Some games live and die based on their gameplay; I wouldn’t say SanctuaryRPG was a fantastic graphical tour de force, for instance, but it’s an addictive RPG despite only having ASCII graphics. Others are all about their story; your average visual novel is just a book, really, but some of them are worth the read. And some games are all about the comedy.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day, for instance, remains pretty hilarious even to this day. South Park: The Stick of Truth nailed the South Park-style in a way no other game managed to. And today’s subject, Death by Game Show…well, it’s in a class of its own.
Death by Game Show’s sense of humor is the game’s most noticeable trait from the moment you press start. This can be a good or a bad thing, really, depending on your taste. This isn’t highbrow or anything; we’re talking comedy on par with early 2000s Newgrounds games, and Death by Gameshow tries really, really hard to make you like it. The game show’s host rambles on about “Federal Pound-Me-in-the-@ss Prison,” rape of course being a hilarious joke. “Get to the choppa!” cries the Governator at the end of a level, suggesting that the game’s developers somehow fell into a portal from ten years ago. The laughs, such as they are, really never end. You’ll either find this charming or want all the little robotic characters to burn in Robot Hell.
Assuming you don’t lean toward the latter, you can move on to actually playing the game. It’s a 2D tower defense-ish experience that brings to mind 2009’s Swords and Soldiers. You play U. H. Wutt (get it?!), a portly guy with a robotic arm that can give coins the ol’ reach-around…ugh, now I’m doing it. He’s been sentenced to Death by Game Show for being too smart by the standards of the 26th century. Wutt is largely defenseless, so you’ll need to build droids of your own to fight off the robotic hordes that want you dead, as well as dealing with buildings in both the foreground and background. Your robotic army ranges from mobile bombs to pusher robots that shove and shover robots that push; you can also set up towers, of course, this being a tower defense game.
While your presence on the battlefield is this game’s most unique element, it’s actually more of a liability than anything. This means you have to watch out for yourself as well as your troops and towers; you are, fortunately, able to pause time to deal with the minutiae of building without getting destroyed. You’ll need this to deal with over 50 challenges, ranging from surviving a given amount of time to causing enough destruction to earn a given amount of money, and your character’s relative weakness means none of them are going to be easy.
Death by Game Show’s graphics are cute, with unique-looking robots and a nice cartoon art style. The sound, meanwhile, include the aforementioned choppa quote as well as other hilarious clips of similar quality, so you may or may not want to avail yourself of the volume controls. Again, the defining point of this game is its humor and that’s what’s going to make you love or hate this one. You might want to check out a Let’s Play or something before you buy.
As a game, Death by Game Show works well enough to earn the coveted Yay. Fans of Swords and Soldiers are going to enjoy this one, and the presence of your character on the battlefield is a nice nod to classics like Sacrifice and Brutal Legend. This sort of game isn’t especially common these days, so it’s worth a look if you can deal with the comedy. Because hoo boy, there’s a lot of comedy. Never-ending piles of comedy.