Just Die Already is officially described as "an old people mayhem sandbox game created by the designers of Goat Simulator." Okay, so if that hasn't put you off and you're still reading then: You play as an old person (male or female) in a dystopian near-future where people aren't permitted to have any children – which is just as well if they turn out like some of the Millenials in this game.
Coming from the same bunch of lunatics as the inventive yet silly, clever yet glitch-riddled Goat Simulator, I knew what to expect, but wasn't quite prepared for how it'd stretch the extremes of funny and tasteless, and solid gameplay and disappointing glitchiness.
Once you've selected which old person you want to play as your first task is to escape your old people's home, wrecking the place and ruining a party being held for a recently deceased resident. Then as you explore and find new areas you're given an increasing number of tasks to complete (your Bucket List.) These can involve just about anything, from simply getting your character naked (it's ok, the oldies' dangly bits and ladyparts are pixellated) to being launched into outer space clinging to a huge rocket!
The gameplay is very freeform and sandboxy, and it's up to you to figure out what to do in order to complete your bucket list – I accomplished many requirements completely by accident, some are logical, others seem convoluted, next to impossible or actually are rendered impossible because of glitches in the game engine… But anyone who's played GTA or just about any open world game will know that virtual antisocial behaviour is always fun at least for a while, and stealing, taunting Millenials, peeing, vomiting, murdering in countless ways, driving/riding various vehicles (which have what is probably the worst set of controls, handling and physics since the 16-Bit days!) are all part of typical JDA session.
You'll soon discover that there are countless ways of dying or losing limbs; getting attacked by various creatures or other people, hit by psychopathic car drivers, the city tram, launched by air jets or manhole covers, getting electrocuted, burned or blown up to name but a few.
Just Die Already of course sells itself with its ridiculous physics and plenty of cartoony gore and dismemberment, as you lose limbs and even your head, but keep on rollin' as just a blood-spurting, bone protrubing pelvis (no, really – there are areas that can only be entered as a pelvis.) This part of the game owes a credit to a little-known game called NeverDead, although JDA is nowhere near as clever or polished.
The city is no Los Santos but it's a fair old size and a map would have been extremely useful, but stick with it long enough and you'll learn your way around and discover plenty to do in the five sections of the city (City Center, Docks, Zen Garden, Park, Sport Center.) You can actually attempt to play a few sports (soccer, tennis, baseball, basketball & swimming) but as with many sandbox games that attempt to include sports, they supply a few minutes of entertainment in multiplayer but are pretty hopeless.
Co-op allows up to 4 players and has 5 maps, the most attractive one obviously being the sizeable City Centre Sandbox where you can continue to fill your bucket list, with help or hindrance from friends or randoms. The other maps have various PvP adversarial modes and very different design styles: Pipe Fortress (pipes & platforms deathmatch), Swingers Arena (looks like a Gladiators arena with swing ropes), Crazy Joe's Apple Farm (apple collecting mayhem) and Convey Dome (another arena with conveyor belts and certain death beneath.) In the City Centre Sandbox you can obtain any items from the vending machines that you unlocked in the solo game or the co-op game, so you can pass them to friends or hog them to annihilate enemies… As with many sandbox games, playing JDA with other players is definitely more fun than playing solo, but chances are you'll only tick something off your bucket list by playing with friends and co-operating.
OK, so much for the mostly positive comments, now to the negatives… Every single time I load the game it tells me that "the player profile has changed, returning to the main menu" NO IT FLIPPIN' HASN'T! – Not a great start is it? Once into the game you immediately find that the Just Die Already world isn't terribly solid, and it's possible to clip through walls and get stuck in all sorts of places, in walls, under floors, behind scenery objects etc. – hence no doubt the existence of the quick respawn button ('Y') which, by the way, I unintentionally keep doing every time I want to use a vehicle (thanks GTA!) Glitches can ruin the game for many and several people I played with online had given up on the Bucket List because of them. Talking to them about JDA made me realise how patient and persistent a gamer I am, I must finally be mellowing…
In addition to the glitches, a few of the Bucket List's requirements can only be described as mental – I mean, do some developers (looking straight at you Curve Digital and DoubleMoose) honestly believe anyone is going to play nothing but their game this year? – Because at times you'd think so. Finally we also found at least two roll-around 'pelvis puzzles' that glitched every single time we tried to enter them, rendering completion impossible. I couldn't believe this made it into a finished game so uninstalled and reinstalled the game. Same result. Asking around a few people I'd managed to play online with and they had the same problems, plus a few other glitches too – which I won't catalogue here as they didn't actually happen to me – yet. I'm honestly not sure how a game spans lows like those, the abysmal vehicle physics and related glitches to highs (both literally and figuratively) like the various fun ways to fly and find your way to the high points in the city and the neat multi-part puzzle required to launch the space rocket – they occur in the same game world, but are worlds apart in terms of quality.
So… Just Die Already may not be completely terrible but its fun quotient is outweighed by its glitchy game engine, bizarre physics and sloppy controls. Any game that can't be completed because of recurring bugs (but let's hope they get patched, and if they do I'll update the score to reflect the fact) or expects you to complete frustrating requirements or to play it until it makes you start to laugh hysterically and reach the verge of madness loses both my attention (although maybe not soon enough as I'd achieved 700 Gamerscore at the point of giving it up as a bad job) and points off its review score, which is a shame as there are undoubtedly fun and laughs to be had here – even if you're a Millenial.
Special thanks to Renaissance PR for the review code.