high without spending time creating better armour or weapons. Shame on you.
Dark Souls, however, is full of cheap shots. It’s full of booby traps that you’d never knew existed until they kill you. Dark Souls has enemies that are ‘mimics’, meaning they look just like treasure chests until they then swallow you whole. How was you meant to know? The answer is, you weren’t.
On top of this, Let it Die has another ace up its sleeve. Let it Die will let you wriggle out of your mistakes - for a price. You see, Let it Die is a free to play game and it needs to make its money through microtransactions. One of the many ways you can spend your money is on ‘extra lives’. This may sound like a gross cash grab except the game gives so much entertainment and value and your deaths are never down to ‘cheap’ tricks unlike in Dark Souls.
Let it Die punishes you but never wastes your time, it instead wastes some of your small change (with your permission, of course). Dark Souls, however, hates you and your free time. It will happily kill you in a way which is unfair and it will cost you hours of progress.
Now, this could turn nasty. Like old-school arcade games designed to swallow your coins, Let it Die might turn into an insidious cash grab, throwing impossible to defeat enemies at you. At the moment, this is not the case and it’s an absolute blast. With every death I curse myself instead of the game. With every defeat I cough up some money to rescue my character and retreat home, ready to level up my character and upgrade my weapons.
Maybe it’s a personal preference but I’d rather have my wallet punished than my time unfairly wasted, which is why I’m getting on with Let it Die better than I ever did Dark Souls. *I say ‘so far’ because I’ve only gone through the first 8 levels of the game and currently have 3 lvl 25 characters. It’s still early days and with a game like this, that’s expected to receive many updates, things could change.