This Week in Games - Let It Die

by Dustin Bailey,

It's the end of the year, and that means it's time for game releases to start winding down—but don't worry, January is already packed. There's only one release of any note this week, but don't think the lack of new games means a lack of things to talk about. Both Geoff Keighley's Game Awards and the PlayStation Experience occurred over the weekend, and with them came an overwhelming downpour of new announcements. News is packed this week, so it's just as well that the new releases are getting squeezed to the side—and given the sheer volume of stuff announced last weekend, I hope you'll forgive all the spots I'm going to have to miss. (You may refer to the items I'm willfully ignoring as “Crash ‘n’ the Boys.”)

But amid all the news of things that we'd see next year, there was also a new game suddenly released during PSX: Let It Die. We knew of its existence, but never really knew what it was—of course, can you ever truly know what's going on in a Suda51 game? It was put up for free on PlayStation Network with little ceremony. I've played a bit and boy, it is something else.

We're going to get into that in just a second, but first enjoy this Final Fantasy XV Cup Noodles ad.

Oh, right, and the Death Stranding trailer! How could I forget?

First Impressions: Let It Die

The quickest way to get you into the Let It Die mindset is this description: It's Dark Souls as imagined by Suda51. There's a lot more nuance than that, but that's the quick-and-dirty elevator pitch—which it desperately needs after being released with minimal ceremony during Sony's PSX conference. This is a post-PSX PSA. You should probably try Let It Die.

As your skateboarding, grim-reaping guide Uncle Death tells you, “it's like a hack-and-slash roguelike kind of a thing.” At the start you get a list of blank-slate bodies to choose from, and you'll take your character to the Tower of Barbs and try to capture the treasure at the top of the massive dungeon, collecting experience, money, equipment, and all that jazz along the way. When you die, your character becomes an NPC “Hater,” which means you'll have to take somebody new up the tower and kill your previous dude to return them to the character-select freezer.

Did I mention that the game “Let It Die” is actually a video game within Let It Die? You can hop out of the game and chat up folks like Uncle Death in the arcade which houses the Death Drive 128 hardware you're playing on. The arcade system is also where money comes in—this is a free-to-play game that builds its microtransactions around a quarter-munching death system. If your HP hits zero, an insurance saleswoman shows up and offers you resurrection for the cost of one Death Metal—which you can either earn in-game or purchase with real money.

I haven't gotten deep enough into the tower to be tempted by the insurance offer just yet, but something about the open brazenness of essentially charging for extra lives speaks to me on a deep, dark level. (There are repeatable quests to earn Death Metals in-game, too.) It's basically the same as shoving a quarter into an arcade machine for a continue, but here applied in a free-to-play game.

The action feels pretty stiff even when compared to something like a Souls game, but after a couple of hours it starts to click, and the strategy of survival management starts to make the combat compelling. You've got a very limited inventory and your weapons and gear are incredibly fragile, meaning that you've got to constantly stay on the hunt for new equipment while making your way through the levels.

It is, again, a Suda51 game, so if the likes of No More Heroes, Killer7, or Lollipop Chainsaw speak to you, then you should give this thing a shot. It's got all the weirdness of those titles, and it might actually be the most entertaining game that dude's ever produced. If it doesn't immediately click, give it some time—there's a density of mechanics that's a bit overwhelming at first amid endless text tutorials. It's worth looking at and it's free on PS4.

NEWS

MARVEL VS CAPCOM GOES INFINITE

The rumors were true, and the latest entry in the Marvel vs Capcom series was announced at PSX. Infinite features 2v2 battles and lore built around Marvel's Infinity Stones, which also serve as a new gameplay wrinkle. The official materials use the word “accessible” about a thousand times over, so Capcom is definitely trying to entice the casual crowd who did not buy Street Fighter V. Hopefully this thing launches with, like, all its features.

The same early rumors that predicted this announcement also suggested that the Marvel side of the roster would be heavily focused on characters appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, meaning less than the usual supply of X-Men. MvC without Wolverine and Magneto? Well, maybe. The roster so far features Captain America, Captain Marvel (the Carol Danvers one), Iron Man, Mega Man X, Morrigan, and Ryu.

YAKUZA 6 AND YAKUZA KIWAMI ARE BOTH COMING WEST

What a beautiful world we live in, where every major Yakuza game is getting localized into English. The prequel, 0, is out in January, and based on that I felt pretty confident that 6 would follow suit. And it is! Yakuza 6: The Song of Life will be hitting western shores in early 2018. On top of that, Yakuza Kiwami—the remake of the original PS2 game—is also getting localized for release in Summer next year. Yakuza 5 was kind of a bloated, over-ambitious mess, but I'll still be there for every one of these new releases.

