Preview: Why Let it Die is 2016's Best Free-to-Play Game

Find out why Grasshopper Manufacture's hack-and-slash game Let it Die is an experience to die for.

November 21, 2016 by Morgan Shaver

Last week, I had the unique opportunity to head out to El Segundo, California and visit the headquarters of GungHo, publisher of the upcoming free-to-play PS4 game, Let it Die. The game, developed by Suda51-founded studio Grasshopper Manufacture, challenges players to stay alive in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo setting.

After nearly two hours of hands-on gameplay, I can say with absolute certitude that Let it Die is the best free-to-play game of 2016. If you’re wondering why I say 2016, this is because the staff at GungHo stated that the game will release before the end of this year.

The exact release date was kept secret, yet with a wry grin, the PR members at GungHo seemed to indicate that I can expect to hop back into the game at home sooner rather than later.

Before we get into the interview with the legendary Hideyuki Shin, creative director behind Let it Die, let's take a closer look at the game itself! 

Let it Die Preview

Let it Die opens with an engrossing cutscene featuring a young girl on a motorbike. As she rides around, you are given your first glimpse at Let it Die's post-apocalyptic setting, as well as the enigmatic game mascot, Uncle Death. The cutscene is vaguely reminiscent of the imagery shown in Let it Die’s main teaser trailer.

Let it Die takes place in the year 2026, which doesn’t seem too far away does it? However, as you move around in the game, you start to feel that this universe has an “otherworldly” feel to it that I can only attribute to as cyberpunk.

After a tectonic disturbance results in catastrophic destruction across the globe, South Western Tokyo splits off and becomes an island in the middle of the ocean. In the center of this island resides the Tower of Barbs, a structure where many have attempted to reach the top, but none have succeeded.

The Tower of Barbs idea reminds me a bit of the Dark Tower in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. After you get a good feel for the game, you'll start to consider Let it Die as an equal blend of hack-and-slash, action, strategy, and cyberpunk.

Once the cutscene ends, you find yourself in a moving train car. On your left sit a row of identical male NPC characters with their heads down. On your right, you will find a similar sight of female characters. All of these NPCs are in their underwear and feature Matrix-like holes across their body.

There is no character customization. Here, the only option you are given is whether you wish to play as a male or a female. Once you've made your choice the train stops. Upon exiting the train, you are let to your own devices. At this point in the game, I decided to run around and experiment with the controls while Uncle Death skateboarded and gave me a humorous little pep talk.

In addition to making you feel as “at home” as you could ever feel in such a bleak universe, Uncle Death gifts you an “Underworld Rolodex” which you use to collect pertinent game information. You will find a vast array of useful information scattered about—not only within Let it Die's tutorial phase—but also in the main parts of the game itself.

The information takes the form of an envelope tethered to either a blue or red balloon. To retrieve it, simply approach the balloon and collect the envelope. Typically, the envelope will contain instructions or information that you will need to know about various aspects of the game.

Be sure to collect every balloon you see! And, if you happen to forget something, the letters you've gathered are automatically stored in your Underworld Rolodex if you feel like you missed something.

Because Let it Die is a hack-and-slash game, you’re expected to learn combat right after taking the escalator and exiting the train station. However, fighting is not as easy in Let it Die as many would assume. In the game, you are able to see your character’s beating heart. If you over-exert your heart you will become exhausted, leaving you vulnerable to enemy attacks.

Fortunately, you can also use the same mechanic to make your enemy groggy, which enables you to unleash a “Goregastic Attack.” This is the move that splatters blood all over the place (and earn you more rewards). In Let it Die’s combat, the “strategy” element is present throughout and can feel similar to the Dark Souls series.

You are able to roll, dodge, and outsmart your enemies. Keep in mind, this is not a game where you button-mash your opponents to death. As with any good fighting game, there are special moves you can unleash, one of which is called a “Rage” move. With every successful hit, your Rage Gauge increases. Once full, hold down the triangle button to unleash your Rage!

In the beginning, your weapons are simply your fists, and boy are they strong! Later, you’ll be able to pick up new weapons from the corpses of enemies you’ve slain. Weapons can be equipped in either your right, left, or both hands. You can also hold two different types of weapon at the same time.

There are 6 primary types of weapons:

  • Slashing
  • Blunt
  • Piercing
  • Fire
  • Lighting
  • Poison

Not only will you pick up weapons from downed enemies and be able to place them wherever you wish in your weapon slots, but you’ll also find clothes. Hurray! There are three types of clothing (armor) you can find in the game. These include head armor, upper body armor, and lower body armor. Finally, defeating opponents awards you kill coins which will come in handy later on.

