101 Ways To Die is an average puzzle game that despite breaking bones, doesn’t quite manage to break the mould. This brand new IP from Four Door Lemon Ltd. seeks to fill the “Rube Goldberg murder machine” niche that is currently lacking in the puzzle game market. Does it do it successfully or is there still unquenched bloodlust to be had in the name of science?
The game’s story is a simple one, Professor Splatunfuder is working in his lab figuring out new and ingenious ways to kill the (voluntarily there he assures you) Splats, a frankenstein style creature. Unfortunately for the good professor he loses his work in a lab accident. This is where you come in. You play the role of a lab assistant brought in to help him rebuild his lost work by running the splats through more experiments. The story has very little impact other than giving a setup for the rest of the game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as this isn’t the kind of game that needs a larger overarching narrative.
“101 Ways To Die is an average puzzle game that despite breaking bones, doesn’t quite manage to break the mould.”
This leaves the gameplay to carry the experience. A task which it performs this task competently. The goal of the game is to set out traps to kill the Splats as they wander towards an exit, it’s essentially the lemming’s sadistic cousin. There are a multitude of tools to accomplish this, ranging from your basic spikes to harpoon guns. The game’s title comes from the main mechanic; you’ll need to combine the different kinds of tools to fill the pages of the eponymous 101 Ways To Die book that represents the professor’s work. The early levels do a good job of easing you into the game and showing the various possibilities. It does start to feel repetitive in the later levels the rate of new things being doled out slows. The difficulty is on a harsh curve in the later levels; and finishing some of them felt more like luck then my plan going off without a hitch. There’s replay value here if you’re going for high scores and a three-star rank on all the levels, but the spectacle isn’t going to be what keeps you coming back for more.
In the presentation department the game is up to snuff. It’s easy to distinguish the characters from the background, and the movement is smooth. When a mine goes off or a harpoon skewers the hapless lab splats there’s a suitable cloud of blood and maybe few dismembered limbs. The carnage will leave an impression on the level, smearing walls and shorting out fans. It’s a nice touch that (ironically) helps to liven things up. The camera is serviceable but leaves room for improvement. It can be a tad to slow to move from one area off the level to another, and the zoom levels have a tendency to either be just a little too far in or just a little too far out. There is a helpful camera mode that will show what surfaces tools can be placed on.
Given that the victo… err… volunteers for the experiments are dying in a gruesome fashion the sound is almost as important as the spectacle. The effects are all suitably squishy for what’s happening on screen. It’s not realistic sounding enough to illicit a cringe, which will be a plus for some. Soundtrack wise the game is fine. There is little variety in the music, it’s forgettable but doesn’t detract from the experience.
101 Ways To Die is an average puzzle game. It’s technically sound, looks decent, and has an interesting concept, but a harsh difficulty curve and lack of variety keep it from being more.
*** PS4 copy provided by the publisher ***
- Game runs well
- Solid presentation
- Some cool ways to set up traps…
- …But not a lot of freedom in doing so
- Difficulty ramps up in the late game
- Can get repetitive