Guess what happens in this game? Hint: the title is pretty descriptive.
From the creators of the trippy Pong update Revenge of the Ball comes a 2D-shooter where every level is a boss level. And you will die. A lot. By lasers.
You Will Die starts off simply enough – there is your ship and an enemy ship. “You will die,” rasps a dark female voice. Using standard dual-stick controls, you blast the enemy a bunch of times until it blows up. Simple enough.
Level 2 – the boss ship is three times as big and has three times as many guns. Each extra ship part has its own guns, its own health, and its own score. You can either take out the weaker “arms” of the boss, or go straight for the more-powerful core. Either you win, and advance to an ever-more-powerful enemy (indefinitely, I believe… the top score on the leaderboard managed to reach level 18 somehow), or you die. One death = game over.
There are some differences to the classic shooter formula: the left trigger refills your health, and the right trigger activates a shield if you have a high enough combo multiplier. Both drain your score and combo, so use it sparingly and effectively.
Shoot aliens without missing, and you build your combo quickly. This is the only way to reach those million-point games. Still, with so much going on at once, ignoring your shield will kill you – simple as that.
It turns into a delicate balancing act between utilizing your shield and maintaining a high score (which is admittedly easier to regain once you have a high multiplier, but you can drop down to zero points in a few seconds flat if you lay on the shield button). You will not do well the first time you play, but you’ll wonder, “Is it just going to keep getting bigger and bigger?” Yes. Yes it is.
This game isn’t here to give you a sense of accomplishment. It’s here to give you a sense of you sucking.
There is no winning. The enemy just keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until eventually the sheer number of bullets on the screen leaves you with literally no place to go. All you can hope is to top the leaderboards before you die.
Up until a few days ago, there were only two (yes, two) people on the leaderboards. Maybe it’s too much to ask of the 238 people that rated the game a near-four-star average on the XBLA Marketplace to drop a whopping 80 Microsoft points ($1) on a game that they probably can’t even survive through the demo. Luckily, the leaderboards have filled out a bit, and your score in the top corner is presented next to the score of the person just ahead of you on the boards, giving you a target to shoot for. It’s a nice touch.
Short games are hurt most by free trials. This seems set to be yet another casualty, despite the tight controls and the unbeatable enemies that makes you feel like you can conquer with practice and the old-school, unending boss battle streak. You will hearken back to the days when games were a challenge that relied on nothing more than your reflexes and hand-eye coordination.
Then, you’ll remember that classic game design can infuriate you into a controller-breaking rage in roughly three seconds, and you’ll pop something more accessible into your 360. Such is life.