Genre: Third-Person Arena Shooter
From the Minds of Madmen.
Drawn to Death is a product of David Jaffe, known for his work on God of War and Twisted metal. Jaffe has a typically shocking and violent style which in DtD translates into a juvenile shooter, set inside the sketchbook of an angsty high-schooler. Being set within a sketchbook, the game adopts a hand-drawn aesthetic for both characters and environments that works surprisingly well.
The characters are arguably the biggest selling point of the game. Each of the seven is visually distinct from the last and each has two special attacks and a set of passives that give a satisfying tactical element to gameplay. Diabla Tijuana is able to whip enemies in a cone in front of her, with more damage being dealt the closer they are, while Ninjaw can use her anchor to restrict the movement of enemies, allowing for easy targeting. These skills can be put to use in a variety of game modes, from 1v1 brawls to a four player take on capture the flag that has players collecting each other's hearts.
Special attacks all have cooldowns and so players will rely on an arsenal of 26 imaginative weapons. These weapons range from standard assault rifles to the "JRPG", a console shaped weapon that fires cartridges, which then explode forming pixelated characters.
Finding a balance between the skills of your character and your loadout can be enjoyable but is very easily broken, especially with some weapons being unbalanced and unfair. Unlocking weapons is especially grindy, but that relates to a larger problem we'll look at later.
Actual gunplay is a bit of a mess. Characters feel floaty, with jumps lasting ages, the addition of double jumps makes you feel as is you never quite have full control of your character, especially when trying to collect ammo and health pick ups. Guns also feel a touch inaccurate and underwhelming.
The game's sense of humour is very hit and miss. The more subtle jokes, found within the weapon and character designs work well as a cartoonish parody of the mind of an estranged teenager, but there are times when these jokes are a little overbearing. The Frog character and the Announcer are especially guilty of this.
The Frog serves as the guiding voice, teaching the player the basics of gameplay, menus and matchmaking etc. Much of his text-based interactions with the player, revolve around him patronizing the player and providing hints that relate to nothing in game. This wears thin very quickly, luckily, he isn't voiced, unlike the announcer.
The Announcer is quite possibly my least favourite part of this game. During matches he'll constantly break into vulgar rants about how you're low on health or how poorly you or opponents are playing. Again this goes from tolerable to downright annoying, very quickly. The poor voice acting for the announcer and in general doesn't help either.
A Broken Economy
From what I understand, DtD was meant to release as a free-to-play title, eventually becoming a paid game. It may not be fully priced game, selling for around R319, but the fact that the game has adopted a free-to-play economy is inexcusable.
Both blood keys and mystery boxes are painfully slow to unlock. Mystery boxes, which unlock cosmetic items are unlocked every 150 in game kills, which may not sound like much, but each match has a 10 kill limit, and matches are not constant, meaning that the player base is already dwindling. I hardly ever got to take part in four player matches, with most of my time spent in 1v1 brawls.
All these factors make getting kills frustrating, pushing players to buy mystery boxes directly, Overwatch style.
The blood keys cannot be purchased separately, but are earned through leveling, which gradually slows. Unlike mystery boxes, which offer cosmetic rewards, blood keys directly affect gameplay since they are the currency used to unlock weapons. Players can purchase a larger variety of stronger weapons, than those who are underleveled, making for an annoying experience. Blood keys can also activate "sphynx" riddles but I haven't stuck around long enough to figure those out.
Movement and gunplay both feel floaty and inaccurate, especially when fewer players are involved, as is the case most of the time.
The humour is more annoying than it is welcome and does a lot to put players off. These vulgar, overbearing jokes, coupled with a free-to-play economy, will annoy a lot of players into dropping the game.
Final Verdict: 5/10
- Characters are all unique and fun to learn
- Artstyle is great to look at
- Good variety in game modes
- Floaty and inaccurate gameplay
- Awful, cringeworthy humour
- Manipulative economy
- Inactive playerbase at launch