- Plenty of levels
- Decent fun for a while
- The Vita’s first medical defence game!
- The gameplay is perhaps a bit too simple
- Levels, for the most part, feel near-identical
While some say the Vita is in need of life support, I’m not quite sure this is what they had in mind. Die!Die!Die! is the first “medical defence” game to arrive on the handheld, although in reality it’s about as biologically intricate as a gallon of Coca Cola being injected through your nose. The concept is based on a real human body; Deadly microbes infiltrate the blood stream, should too many remain unblasted by your high-powered syringe gun, you die. Well I assume that you die, the end result could be a mild cold, who knows?
Think of it as a tower defence game, except with no towers and pea-shooter powered defence. Your loaded syringe is located on the left of the screen, the bacteria, viruses and whatnot all come from the right. If a set number (the number varies between levels) slip by untreated, you lose. Reach the target number of kills or survive for X amount of time, and you win. By holding down the shoot button you can charge up shots, each blast effectively acts as a small bomb. You needn’t worry about planning trajectory; you can aim your crosshair anywhere you like. Charging shots simply adds to the power, with stronger efforts resulting in less shots needed to kill the unwanted scurvy.
It’s a very simple concept, and one that’s kept constant throughout the whole game. While there are three different campaigns (Veins, Intestines and Brain) spread across in excess of 80 levels, it never really evolves that much. Sure you get new microbes that can take slightly more damage, some that speed up a bit, and some that are just plain annoying, but it all equates to you doing the same thing over and over again. Blasting hard and fast is the only way to survive. There feels like there’s no kind of progression, and once you’ve played the first ten or so levels then you’ve pretty much seen it all.
The final of the three campaigns, Brain Wars, offers what should have been present at the start. Each enemy has a specific weakness that can be exploited, and you’re required to switch weapons on the fly to see them off. It constantly keeps you on your toes, and most importantly, keeps you interested beyond firing the 50,000th shot of the syringe at a humongous flock of identikit bacteria.
While special power-ups are available throughout each level, any form of tactical deployment is cast aside by the fact that their distribution and use is completely random. They pop up during levels, but you’re forced to use them on the spot with a quick tap. This would be fine, but the unbalanced nature of a lot of them makes it a bit reliant on luck. For example, you could get a small explosion that takes out a couple of microbes upon contact, or a great, big massive swarm of antibiotics raining down on everything. You’ll be praying for the right power-ups, as without them on the harder difficulties, you’ll be left clutching at straws as you fire off shot after shot.
Outside of the trio of campaigns, there’s a bonus game type called Survivor Mode. It’s essentially an “unlimited” wave of enemies that you need to repel for as long as you can, and unless you enjoy the small-scale bragging rights that the leaderboards offer, then I can’t see it lasting too long. It joins a multiplayer mode that’s strictly offline only, and offers mere “pass the Vita” play without any form of connectivity.
As a whole, Die!Die!Die! is a bit too reliant on a single trick, and feels like it’s not going anywhere until the final third of the game. While the slew of power-ups and mass microbe nuking are fun for a while, the hit and miss nature of the items that you’re given mean that a chunk of luck is required. Despite a change in the cosmetics of the levels, they all feel the same until Brain Wars, which shows the potential that the game had if the weapon-switching mechanic had been incorporated from the off. As it stands, it’s an okay “medical defence” game that could’ve been a lot more. Think of it as taking Paracetamol instead of Nurofen.