Just Die Already tells the gut-wrenching story of an old person as they wake up one day, fed up with their retirement home. So the old person goes on a personal quest to rise up against their oppressors to take back their life. That might be a bit of an overdramatic way of explaining the premise of this game, but it’s not wrong. You do start by picking which old person to play as, and then you try to escape the retirement home. And as soon as you have busted your way out of there, you’re greeted with the rest of the game. And what is the goal of the rest of the game? The goal is to goof around as much as possible to fill out a “bucket list”.
Congratulations, you have escaped the retirement home! Now it is time to complete your bucket list. One thing I can commend about this is that there is no specific structure to completing it. After escaping the retirement home you are completely free to do whatever you want. There is no specific quest progression, no narrative to follow. You simply run around the open environment and beat the various tasks on your bucket list. You can even discover some characters who might give you an extra mission or two. And you do have some incentive to complete them, as beating a task rewards you with tickets so you can buy clothes and weapons from colorful vending machines found all over the map.
On paper I like this structure, the freedom it gives in completing your goals is commendable. However, I did not enjoy actually completing them due to how poor the controls are. Now, saying that the control itself is poor might be slightly unfair. Running around is fine, and the button mapping is perfectly acceptable. It’s all other aspects of control that I do not care for. Jumping is heavy and sluggish, making the occasional bit of platforming feel very clunky. Simply jumping out of a dumpster, which is something you’ll have to do every time you respawn after death, can be a hassle.
I am not saying that I expect you to jump around like Nintendo’s Italian plumber, you are an old man/woman after all. But when you simply spawn back into the world and you struggle with moving on, you know something’s wrong. I don’t find the sluggishness of this game’s jumping fun. It makes completing certain tasks less than enjoyable.
Speaking of stuff you can do, let us talk about “combat”. This isn’t an action game, but it does let you get hold of weapons, either picking them up in certain spots or by ordering them from the pink vending machine. And none of the weapons are really fun to use. The sound design is weak and there’s no real sense of impact in any way. I don’t ask for realism in a cartoony comedy game about geriatrics causing chaos, but if there’s lackluster auditory or visual feedback when I use items, it becomes way harder to engage with what’s going on.
Speaking of stuff, let’s talk about the presentation… it’s very average. The artstyle is alright, it has a nice, cartoony feel and some nicely vibrant colors. The overall graphics do look a little rough at times, but the charming style does kind of save it. As for music… there isn’t much to say. There is no background music, the soundscape is quite barren in that regard. You can encounter radios which play some music, but since you won’t be staying by these radios all the time you won’t hear music all the time. This does make the soundscape quite dull, which does make exploration slightly less engaging.
In another sad development, despite being intended as a comedy game, I never really laughed. I know I chuckled once when I accidentally stepped on a rake, but otherwise I didn’t find this game’s sense of humour that appealing. The running gag of “Grandma does wacky stuff, oh and now she lost a limb and there’s blood everywhere” doesn’t really hold up for me. There are some half-decent parodies and pieces of satire on signs and billboards, but that was less “Haha!” and more “Oh, I get it”. This game tries to be funny and wacky, but sadly I never really found any enjoyment in any of the humour.
While Just Die Already has a few decent things going for it such as the freedom and nice artstyle, it ultimately falters due to controls that often feel sluggish, an uninteresting soundscape, and a sense of humor that never really lands.
[A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review]