STAFF REVIEW of 101 Ways to Die (Xbox One)

Thursday, April 21, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

101 Ways to Die Box art Since we've relaunched Xbox Addict, I have been reviewing some titles that favor strategy and thought rather than muscle reflex and headshots. However, I haven't come across any that I enjoyed to the point that it took me away from the shooters and other titles currently in my queue.

My most recent review duties, that you'll read here, had me playing 101 Ways To Die, and to be honest I actually quite enjoyed this one. For $12.99, developers Four Door Lemon/On The Metal games have put together a title that you'll find will bring hours of enjoyment, that is once when you get past some of the minor irritants of this game.

The story begins as mad scientist Professor Splattunfunder confines himself to his dungeon laboratory to begin his tireless work on completing his compendium of "101 Ways To Die". Literally, less than half a second later we see that it's finished (guess it doesn't take him long being a mad scientist, oh that and the montage that follows).

To celebrate this success, one of his splats (think stupid undead zombie minion) brings a bomb to the Professor, and you can probably guess what happens next. During the explosion the compendium is destroyed and Professor Splattunfunder must expedite its completion once again, but this time he calls in an assistant: you. It is up to you to help the good-evil Professor to rediscover all 101 Ways To Die so that the compendium can be complete. Pretty simple story.

So we've established that the story leaves little enjoyment; however, what we do discover is that this game is setup to help you create the most lethal Rube Goldberg machine you'll ever comes across. To do this you will be given a series of traps, which range from explosives, slippery goo, spring boards, and so much more. Naturally, as you progress you will get more traps but the levels themselves will progress in difficulty too. This is where my biggest gripe of this game resides.

There are different objectives that you will strive to reach such as 'Graduate Objectives', which consists of goals such as only one splat may escape, to 'Master Objectives', which consists of you killing two splats with one boulder. Clearing the objectives will net you stars which accumulate and unlock other areas of destruction to play with. Of course it is fun to watch the bloody dismemberment; however, you will find that as you go through the levels, the trick isn't just correct placement, but correct timing as well.

Should your timing be off even for just a slight moment, it can easily cost you a perfect score. So while the game is cerebral in its core, having to replay missions because you forgot to detonate a cannon at the right time, the exact angle, or at the proper target, can become frustrating at times. This is compounded by the fact that the splats move VERY slowly. You can hold the X button down to speed up time, but even then it's incredibly slow. I understand that this is to help you with proper timing, but it causes a disruption in the harmonic balance between gameplay and fun.

The control scheme is also questionable. First off, you have two different sets of views, an x-ray mode that lets you see your traps, and the normal view which is, well, normal. In the x-ray mode you can place your traps and tools of destruction while aiming them to the best of your ability. The aiming controls are not very precise and after trying to figure out the proper path to a gory death, trying to time your executions can be incredibly frustrating.

Thankfully the game has a camera system that can be utilized, though it can feel completely useless. No I'm not joking. I found that you can zoom in and out for whatever reason, but with seemingly no real purpose. To put things in perspective, when you have the camera zoomed all the way out, your splats look almost microscopic in size, if you zoom-in to the normal view, the screen zooms so far in you lose a lot of your surroundings. When you go all the way in with your zoom, you seemingly see a close-up of the splat and literally lose whatever limited vision you have left. If felt like there was no "happy medium" here.

After going through this game I have to say that I'm glad that the camera is so limited though. There is some great, sadistic humor to be had when you're exploding, impaling, and launching splats to their death. For $12.99 it's makes for an fairly entertaining game, even with the few issues I have noted. While it may be limited in scope, let your imagination run wild and your darker side have a little fun as you help complete the compendium of 101 Ways To Die.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.5 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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