Developer: DoubleMoose Games
Release Date: May 20, 2021
I’m just going to come right out and say it – I liked Goat Simulator. It’s wildly outside my typical gaming genres, but I was surprised by just how much there was to do in the game, and how little of it was required in any way. So when I originally played the demo for Just Die Already back in June of 2020, I was anticipating more of the same.
If it hadn’t been part of the 2021 Yogcast Jingle Jam Bundle, I might never have given the game another thought. Since it was already in my library, I decided to give it another chance – it certainly wouldn’t be the first time I enjoyed a game more upon revisiting it. Sometimes, whether I enjoy something has more to do with my current state of mind and mood than with the quality (or lack thereof) of the game.
Disclaimer: At least of one of the screenshots I’m going to be including is heavy on the cartoon gore. If that bothers you, you might just want to skip the rest of this post – just know, you’re really not going to enjoy the game either. Cartoon gore is most of what it has going for it.
There are four playable characters to choose from, and they seem to only differ in appearance, so choose whichever one it will bother you least to see maimed over and over. You’re likely to cut off a hand (or worse) before you figure out how to get out of the room you’re locked in at the start of the game. Once you manage to enter the retirement home proper, you’ll find you’re still locked in. The only way to escape is to get yourself thrown out. It’s not terribly difficult, but it might be awfully gory, and by the time you’re tossed out on the street, you could be missing an appendage or two.
Which is, pretty much, a big part of the game. At its core, Just Die Already is a ragdoll physics sandbox. Shortly after being removed from your former living arrangements, someone hands you a “Bucket List” – completing objectives on your Bucket List will unlock cosmetics and usable items. It may also grant you tickets, which you’ll need to collect at least 50 of if you want to hit up a vending machine for a retirement package to Florida.
This isn’t a game you’re going to be playing for a deep, meaningful story that will stay with you. No, this is a game you play when you want to see cartoon old folks broken and bleeding in new and interesting ways. You can respawn anytime you want, or you’ll automatically respawn if you run out of blood or removable body parts. Which is to say, you’ll be dead (or nearly so) quite often. Everything in this game wants to break you.
In fact, there are certain places you cannot access unless you’re missing the correct limbs, and if you want all those tickets and cosmetics, you’ll want to go everywhere. There are some definite puzzle components, not just in how to maim yourself correctly to get past locked doors, but as you visit new areas, new Bucket List items get added to your journal, and figuring out how to complete the tasks does have some definite puzzle-game vibes.
For me, the puzzle parts and the collectible parts were not enough to compel me to play through the game. I felt like the floppy controls were the complete opposite of what I would want in a physics based puzzler, and the “humor” of it all just wasn’t to my taste. Watching granny drop trou and urinate on a live wire just doesn’t do it for me. I found I was frustrated more often than amused, and for me, that’s just not a recipe for a satisfying evening of gaming.
SteamDB estimates that Just Die Already has sold between 31,200 and 85,900 copies on Steam. Reviews seem to indicate that most people knew what they were getting into, and they were there for it. It is ranked 2333 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.