101 Ways (For Your Computer) To Die
By Gwendolyn L. Spelvin
101 Ways To Die should have metaphorically killed at the gaming box office. But it didn’t.
For all of the great concepts, graphics, and ideas, Vision Games Publishing and parent company Four Door Lemon turned what should have been game of the year into a very bad after school special. The end result was a wasted effort that left players sucking on Four Door’s lemons as consolation for the hundred and one ways computers died trying to play it.
The idea that both a parent and subsidiary company dropped the ball with the latter’s first title is mind blowing. As a cross platform game, it is inexcusable that either company skipped a general welfare check on quality and assurance when the game sits at a meager 313MB fully installed on Windows. Even if the game was a port, its less than half a gig.
Whoever said the sentiment less is more never met the confused development hands on this deck.
Technical misunderstandings are evident from initial installation. With the noted exception of 2GB minimum, 4GB recommended memory, both minimum and recommended game specs list OS: Windows Vista or later, Quad core 2.5Ghz, DX 11 class graphic card with 1GB memory, and a DX11 compatible sound card. What’s wrong with that picture?
First off, nobody in their right mind would EVER run Vista on a gaming rig, with 2GB memory.
Anybody with access to a google search engine can easily find out a few historical PC platform facts. Most notably, Intel Core 2 Quad and Vista came out in 2006. Not a lot of people jumped on the quad bandwagon then because of the price. Not a lot of people jumped on the Vista bandwagon because of the bugs and fractured incompatibility of x64 software at the time.
Seriously, who the hell doesn’t remember the Vista crash and burn era born before the year 2000?
Yet ten years later, when quad cores are the cost effective norm, with memory going well beyond 16GB, and Windows having four OS versions, this game runs slower than a turtle on psychotropic drugs walking around a state funded mental institution.
Most would expect better from Four Door Lemon. After all, they are the developer behind the Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee offshoot Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee. It would stand to reason that 101 Ways To Die was in good hands, being overseen by such a team. In a perfect world the apparent walls of miscommunication, not enough beta test time, and a complete confusion between reality and fantasy on game specs would have never existed.
Instead, they created the mess on everyone’s hands, producing results that are only good for killing computers into the blue and black screens of death. Maybe that would explain the reason behind the first of many involuntary crashes and blue screen reboots during install. Or the exorbitantly slow snail’s pace title screen navigation. The pace fluctuates between creep and arthritic dragging during the training level, emulating a slow motion speed hack not seen since SimTower.
A cherry on top of the shit sundae is the many failed auto-save crashes that nine times out of ten will force close the game back to the Windows desktop after completing a level. Keep watch for the three to five-minute black screen; like Pavlov’s dog training, players will have to replay the training level to get back to where they last were. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
Elements of award winning greatness were there. A side scroller booby trap obstacle course with available disposable minions is an awesome idea; an eerily familiar high definition style of Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee with Mortal Kombat fatality carnage makes the concept even more intriguing. Rounding out this perfect package was a surprisingly small installation size, controller support, and OS support all the way back to Vista. Great finishing touches, right?
This is a game you just want to love but hate with a passion. A once in a blue moon title that puts in perspective as to why curiosity killed the cat. The concept is simple; lay traps in a dangerous environment and blow up test tube monsters at your disposal to ensure effectiveness. Who doesn’t love a side scroller throwback moment like that? Nothing says hours of mindless fun like subtle gore annihilation. How can any developer sans Digital Homicide mess that up?
Developers, starting with Four Door Lemon and Vision Games Publishing, need to be held at more accountability for teasing with false senses of playability security. No one likes being left in a metaphorical epic failure paradox, with no choice but to uninstall the abysmal waste of space from their hard drives. Ironically, they should be begrudgingly commended. They promised 101 Ways To Die and lived up to the name and the experience, even if it went terribly wrong.