Just Die Already provides an entertaining premise and plenty of funny moments thanks to its crazy ragdoll physics
- Developer: Double Moose Games
- Publisher: Curve Digital
- Genre: Physics sandbox
- Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Windows PC, Switch
- Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
- Supplied by: Publisher
Just Die Already
When I first saw footage of Just Die Already, from Double Moose (creators of Goat Simulator), it looked like the kind of mindless physics-based fun I enjoyed so much with games like Goat Simulator and Totally Reliable Delivery Service. A large open world filled with loads of interactive objects, a ridiculous premise and objectives, and the kind of over-the-top physics that often results in some hilarious emergent gameplay.
For the first couple of hours, at least, that’s exactly what I got.
Starting (ending?) life in your retirement home, you soon get kicked out for causing carnage and are set loose into the big wide world. In what is a satirical but disturbingly accurate piece of social commentary, the elderly are a neglected and shunned part of society. The youth of the world spend their time gaming instead of working, and the pension pot has dried up, leaving the “boomers” to fend for themselves. Your goal is to acquire enough tickets, earned by completing tasks from a bucket list, to earn a trip to a retirement village in Florida.
Exploring the world is joyful; it’s bright, colourful and rammed full of ways to kill yourself, deliberately or otherwise. Fish tank full of piranhas? Check. Angry bouncers, who will beat you to a pulp? Yep. Giant sharks in Venice style canals ready to gobble you up? Why not! It’s not just the deliberate hazards, though. Even walking into something at just the wrong angle can knock off body parts, and leave you rolling or hopping around as a dismembered concoction of remaining body parts. To Just Die Already’s credit, it is funny, at least at first.
The game world is comprised of several stylised and distinct areas that are fun to explore. From the San Fransisco-Esque streets of the starting area to the docks, Zen garden and sports areas, Just Die Already is a richly designed world full of interactive and destructible elements. There are loads of hidden areas, secrets to find and plenty of laugh out loud moments to be found.
Tick it off the list
As you explore each area, bucket list items are added to your list that will earn you tickets if you complete them. Many of these are self-explanatory, such as losing limbs or getting electrocuted, and you’ll find yourself completing a lot of them while you’re experimenting with the gameplay or while discovering new and inventive ways to die. Once you’ve finished most of the easy list items, though, the requirements start to become more specific, and it’s not always clear what you need to do or where you need to go to solve an objective.
Although your main goal is to build up enough tickets to pay for your retirement in Florida, you can also use these tickets to buy things from vending machines dotted around the world. The more tasks you complete, the more items you unlock. These range from simple swords or cosmetic items to bazookas, hover shoes, light sabers and more.
Once you’ve got past the initial experimentation and farting around phase, though, the lack of clear direction in your goals and objectives can be off-putting, as you constantly need to jump in and out of your bucket list to see if there’s something you need to do. Some kind of localised contextual mission list would have been a huge help here. Although it’s fun just exploring and randomly finding hidden areas or things to do, once you’ve had your fill of random meandering and want to make progress is where Just Die Already starts to falter.
There are some objectives that are just outright frustrating. To access some areas, you need to have just the right amount of limbs removed. In theory, this sounds easy enough, but the practicalities of removing just your arms (or any other combination of body parts) leads to some deeply irritating moments.
This is because your OAP of choice is incredibly fragile; limbs can fall off from the slightest of accidental bumps and knocks, and there is little consistency when it comes to working out how to remove specific body parts. When you do finally manage to de-limb yourself accordingly, it’s all too easy to accidentally lose an extra limb as a result of your current level of dismemberment.
I know this game is designed to be janky; after all, the random glitchiness of Goat Simulator was part of the charm. I mean, you’re a goat who picks stuff up with your tongue and likes headbutting stuff. In Just Die Already, though, they’ve made the controls way too unreliable.
The controls are straightforward enough, with the left and right bumpers used to grab things with the respective hands, and the triggers swinging, throwing or shooting whatever you are holding. Trying to accurately utilise these movements, though, is an exercise in futility – There’s an achievement for making ten baskets in a row that looked like an easy 100 gamerscore. Over thirty minutes of missed shots later, I began to wish I would just die already.
You can stand in the same spot, aim at the exact same marker, and carefully position your character, only for your shots to go in wildly different directions. It’s not just throwing, either. Something as simple as picking something up can also be deeply annoying, as you need to be positioned just right to get it into your hands, only to knock into something and have your arms fall off.
Again, this was funny and entertaining for the first few hours, but it very quickly wore thin after the initial honeymoon period. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of fun to be found in Just Die Already, as in short bursts it is frequently hilarious, and co-op will likely be hugely entertaining. The only issue is whether it has enough longevity to keep you coming back to it. For completionists who will want to check off everything on the bucket list, unless you take some kind of masochistic pleasure in fighting the frustrating controls you are likely to spend so much time irritated by failing seemingly easy tasks you won’t appreciate the humour for long.
N.b. A new PvP mode is being developed, and scheduled for release in June, which should work well with all elderly combatants on an (un)level playing field. Like the main game, it may not offer much longevity beyond the initial humour, but certainly complements the package as a whole.
Just Die Already provides an entertaining premise and plenty of funny moments thanks to its crazy ragdoll physics. The bright and colourful cartoony world is fun to explore, and full of opportunity for self-led emergent gameplay. However, it’s let down by awkward controls that soon become more of a hindrance to the fun than the reason for it.
If you only play it in short sessions, and especially with friends, it can provide you with some brilliant and memorable moments. Once you try and focus on completing your bucket list or unlocking the achievements, though, the fun soon gives way to frustration.
Just Die Already isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, it just didn’t captivate me in the way that other sandbox games have. If you can pick it up for a price that seems good to you, it’s definitely worth it as a time-filler or a way to unwind between more serious offerings.