Cheap Thrills, Lack of Clothes Make Let It Die a Must-Play

A new title by Suda51 is akin to finding a lost gem of the slasher era. The '80s saw a proliferation of trashy fun entries like Pieces, Maniac, and so on—the kind of horror that only true fans of the genre seek out. For video games, Goichi Suda aka “Suda51” has created an all-new exploration for slashing & hacking… and always with his tongue firmly in cheek.

So it should come as no surprise to fans of No More Heroes and Lollipop Chainsaw that the latest from developer Grasshopper Manufacture sports a gleeful grim reaper wearing 3D glasses as its de facto mascot. Naturally, the game (at least, the demo) has more than enough "chainsaws while wearing underwear" moments to delight anyone of this admittedly small sub-genre.

A lower budget but wicked smart vibe is key to Suda51’s games. They rarely play in a pristinely polished manner and the visuals can feel murky, but that is, after all, part of the charm. A 3D shade-wearing specter was my guide as I trekked my way through a carnival. (He supplies helpful hints too.) Dressed only in my tighty-whities in the opening, I eventually got pants. Mutant beings approached and I only had my fists to fight back. Then I got a baseball bat and the fun began. I was told you could have two melee weapons for each hand but I only had the bat, which was plenty. The gameplay is similar to Lollipop Chainsaw, which is to say, timing is important, but encounters are never as punishing as fellow PS4 exclusive Bloodborne.

Once I died, an “Insurance Girl” appeared to offer continuing. That choice is important as Let It Die is only sort of roguelike. You only get three continues. After that, all items are lost. (All but the underwear.) I’m not sure if you can acquire more lives later in the game. I was told the tower that I was battling monsters in has randomly generated paths. When you die—which will be a lot—a version of me will (in the final version) pop up based on how you play and equipped with your gear. The bonus for “taking out” your old self is supposedly great loot. So that could be cool.

Peppered throughout the carnival of the damned are modern-day graffiti, ads, and such. These are the touches to our own pop-culture obsessed world that I tend to like about Suda51’s work. I’m still convinced that Juliet’s look and personality is based on Harley Quinn from Batman: The Animated Series. And now, Margot Robbie’s version in the upcoming Suicide Squad feels like an homage to Lollipop Chainsaw.

The demo ends with a boss fight creature that uses sound to toss human corpses. Luckily by then, I had a sword and a few grenades too. As a demo it definitely feels more open than No More Heroes, but still not as wide in scale as Lollipop Chainsaw. Though this was only a demo, I look forward to dying more and taking my cues from Death when Let It Die arrives on the PlayStation 4 in the fall.