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101 Ways to Die

Score: 85%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Vision Games Publishing Limited
Developer: Four Door Lemon
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Themed/ Classic/Retro

Graphics & Sound:

Recently released is Four Door Lemonís twisted take on the "guide your characters to safety" puzzle game genre with 101 Ways to Die. Confined to small areas for each of the gameís puzzle levels, the visual style presented is very well done, while still holding to a simplistic approach. The lighting in the game is really one of the things that helps stimulate the visuals, and that leads into nice texturing. The animations in the game are acceptable, and while pretty basic overall, the different styles of Splatts come through via movements as well as in model silhouettes.

The audio in 101 Ways to Die is also pretty basic, and plays a bit toward kiddie-sounding reactions and outbursts from the Splatts. Still, there is something appealing about this simplicity and it really does fit the game well. Music and other sound fx are also comfortably done and donít detract from the game in any way, but instead add to the overall sense of the ridiculousness presented on-screen. Unlike a lot of indie games on the market, I actually chose to wear headphones while playing this title each and every time.


Gameplay:

As you may have guessed from the title of this game, 101 Ways to Die is anything but your typical Lemmings game. Thatís not to say that they arenít similar in concept, however. At its core, 101 Ways to Die really is a Lemmings clone of sorts. The goal is to use environmental aspects of every puzzle while, at the same time, using specific tools to help solve each stage to a satisfactory level. Of course, there is one major difference. We arenít dealing with cute little critters in 101 Ways to Die. Oh, no, no! These are basically cloned minions created for the diabolical pleasure of Professor Ernst Splattunfuder to use as Guinea pigs while testing out different ways to pierce, dismember, decapitate, and otherwise cause a very bad day to his creations.

The professor, or better called a mad scientist, created his "Splatts" to run through his death mazes with one goal in mindÖ to find different ways to kill each and every one of them. Along the way, it is possible to create and set off booby traps and use pre-existing environmental elements to his diabolical advantage. There are plenty of ways to kill Splatts (you guessed it, 101!), including the classics like spikes and fire pits, as well as bombs and jumpers, but also more modern inventions like deadly lasers and scientifically-designed slippery slime. Whatís more is that in order to find every way to die, combos play an important role as a gameplay element.

Essentially, the player will be presented with a group of contraptions that he/she can place in the level in a variety of ways nearly anywhere, in some cases. Depending on the level, certain floors and walls are excluded from being able to attach objects to, but the user really has creative freedom in where they can be placed. There is usually more than one way or solution to kill the Splatts, so experimentation is encouraged. Professor Splattunfuder wouldnít have it any other way. Finding the right combination to effectively accomplish all of the goals can sometimes take a bit of patience, but trial and error will always win out.


Difficulty:

While 101 Ways to Die is pretty straightforward game, really, the range in difficulty is surprisingly wide. Some of the early stages in the game, and even some of the later ones, seem to be quick to pass. The goals may be as simple as making sure all Splatts die. However, there are also stages that seem next to impossible to perfect due to specific combo usage or other gameplay requirements.

Like most casual games out there, 101 Ways to Die uses a star system as a way to designate how well the player is doing. Yes, there is also a score, but letís face itÖ like achievements (which are also present), everyone likes collecting stars. Sometimes a perfect score of 3 stars is easy, and other times it feels like there is no way to get that pesky 3rd star. The rub here, however, is that if you donít complete enough levels to 3-star perfection, later levels will not be unlocked. There is actually a very nice balance toward the final levels, because the player really does have to earn his/her way to unlocking them by replaying some of the more tricky levels that may have been glazed over previously.


Game Mechanics:

The controls in 101 Ways to Die are actually very straightforward and can be played exclusively with the mouse through point and click interactions. Because of this, nearly anyone can pick this game up and enjoy it. As the game goes on, puzzles tend to get a bit more difficult (intermittently), so the game may not be that easy for youngstersÖ not that they should probably be playing this anyway due to the graphic (cartoon) violence.

Most of the objects that get placed are passive in nature, so other than some pre-planning, no real thought needs to go into them once the Splatts are released. There are a few gadgets and bombs, however, which require user interaction and timing during gameplay. Thankfully, the developers also added a keyboard button to speed up the scene should you desire, and it came in handy on some of the levels that may need to be replayed over and over trying to get that elusive 3rd star.

In all, 101 Ways to Die is a pretty enjoyable game and has just enough strategy and difficulty to hold most playersí attentions, I suspect. There are literally 101 ways to kill the Splatts, so there is also a certain amount of replayability there, although that is a matter of perspective. I can certainly recommend 101 Ways to Die to anyone with a fancy for logic games and who doesnít mind a little spilled blood.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows Vista or later; Quad core 2.5GHz minimum; 2GB RAM; DirectX 11 class graphics card with 1GB of Video RAM; Broadband Internet connection; 400MB Hard Drive Space; DX11 compatible sound card; Xbox 360 pad or compatible supported
 

Test System:



Windows 10 Pro 64-bit; Intel Core i7-5930K CPU @ 3.50GHz (12 CPUs); 32GB RAM; nVidia GeForce GTX 980

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