Open-world, physics-based goofballs are a specific genre of game that skyrocketed to success due to bonkers games like Goat Simulator and Octodad. Just Die Already takes the genre, injects it with a bunch of boomers and a hefty bucket list, and expects you to have the time of your (short) life. Like a granny without a Zimmer though, it falls a bit flat and can’t get itself back up.
The Boomers Are Coming
You play as one of four old geezers chilling in a dingy retirement home. Out of nowhere, you decide that life cooped up in granny-bin isn’t worth living. You grab your bucket list, set yourself on fire a handful of times (maybe just me…) and get to work on escaping. Once you’ve popped a few balloons and unleashed the rage of a thousand pacemakers, you are yeeted onto the street, and the game begins properly.
Just Die Already starts fairly strong. The opening is short, has a handful of small tasks allowing you to get to grips with the controls and, more importantly, hazards. Once you leave your home, things go from alright, to pretty good. The open-world is just big enough to encourage exploration, but not so large that I got lost. It’s also dense with things to do, people to harass and obstacles to flail over. Each zone is visually unique and has plenty of things to see, do and discover.
The aforementioned bucket list is more than just a piece of paper, it’s a full-fledge journal that is filled to the brim with tasks to complete. These could be as simple as setting yourself on fire, electrocuting yourself, or hijacking a steamroller and flattening some cars. It adds a noticeable amount of direction to a game, and genre, that typically lacks it. Knocking things off your list rewards you with tokens and unlocks that add to the chaos. Popping down to a nearby vending machine lets you redeem token and nab some loot. This could be a bludgeon of some description, an explosive or just a pot lid. The more you do, the more you get, the more fun you can have – in theory.
Time To Push Up The Daisies
Just Die Already’s bucket list, for all of its strengths, does have a downside – the lack of freedom. Because progression is locked behind looking at your book and going off and fiddling with the things it tells you, there is less of an incentive to just find fun stuff. I got the distinct feeling that the game was trying to direct me towards what it thought was fun, as opposed to throwing me into an inherently bonkers world and letting me discover it for myself.
It doesn’t help that, for the most part, Just Die Already isn’t all that fun once the initial joke wears off. There is only so far an old person doing cooky things with wonky physics can take you before it starts to get bland. Dodgy controls and generally poor gameplay mechanics chip in to make things a tad unpleasant at all times. Running up to a dude and slapping him with a fish might sound great, but there is a not-so-insignificant chance that you’ll slap the floor randomly. Gunplay is equally as inconsistent, with bullets veering off in every direction.
The game’s main laughs come from the copious amounts of ultra-violence on display. Death is an inevitability in Just Die Already, but before you shake off your mortal coil, your boomer can quite literally fall apart. Getting hit by a car, fist or crab (to name a few) could result in a limb or getting removed. Or two limbs. Or your head. Heck, you could be left with nothing but your arse, and be forced to roll around as a semi-sentient midriff. Throw in broken bones, combustion and electrocution with a side-serving of chunky mass murder, and you have a recipe for the odd half-chuckle.
Just Die Already is a mostly grim experience solo. Things might pick up in multiplayer, however. You and up to three other mates can team up to cause havoc. Nothing much changes gameplay-wise, but you have more boomers and the companionship of people you probably like to cover it up. Throw in a bit of alcohol-related inebriation and there could be a good time to be had. Mileage will of course vary.
In terms of presentation, Just Die Already has a nice, cartoony style. The world is vibrant, the gore is explosive and the physics are whacky. The Switch does an admirable job of trying to keep things smooth, but it’s a losing battle. The game doesn’t run that great, and the actual graphical fidelity leaves a lot to be desired. It’s also riddled with more bugs than an elderly lads mattress. It at least sounds alright, even if it’s a tad forgettable.
Just Die Already is passable at best and bland at worst. Whether or not you’ll enjoy it almost entirely hinges on how tickled your pickle gets when thinking about a dismembered grandma running into a shop with a katana. Friends certainly help too. I personally got bored of the game’s premise after an hour and the janky gameplay didn’t help in the slightest.