When Let It Die was released, I found myself enamored with it. Make no mistake, the free-to-play title from Grasshopper / SUPERTRICK GAMES wasn’t ideal. It nickel and dime’d players for progression and was more than a little rough around the edges, if we’re being upfront about it. Still, I was taken by it. Charmed, even. The concept of progressing up a seemingly never ending, ever changing Tower of Barbs was a neat proposition. Likewise, it had enough Grasshopper / Suda 51 style oddities to it, like the peculiar yet lovable Uncle Death and the eccentric boss characters sprinkled far and in between a players’ progression.
In total, Let It Die did a lot more wrong than it did right, and I would have much preferred paying a retail price if it meant a more complete, less compromised experience overall. Still, I liked the idea of it a lot, and became a fan (I am certain frequenters of the Nightmare Shift can empathize – series like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street can often leave you feel shortchanged, but you like it in spite itself, always hoping it will perfect the formula).
Deathverse: Let It Die is a loose sequel to Let It Die. Set in the same world as Let It Die, Deathverse happens hundreds of years after the original. The characters of yesteryear are but a relic of a bygone era (although I would expect further crossover between them in later seasons – for instance, Phase Two of Season One has already begun incorporating skins and cosmetics from Let It Die).
Although, like its predecessor, Deathverse opts for a free-to-play setup instead of a more conventional release, it is a very different beast. Whereas Let It Die tasked you with ascending the Tower of Barbs in an almost rogue-like style, Deathverse is a arena experience that sees you brush shoulders with online players in a battle-royal.
I will be honest – I’m not into battle royals or online multiplayer videogames in general. I never have been. As a kid, I never played Halo or Call of Duty in their heyday, and, as an adult, I’ve never dabbled in Fortnite or Apex Legends. A lot of it is because I have always been on the outside looking in, as it were, with a lot of my teen years spent living ‘out in the country’, where data caps meant online-play couldn’t happen. In general, too, I’ve always gravitated toward singular, more story-focused experiences.
Still, I decided I would approach Deathverse with an open mind.
The gameplay is straightforward enough. Sixteen players are spawned throughout the arena. The objective is to be the last player standing by the end.
In the arena, there’re various items that can help you. For instance, if you can find mushrooms, they can offer you a small health boost to heighten your chances of survival. Non-player enemies called cryptids also wander the arena. You kill them, you’ll also receive a health boost. These can be fairly essential.
Each match (which usually last around 4-6 minutes total), you have a meter that calculates the crowd’s excitement toward you. Filling your meter is important, not only because it helps you with your Rankings and leveling, but because it can boost your attack rate for a match.
This makes it so players who lollygag or hideout until the end are at a stiff disadvantage (you don’t want to be at 1000/2000 health, no attack ups, squaring up against a 2000/2000 health opponent who has filled their gauge, after all).
Sometimes you’ll have instances where you can’t find any enemies – like they all spawned on the other side of the arena. This is when hunting cryptids and collecting mushrooms can be very useful so you don’t fall too far behind.
Each round is kept short (perhaps a little too short, in my opinion) and has ways of flushing players out fast. Certain sections of the arena become uninhabitable after awhile, forcing the players to work their way toward a small section for a “Showdown”. Hunters (non-playable enemies) are also set free, each with their own unique attack / approach to eliminating players.
When you attack another Player you claim some of his health for you own, in a kind of tug-of-war for the health gauge. If you are in a bind, this might compel you to insert yourself in the middle of a scrap, fire off all your specials, and gun it like a madman, claiming a small sliver of health for your troubles.
I may have made it sound complicated – it isn’t. It’s all very straightforward and easy to understand.
It’s fairly fun as well.
Deathverse doesn’t have all the charm in its characters that Let It Die did. The quirky humor is prevalent, but it doesn’t have a character like Uncle Death or memorable cut scenes to latch onto.
Likewise, too, Deathverse can feel rather sparse in its offerings.
On launch, Deathverse only has a handful of maps to throw players into at random, little choices for customization, and few game types to choose from.
It has also been plagued with outages and maintenances that have made it unplayable for days at a time (a small inconvenience for some, a larger inconvenience for those with a little window of playtime or those who paid larger amounts on microtransactions).
Most of this can be fixed over time though. If you treat Deathverse less as a videogame to pour hours into and more like a videogame you play a few rounds of every week, it’s all pretty minor, in fact.
The second phase of Season One has already started to fix some things, and they’ve added a small amount of new goodies to play with.
My hope is that they start to offer more extensive, elaborate game modes over time. Tournaments? A life system? Instead of starting a match and being offed in the first fifteen seconds by someone who spawned behind you, what if we had a system where players respawned and were eliminated every minute, based on their standings in the match – culminating in a normal showdown bout?
I would say I have played a fair amount of Deathverse so far. I’ve clocked about ten hours into it and competed in about 200 matches (I won about, maybe, 20 of them). I am not about to compete in any eSporting event, but I am decent. It wasn’t always the case, but now I finish nearly every match in the Top 5.
That in mind, certain weapons can feel a little imbalanced.
Most weapons you can tread water with. I prefer the Katana overall and I can hold my own, but I’ve noticed when I’m killed or when I’m having a really good run (my best was eliminating 6 of the 15 other players), it most often involves the Arms weapon.
I see a lot of potential in Deathverse.
It isn’t there yet, but I feel like, after a couple seasons, it could be really solid. Even if it is sparser than Let It Die, I believe it is more complete and suffers far less issues in how it is laid out. With Let It Die, the further you climbed, the more likely you were to face such insurmountable odds you either had to relent and give into the paywall or walk away.
With Deathverse, I feel like players are mostly even with one another. Each player has generally the same experience (except for your Season Level which can be directly enhanced through buying a Pass). I spent $13.99 on Deathverse’s microtransactions, but I didn’t need to. I wanted to offer my support and I wanted to unlock certain cosmetics items.
I hope they continue to add more to Deathverse in the coming months. If they do, I believe it could have the makings for a very good quirky Battle Royale alternative. For now though, it’s only decent.