Review: Just Die Already
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Developer: Double Moose
Publisher: Curve Digital
Available on: XB/PS/PC/NS
(Guest reviewed by Ian Thompson)
We had a small glimmer of hope that Just Die Already might be more of the same from DoubleMoose Games AKA the same dev that gave us Goat Simulator. Coming as it does via publisher Curve Digital, as we’ve found in our reviews for another site, that can also be a fair barometer of general quality.
Billing itself as an *deep breath* ‘old people mayhem sandbox game’ it all starts to go wrong almost from the very beginning. As much as we tried not to, we inevitably found ourselves comparing this to Goat Simulator all too often. As with that, your geriatric charge is subject to a wayward ragdoll simulation that governs his movement.
The problem is that, upon waking up in the prison masquerading as an old people’s convalescent home, you can very well die before even making it out of the first room. We guess it’s a depiction of how just getting out of bed wrong once you’re past a certain age can be treacherous, heck this reviewer at forty-seven struggles sometimes. But in the context of a game, it just makes you wonder how this meant to be fun.
You see, Goat Sim was a delight mainly due to its gleeful silliness and the woolly physics engine. Just Die Already is almost trying too hard to be daft and in doing so loses track of the fact that games of this ilk are generally meant to be fun. Sure, there’s outliers like Mudrunner or Train Simulator 2, but JDA (if you’ll forgive our acronym) isn’t designed as a misery simulator.
Yet we found ourselves being miserable. The previously hilarious physics engine worked really well in the context of a stupid goat aping the Tony Hawk scoring system, but in a tight urban environment it’s nothing more than a hindrance. Not to mention that our bog-standard Xbox One struggled to cope with it on several occasions exhibiting slowdown for no apparent reason.
As well as our hardware groaning under the strain for what is not a particularly technically taxing game, the camera often proved to be our undoing as well as the numerous environmental hazards that invariably killed us. All in all, it made for a remarkably janky experience and we personally found it hard to get past this.
Doing away with the loose tasks Goat Simulator gave you, Just Die Already gives you a rather more tightly curated bucket list, though unlike the Morgan Freeman & Jack Nicholson film, there’s not much delight to be derived from it. More a list of arbitrary tasks with some goals obvious and others rather more nebulous. Along with an environment that will readily destroy you or make you lose a limb from just brushing an object and the wayward physics implementation, you’re far more reliant on luck than any actual skill.
Coupled with NPCs that range from indifference to outright killing you on sight for no obvious reason and the sometimes frustratingly vague collision detection, this feels like it belongs in the dumpsters that double up as your restart points when you inevitably succumb to your injuries. Or get electrocuted. Or burned. Or drowns.
It might be more fun in multiplayer co-op, but as a solo effort, Just Die Already is pretty joyless. We admit, our having reviewed on our very much neglected Xbox One was a definite mistake as the technical issues were probably compounded by our older hardware rather than our day-to-day PS5 we’d normally play on.
We get that Just Die Already could well be interpreted as social commentary for how younger people might treat their elders, but we’re not sure a zany physics sandbox is necessarily the right place for it.
Lost Words: Beyond The Page is a great example of how to do it with regards its diary format and platforming sections.
In conclusion, JDA might’ve got by in isolation as a curiosity, but when compared to its illustrious forebear, it simply isn’t much fun. Respect your elders indeed. One to steer clear of.