19th Mar2016

’101 Ways to Die’ Review (PS4)

by Phil Wheat

101-ways-screen

One thing that’s really great about this current generation of consoles is the proliferation of indie games that have made their way to both the PS4 and Xbox One. Obviously it’ a trend started by the likes of the XBLA and Steam, but it’s only recently that there truly has been a huge wealth of indie titles available on Sony and Microsoft’s platforms. At the same time, what’s bad about this current generation of consoles is the glut of indie titles clogging up the online stores…

Let’s get one thing clear. Whilst it’s fantastic that developers get a chance to see their games on the latest consoles, it also means that gamers have to be a little more intelligent about their purchases. After all, not every indie game is a godd indie game. Thankfully 101 Ways to Die is a good indie game, in fact it’s a GREAT indie game.

Developed by 4 Door Lemon, 101 Ways to Die tells the story of mad scientist Ernst Splattenfuder, who has spent his entire life devoted to finding new and elaborate ways to bring about the end of life – hence the 101 Ways… of the title. Just as he completes his decades of work one of his creations – dubbed splats – drops a bomb and blows his work to smithereens. And this is where players of the game come in, 101 Ways to Die tasks gamers with rediscovering the titular death-tally in 101 levels of death defying creating physics-based puzzles.

Not that 101 Ways To Die really needs a plot. The developers could have just said their game was the antithesis of the classic game Lemmings, where being sadistic (because we all really loved to kill the lemmings rather than save them, right?) actually pays off!

And by the antithesis of Lemmings I mean that the core of 101 Ways To Die‘s gameplay involves players laying traps in order to kill Splattenfuder’s splats in the grisliest ways possible – using a combination of booby traps and environmental dangers – in order to earn stars. The more stars earned means more levels unlocked and more ridiculously OTT deaths for the splats and gamers hands… Those that have played Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess on the PS4 you’ll know exactly what to expect from this game!

Stylistically 101 Ways To Die looks a lot like something that has stepped out of the most-recent Abe’s Odysee title: grimy, dark and dank. Only with the added bonus of fiery pits of death, spike-filled walls and other nasty death-causing aesthetics. But hey, once you’ve killed a splat or two each level becomes that bit brighter thanks to the sanguine decoration that splats make upon dying!

If you can’t tell from the gruesome glee littered throughout this review, I had a LOT of fun playing 101 Ways To Die. However the game is not without it’s faults. Whilst there is plenty of fun to be had setting up traps and watching the devastion unfold, the game often insists you complete kills in a certain way to acheive the maximum amount of stars for that level. And without acheiveing at least 2+ stars for every level (3 being the max)  there’s no way to progress further into the game, making this something of a grind at times – it often feels the game is more about how the splats die rather than just the fact they do. Oh, and one small extra niggle. Resetting the level after you screw up should be easier than digging into the pause menu – if the Trials games can do it with the tough of a button this game certainly could.

For the most part 101 Ways To Die is a fun exercise in death and murder. Despite a couple of issues I had a lot of fun practising just how to murder people splats with booby traps. I just wish (and this might sound too sadistic) there was a little more freedom in the methods of death and the rewards…

101 Ways To Die is available on PS4 and Xbox One now.

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