As soon as I booted up 101 Ways to Die I was reminded of the amazing times I had with Lemmings (and Lemmings 2: The Tribes), however this puts a wicked twist on the objective of the game… you have to make sure the creatures, called Splatts, don’t escape, and whilst doing so you need to kill them in the most creative ways possible. When you start a level you’re presented with an overview, and you can place your traps before the Splatts are released rather than having to do things on the fly. There’s an entrance chamber where the Splatts spawn which will tell you how many are coming out in the level, and there’s an exit chamber which tells you how many can escape before the level is failed.
Here’s where I ran into my first issue, you’re encouraged to be creative whilst killing the Splatts however the score rating system is based on stars which you need to progress, and you only get stars for completing the criteria in each level. So, you can try to be as creative as you like, but there are a limited number of ways to kill the Splatts in each level and if you somehow manage to kill one with a method that isn’t part of the criteria for the level then you won’t get any stars and won’t be able to progress. That said, even if it does feel quite scripted it’s still great fun watching a Splatt get impaled on spikes, blown up by a bomb or crushed by a giant ball and I was enjoying it enough to record videos as I played through.
I had to laugh at the introduction cutscene, 101 Ways to Die tries to implement a story/rationale but it’s really not needed, and personally I just thought it was a bit of a waste of time. No-one expects a story with this kind of game, so if you’re going to insist on doing one at least put a bit more effort into it. I could just imagine a group of Splatts as actual characters (names, personalities and unique looks) trying to escape the laboratory whilst the Professor is trying to kill them, perhaps even a different mode where you could save the Splatts as you did in Lemmings.
The graphics were a bit disappointing in my opinion, and I quickly got bored of the repetitive level design, even the Splatts don’t have much going for them which I feel is a wasted opportunity. Sure some of them have slightly different looks and there are slightly different types (some are quicker than others, some have more health so can be smacked around a bit more) so I understand what the developer is going for, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing a bit more personality.
From what I could see there was no multiplayer, but I guess that’s to be expected with this kind of game. Based on that the game has limited replay value, once you’ve finished levels and progresses there’s no point in going back to them unless you need to increase your score rating.
101 Ways to Die is fun in short bursts and it is quite satisfying watching the Splatts get impaled and blown up, but I’d struggle to sit down and play it solidly for more than a couple of hours at a time. Unfortunately it’s hard for me to recommend this at the current price tag of £10.39, so maybe try and pick it up during the sales but even then there are so many other games I’d recommend first.