Price: Free (with micro-transactions)
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Let It Die was the most bizarre Christmas present I received last year: the design sensibilities of Dark Souls combined with Suda 51's trademark off-the-wall style and then packaged up as a free-to-play roguelike.
Get past the cloud of buzzwords, and the game doesn't get any simpler. The opening 15-minute tutorial manages to be a terrible tutorial that doesn't tell you a single thing about how to play the game, while also cramming in surreal elements like Death calling you senpai and whizzing around on a skateboard, eating frogs for health, and a variety of naked punch-outs with several monsters before someone brains you with an anti-material rifle.
Soon, you're alive again and being pointed towards your actual goal, the ascension of the Tower of Barbs, a tower filled with monsters that you'll need to scale for a reason I couldn't keep up with. Except you're actually doing this inside a video game, with trips to the hub at the base of the tower in-game also allowing you to leave the game — but in the game — and buy upgrades to improve your gaming experience in the game inside the game.
It's one of the most bizarre games to be released on the PS4 in recent years, with the first 10-15 hours a relative joy despite the game's slightly clunky combat and free-to-play leanings. Initially, it's hard to notice it's a free-to-play game at all, with Let It Die showering you with premium currency while it slowly explains how the game works, primarily as a roguelike, with you paying the game's premium currency to come back from the dead.
At first, it's an excellent system and my initial 10 hours with the game were chaotic but uniquely enjoyable. It's already been mentioned above, but the gameplay isn't dissimilar from the Souls series, mechanically, but thematically it's much more bizarre. Dark Souls never let me use a hot iron or a fireworks launcher as a weapon, for example. It's significantly clunkier than the game it takes its inspiration from, but it's similar enough — requiring you to recognise patterns and deliver righteous beatdowns while rolling away from attacks — while still offering enough new ideas and bizarre situations to pull you in.
One of the most enticing mechanics is the Haters system. Far from making you famous, Haters are the corpses of either your previous runs or those of your friends, cast loose into the world to try to mess up the day of other players. These fights are often challenging and, as they prioritise targets on your PlayStation friends list, a good way to screw with your friends. Take your own haters out, and you can put them back into your base, using them to play with later or sending them out to attack your friends on purpose, which somehow is even funnier than when they randomly show up.