101 Ways to Die Review
It’s not about killing; it’s about killing with style!
101 Ways to Die is a cartoon style puzzler about killing enemies in the most stylish way possible.
Developed by Indie game studio Four Door Lemon, 101 Ways to Die was originally started in 2012 but put on the back burner until 2014 while the developers worked on other projects at the same time. Now though, this humorous (and gory) physics based puzzler has been completed and released on Xbox One.
You play the assistant of an evil eccentric scientist called Dr. Splattunfuder who spent his life creating a book describing, in gory detail, the best 101 ways to dispatch his enemies. In his laboratory in the catacombs beneath his family estate Splattunfuder created the “Frankensplatts” – or “Splatts” for short. These creatures serve only one purpose; to be killed in every way possible.
Unfortunately, Splattunfuder’s life’s work was lost when a Splatt dropped a live bomb in the lab, destroying the book. That’s where you, the player, comes in. You are the assistant called in from a temp company to help the Dr rebuild his recipe for murder, piecing together fragments of the book and twisting every neuron in your brain to concoct the most gruesome deaths for the unfortunate Splatts.
Even though you may love the challenge of a puzzle game you may never have experienced a puzzler quite like this. Gamers with long memories (or a retro bent) will know of Lemmings – the 1991 DMA Design blockbuster that charged you with preventing hapless lemmings from plunging to their deaths. Replace ‘lemmings’ with ‘Splatts’ and ‘preventing’ with ‘causing’ and you start to get an approximation of the 101 Ways to Die experience.
Splatts will amble through each laboratory-themed level, from entrance to exit, and try to avoid the traps you set for them to kill them in the most murderous ways imaginable. By placing tools and weapons along the Splatts’ route you can rain death on your unsuspecting victims as they look for a way out of the level. Imagination and inventiveness are the orders of the day. Distract them with cake while you plant a bomb nearby, impale them on spike walls, hit them with harpoons, run them down with boulders. Points of course, mean prizes. With points awarded for on a rising scale of murderous mayhem, working out the best combos to get the most points will see you climb those leader boards.
Killing with style is the aim of the game here, and levels have objectives to add an extra challenge – combo kills, deaths ins specifically gruesome ways – and your success is measured in the number of kills you make. After each blood-soaked round your performance is assessed – you will want to replay each level to grab that 5-star rating on each. You sadists.
As with most puzzle games, there are a variety of difficulty levels from easy, medium and hard. With over thirty levels, even the most experienced puzzle gamers will find challenge and frustration in equal measure along the way. Frustration, though, is tempered by the sheer lunacy of some of the killing machines you construct – it is incredibly enjoyable to watch those poor Splatts die in the most stylish ways possible.
Bright cartoony graphics that imbue the vat-bred Splatts with buckets of personality help us overlook a couple of niggles with the game. There are definite difficulty spikes – with accumulated stars needed to unlock new levels, you will find yourself retreading over old ground to complete that one challenge in the specific manner needed to unlock that last star. Some of the challenges seem oddly over-specific, too – in a game that encourages sandbox play and maximum mayhem, some challenges restrict creativity and feel at odds with the rest of the game.
As with most puzzle games, 101 ways to die is only a single player game and doesn’t support online or local multiplayer. Given the gory nature of the game, it an ESRB rating of TEEN.
101 Ways to Die is available on the Xbox Store priced £10.39.
Check out our gameplay video!