Part of me wants to explore new ground, venture into unknown territory. But games like Die Young remind me it’s probably not such a good idea.
In Die Young, Daphne, our plucky female protagonist, just wanted to let off some steam with her friends. So, throwing caution to the wind, they headed out in a dinghy to a remote island for some party time. Nice. Unfortunately it all quickly turns into a nightmare; with Daphne waking up at the bottom of a well, something has gone seriously wrong. Forget partying: her goal now is to simply make it off the island in one piece.
An open world survival horror game, your situation is dire at the start of Die Young. Your friends are missing, you have limited gear, and you’ve got no real escape plan; alone and unprepared, you’re going to have to explore the island and uncover its secrets if you want to escape. You’re largely left to your own devices in that pursuit, and so there are choices to make. Primarily, do you look after number one and prioritise your own survival, or do you actively search for your friends and help others along the way? It’s your call.
The island you’ve found yourself upon is vast, full of landmarks for you to discover. Much of what you see is picturesque, too, though you can’t really afford to just kick back and take it all in because of the dangers that lurk. You can largely determine the pace at which you progress through Die Young, however. Whether you charge headfirst through the tasks on your to-do list, or be adventurous and wander off the beaten path at every opportunity is up to you. The latter pays dividends though; you’ll find equipment that enables you to better withstand your surroundings, and crafting recipes that allow you turn junk and other items you find into things much more useful. There are even shelters to find where you can store items, which also serve as fast travel points.
Being a survival game, you need to keep yourself hydrated and scavenge whatever you can from the environment. Playing in Adventure mode it’s not much of a task, but in Survival mode it becomes much more of a prominent gameplay element. When it comes to your health though, there are two things way more dangerous in Die Young than potentially getting a thirst on. Falling from a great height is one of them. Being attacked by the locals of the islands is the other. And there are other dangers too, of course, such as snakes, boars and wolves.
You’ll be doing a hell of a lot of climbing in Die Young, whether it’s scaling a mountain to reach a structure on top, or searching through some cliffside ruins. For the most part it’s painless, but every once in a while Daphne will do something daft and fall to her death, or at least lose a decent chunk of health while also setting your progress back. There are plenty of pixel-perfect jumps to be made, too, which can catch you out from time to time. Thankfully you can craft campfires, allowing you to save your game anywhere. Well, providing you have the wood to do so.
Enemies, on the other hand, are best avoided where possible. In the early stages of the game that’s an easy task, regardless of whether your foe is human or animal – if something is likely to want to kill you on sight, just sneak through foliage or circle around it. When the locals start being equipped with crossbows capable of doing considerable damage from afar, however, it’s time to fight fire with fire, or up your stealth game. Unfortunately though, you can’t hide forever. In the latter portion of your fight for survival you’re forced to engage in combat, with enemy numbers upped considerably. It perhaps wouldn’t be so much of an issue if Die Young‘s combat system wasn’t so ho-hum. To get the game’s best ending, you’re likely going to have to resort to cheap tactics to defeat the onslaught of enemies it unexpectedly throws at you.
Ultimately, it’s the combat of Die Young that really brings it to its knees. You can just about forgive the unimpressive, blurry visuals on PS4, even though they make it harder to see important things. And you can give the occasional death-by-falling the benefit of the doubt; it may have been the game that didn’t quite read your inputs correctly, or you might have actually screwed up – just pick yourself up and try again. When the game starts forcing you to engage in battle with clunky controls and woefully basic mechanics, however, it simply becomes not fun.
If you like games that don’t hold your hand and let you figure things out for yourself, you should perhaps give Die Young a try. Even more so if you also have a taste for adventure. The world presented to you in this fight for survival is truly vast and varied, with rewarding secrets to be found in various nooks and crannies. As you approach the end of Die Young and strive to achieve the best ending out of the three available, however, be prepared for things to take a turn for the worse. While there are many frustrations to be experienced throughout, it saves its most severe for last.
Die Young Review: GameSpew’s Score