02/07/2018

πŸ› ️ Review: Die Young "A Mesh of Great Ideas in One Tasty Pot" πŸ› ️ #EarlyAccess #GameDev #IndieGame

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Game Title: Die Young
Developer: IndieGala
Platform Reviewed: PC (Steam)
Rating: In Early Access at present.
I had never heard of Die Young before reviewing it for review, but as it was installing I was reading up on the comparisons to Rust and The Forest etc. which made me narrow my eyes a bit. 
I have no issue with the survival adventure genre but it’s not something that I actively seek out. Whilst I can see the appeal of knocking up a log cabin with picket fence surround and a herb garden whilst nightly fighting off randomly spawning cannibals, it just isn’t for me. 
Die Young takes a different approach which immediately made me sit up and pay attention. 

Yes, the game is set on a cut-off island where crafting is needed in order to progress, but the main quest is clear from the start. Survive and GET OFF THE ISLAND.
This isn’t a game about collecting loads of stone, wood and iron to build a furnace in order to make a hang-glider, this is about knocking up a rough knife and a bandage and making the best of it.
The game starts with the protagonist, Daphne on her way to a tropical island with some friends  in a small dinghy, the next thing she knows, she’s been ‘buried alive’…well, more specifically ‘thrown into a well’. Climbing out of the well, she finds that she has been stripped of all belongings, down to her shoes (I can only assume that they were Hi-Tec Silver Shadows) and needs to find food, water…and a way off this cursed island.
What separates the game from others of its ilk is the focus on exploration and adventure over crafting and survival (although they are also in there). As you wander around, finding various landmarks on the rough map that you are given and locating side-quests and camp-fires to use (they act as save points), there’s a real sense of tension and intrigue at what you find. 
Enemies in the game come in the forms of wildlife (with stray dogs becoming almost an unofficial mascot for the game) and crazed locals who seem to hate you for some reason and attack you whilst hurling vitriolic insults, the little sausages.
As I made my way around, one of the main features of the game really clicked with me and that’s the verticality of it. Whilst you can’t climb anywhere as in the recent Zelda game, you can make your way up various surfaces and buildings in a way reminiscent of the towers in Farcry 3, scalable surfaces, ledges and hooks are marked out on the screen and Daphne reaches out towards them when a leap can be made, it lead to some seriously exhilarating sections where you make your way around crumbling buildings, rock-faces and farms (often with hidden sections containing loot).
As this is an early access game, there are caveats in its current state. Whilst most of the main game is there along with side-quests, etc. There are some bugs still to iron out, the in-game options can be finicky and have small glitches, combat feels a bit clunky (Daphne’s father taught her survival techniques and parkour…but not basic fighting skills, it would seem) and frame-rate issues can raise their head but it’s nothing game-breaking and the game feels surprisingly complete, if rough around the edges.
 Summary
The world of Die Young really drew me in and I found myself yearning to get home and have another hour on it, even playing it before work in the morning, (something I haven’t done since playing The Witcher 3 last January!) so it must be doing something right. 
Some players may find the crafting and survival aspect to be on the ‘light’ side, but the atmosphere, sense of freedom and locations are really appealing for those of us who love a good wander. 
The final stages of development for Die Young are something  I will be keeping an eye on and I hope lives up to its possibilities, which at this point are really revving my engine.
Right, I’m off to beat a dog to death with a stick.