THE NIGHTMARE IS REAL: THEY'RE BRINGING BACK WINDJAMMERS

Windjammers was an obscure Neo Geo game about competitive frisbee. It's being brought back for PS4 and Vita, updated with online play. But let's be real here—the story isn't that an old game is getting released for digital purchase. It's that Giant Bomb dot com managed to inadvertently-but-single-handedly convince a major publisher to give press conference time to a game that approximately 30 people care about. What's next, Skate 4? This is far too much power to invest in the hands of people who like video games.

PARAPPA THE RAPPER AND OTHER MUSIC GAMES ARE GETTING HD REMASTERS

Yeah, screw that bandicoot, feed MY nostalgia! PaRappa the Rapper is getting an HD remaster, and boy is it ever time. PaRappa is actually in a very strange boat as these things go, as its intensely specific intensely windows make it very difficult to play via emulation today, as any amount of input lag makes the game virtually impossible. It needs to be properly updated for modern players, and boy does this remaster look slick. The rhythm-RTS Patapon is getting similar treatment, and despite its lack of music action, the delightful LocoRoco is also getting lumped in with this announcement.

CAPCOM GIVES THE FINGER TO RESIDENT EVIL DEMO PLAYERS

Yes, the finger now has a purpose, and a new update to the Resident Evil 7 demo lets you actually finish the thing. What happens at the end? Spoilers—you leave the creepy house. You also get a dirty coin, which apparently transfers to the main game. How does this bode for the actual game, due out in January? Who knows! But, y'know, prepare to enter the world of survival horror and all that.

SQUARE IS FIXING THE BAD PARTS OF FINAL FANTASY XV

I reviewed Final Fantasy XV. I liked it a lot! But there are parts of that game that are absolutely bewildering. Like, what happened with Ravus? (No spoilers, but you know what I'm talking about if you've played through the game.) Well, hey, it looks like those missing plot points are getting patched in. Because 2016, y'all.

A blog credited to Hajime Tabata outlines the plan for future updates to the game, which includes “adding scenes that give you new insight into character motivations.” Right now, the only scene that describes character motivations is a two-hour piece of non-interactive DLC called Kingsglaive. So yeah, it would be nice to have that in the game.

Also on the agenda are “gameplay enhancements for Chapter 13,” which is the part that leads directly to the climax and also the worst, dullest part of the game. Don't get me wrong, big swaths of FF15 are terrific. But hey, maybe wait until the bad parts are patched?

SWITCH RUMOR UPDATE: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT PORTABLE DARK SOULS?

Time for my favorite part of the week: Switch rumors! (It's going to be a bummer when the console's actually out and we can't speculate anymore.) These come once again from Laura Dale at LetsPlayVideoGames. First, news that the console will perform better when docked. The bulk of the hardware is in the handheld portion of the system, but additional cooling provided by the dock will allow the system's clock speed to increase. The expectation is that the dock will be cheap so people can buy more and connect them to multiple TVs.

You may also remember that From Software was among the list of third-party developers announced for the Switch, and it sounds like they've got Dark Souls 3 up and running on the hardware. They're not yet committed to the release, but apparently discussions within the company are interested in getting all three games onto the Switch with their DLC bundled—pending prospective sales data.

On top of all that, Eurogamer is reporting that GameCube games will hit the new system's Virtual Console, with Super Mario Sunshine, Luigi's Mansion, and Super Smash Bros. Melee already ready to go. In particular, it seems Nintendo is looking to keep the latter game alive for the competitive scene, so hopefully they're willing to put in the emulation work to make that viable.

NEXT WEEK'S RELEASES

SUPER MARIO RUN
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: iOS
Release Date: December 15
MSRP: Free / $9.99

Ah, the rarest of sighting: a mobile game being covered on TWIG. I'd say Nintendo's first “real” game on the platform is worth mentioning, right? Super Mario Run is an auto-scrolling platformer in the vein of Bit.Trip Runner, where your goal is to jump at the appropriate times to clear discrete stages.

“Tap to jump with good timing” might not seem like the most compelling gameplay conceit, but the aforementioned Runner games were great and I'm sure Nintendo can put a solid spin on the concept. The game is free-to-start (because Nintendo hates the term free-to-play), but you'll have to put down ten bucks to play past the first few levels.

ALSO AVAILABLE:
There's very little else, but if you're a Harvest Moon fan who doesn't game on PC, you need to be aware that Stardew Valley is hitting consoles this week. Don't sleep on that if you like farming RPGs.

See you next time!


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