Everything in Let it Die will wear down with use thanks to the game's durability feature. Perhaps this is why I kept reverting back to battling it out in my undies, as your clothes will disappear when they wear down completely. If you wish to save items for use later on, you have an inventory called a “Death Bag” where you can store items. 

If you wish to save items for use later on, you have an inventory called a “Death Bag” where you can store items. This Death Bag will come in handy when you begin to find items such as mushrooms or animals.

There are a wide variety of mushrooms growing on the ground in Let it Die, and not all of these mushrooms are beneficial to you. Should you eat a poisonous mushroom, be sure to puke it back out before you die. You'll need to puke quickly, though! Bad mushrooms are still useful in that you can throw them at your enemies, so if you come across one you don’t need, store it in your Death Bag.

You will also encounter animals in the game. The only one I was able to find was a frog I’m going to dub “Frog Prince” due to his cute little crown. You can eat Mr. Frog Prince for health regeneration, store him in your Death Bag, or stomp him to death to release a poison. The Frog Prince is hard to catch... that, and I was pretty bad at crouching and pressing X to grab him before he hopped away.

If you don't need the animal, you can store them in the same manner as mushrooms in your Death Bag. If you find your Death Bag starting to get full, you can venture back to your base at the bottom of the Tower of Barbs and store some of your things there. Here, you will also find a Daily Rewards Box, a Store, a beautiful fountain, and a quirky lady known as the Mushroom Magistrate who runs the Mushroom Club.

At the Mushroom Club, you can cook mushrooms and animals, thus altering their properties. The Mushroom Magistrate will also sell you Decals which give your Fighter various buffs and improvements. She's even nice enough to make you a special Mushroom Stew if you have enough kill coins. 

Skill Decals are interesting and are purchasable via kill coins picked up from downed enemies. These Decals are attached to the body of your Fighter and will wear down over time unless you own a Premium or Limited Decal.

This leads me to explain the microtransaction system in Let it Die, which is less obtrusive than you were probably expecting. Microtransactions take the form of currency called “Death Metal” and can be exchanged for kill coins.

At the moment, there’s no confirmed price point for how much Death Metal will cost in the PS Store. However, the exchange rate is 1 Death Metal per 5,000 kill coins (not bad). You can also buy an Express Pass from the PS Store (also no confirmed price) which lasts 30 days.

The benefits of an Express Pass include:

  • Once daily, you will receive a “Limited Decal” as a login bonus.
  • You will be able to use the Royal Elevator. Unlike the Normal Elevator in Let it Die which requires kill coins to use, the Royal Elevator will transport you to any discovered floor of your choice for free.
  • Increases the number of slots in your Death Bag. These extra spots are called “Royal Slots” are marked by a crown icon.

You can also use Death Metal to expand your overall storage. Spending 2 Death Metal permanently buys you extra storage slots. In your base, you'll also find a Fighter Freezer where you can store additional Fighters (and is expandable via microtransactions).

There are 8 Fighter types in total:

  • All-Rounder: All abilities balanced, each attribute can be raised equally.
  • Striker: Specializes in close-range attacks. HP and Strength are prioritized.
  • Defender: Specializes in defense, HP and Vitality are prioritized.
  • Attacker: Specializes in attacking, Strength and Dexterity are prioritized.
  • Shooter: Specializes in shooting, HP and Dexterity are prioritized.
  • Collector: Specializes in collecting materials. High Death Bag capacity.
  • Skill Master: Specializes in skill expansion. Has many skill slots.
  • Lucky Star: Specializes in fate increase. Luck is prioritized.

If you want to mess with enemy players, you can send these Fighters out to raid their bases and bring you back goodies. These Fighters are called Hunters, and their names are marked in Red. Be wary if you see one approaching your base—they're quite strong.

If you die in the game, your Fighter will come back to life as a "Hater" wherever the body dropped. You will frequently encounter Haters in the game, all of whom are marked by an orange name.

If  a Hater gets the best of you, the owner of that Hater gets some of your goodies sent to their Rewards Box. However, if your Hater kills another player, you get their goodies in your Rewards Box. Be sure to figure out the best tactical way to use your Fighters. To level up your Fighter, you will need to use the Mingo Head, a Fighter training machine that greets players after they return back home.

You can level up in the following stats:

  • HP
  • Strength
  • Dexterity
  • Vitality
  • Stamina
  • Luck

The highest mastery level you can attain in various attributes (such as weaponry) is Level 20.

There you have it, those are the essentials to Let it Die. You need to use your intelligence and killing skill to reach the top of the Tower of Barbs. Can you do it? If you own a PlayStation 4, the game is free, so there’s no point in not trying! 

Continue for interview with Hideyuki Shin