by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
Let’s Make A Death
In a future run by robots, only one man is somewhat intelligent enough to be sentenced to death by game show. That man, along with Death by Game Show’s attempts at humour and engaging gameplay, will fail repeatedly on his quest to survive the insane show he finds himself competing in. If that sounds harsh, that’s because I can’t recall a game that was this unpleasant to play.
A Haphazard Hodgepodge
Death by Game Show describes itself as a Twitch Strategy game, a mash up between repetitive arcade games and precise real time strategy games. It’s an interesting moniker, yet it is fitting for a game that relies on trial-and-error as much as this one does. For a game that has 50 levels/challenges, it’s necessary even. The levels are round planetoids that you can walk to the right or the left, with giant pillars of electricity blocking your path when you go too far.
The meat of game basically involves you summoning a number of droids and buildings to complete a simple objective on the similarly styled planets. Survive for x minutes, collect x amount of dollars etc. You spawn the droids by facing a direction and clicking a button, while buildings must be placed. There are no resources, but only a limited number of droids and buildings can be placed per challenge or at a time. Not a very complex system, nor is it a very enjoyable one.
The twitchiness of the system makes it so that mistakes happen often. Facing the wrong direction when spawning a droid means that the droid will walk away from a fight happening right behind you, even if you’re retreating. Make a mistake in spawning units too quickly and you’ll be overwhelmed by an enemy that can spawn endless units. And mistakes are fine, as they were mostly my fault, but I derived no pleasure from the gameplay. It is boring, with nothing to engage with as you sit back and click on units to spawn or occasional power ups. There is no incentive to experiment, as challenges feel as though they only have one correct solution that you must try over and over again to solve. With some challenges taking 5 minutes or so to wait out, it is tiresome.
Beyond the gameplay, the aesthetic is arguably the worst part of Death by Game Show. The game looks ugly, with a garish yellow, red and green throughout the game that evokes unpleasantness each time I look at it. The animations themselves are quite fine, but the look of nearly everything, from the main character to the backgrounds to the robots just feels off putting.
Then there are the attempts at humour. Perhaps this kind of humour isn’t meant for me, yet on the store page for the game it is described as “Inspired by the movie Idiocracy”, a comedy that I very much enjoyed. Not because it was over the top, which it was, but because that shock value of humour was tempered into a sharp parody and satire of the present day. This is no parody here, but the jokes are most certainly over the top. The humour here mostly consists of jokes that are either meant to be funny due to how over the top they are, like the ‘Rectal Furnace’ building, or pop culture references that never induced a single chuckle in me. Honestly, I don’t think I laughed at any point while playing the game. I just felt tired and bored by the attempts to make me laugh. Combined with the ugly aesthetic, I grew to dislike this game very, very quickly.
The Guilty Verdict
Death by Game Show’s biggest asset is that it is fully functional. It never lagged, never broke down once while I was playing and as far as I recall I never encountered a single impactful bug. Which would be good, if the game itself wasn’t so unpleasant. As a strategy game, Death by Game Show is incredibly simple and not very fun to play. Combined with the repetition of arcade games, it becomes a tiresome puzzle game. Add in the aesthetic, and you have a game that I would not recommend.
It is fully functional
It’s not fun, not pleasant to look at and not funny