Death by Game Show – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Strategy, Tower Defense
Developer: Oointah
Publisher: Oointah
Platforms: PC, Linux, Mac
Tested on: PC

Death by Game Show – Review

Site Score
7.5
Good: hybrid of twitch-action and tower defense, unique storyline concept, visuals are good, clear pop-culture references
Bad: challenges and gameplay are repetitive, sound design is just meh
User Score
8.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Death by Game Show is an fast-paced action-packed twitchy tower defense-like strategy game developed and published by the Minnesota based indie game development studio Oointah. Influenced by the movie Idiocracy, the game features a plethora of pop culture references and combines it in a neat little cartoon styled package.

death by game show

Story

A long time from now, in the 26th century, robots have taken over the world. Humankind has become utterly stupid and the robots are over the moon because of this fact. The fact that this game is inspired by the movie Idiocracy is clear by now. And just like in the movie itself, there is one last smarty pants standing. The lovable character U.H. Wutt, they really wanted to pack a punch with his name, demonstrates an acceptable level of intelligence to the dismay of the ruling robots. They robots will not stand for this and thus they decided to use U.H. Wutt like we have used them in the past; for their sadistic enjoyment.

The poor mortal has been sentenced to his demise by forcing him to participate in a game show, rigged with tons of death traps. He is the last brainy human and instead of surviving hordes of zombies, he must face mobs of angered droids in the Death by Game Show while being chained to the less than helpful GameShow Intimidation Masheen of Pwnage, better known as The G.I.M.P.

Graphics

Visually the game doesn’t necessarily screams pop-culture. It doesn’t look like any of the animated classics such as South Park, The Simpsons or even Scooby Doo but the 2D cartoon styled visuals with a large range of colors is somewhat charming in its own way.

death by game show scr01

The player is dropped on a planet at the start of each level. Planets can range from wastelands to icey deathtraps to lush greenlands. Noteworthy is that the backgrounds often feature several tips and hints for the player. The combinations and variations of the backdrops are a great way to keep players interested while they are facing angry mobs. While the curve-like design is supposed to make the player truly feel like on a planet, it reminded us an awful lot of the splendid game REUS.

Sound

The majority of pop-culture references are found in the narration that is slowly building up with each level you complete and in the form of sound design. An unmistakable reference to Total Brutal is the Governor shouting, “Get to the choppa!” when you’ve completed a level and the rocket landed on the platform. The remaining sound design is mostly comprised of an irritating looping-like ambiance sound and a plethora of blasts. Here and there you’ll hear some lines that should refer to a movie or something but you’ll lose track of that pretty fast thanks to the fast-paced twitch-action.

Additionally, the main menu is interactive much like the interactive background in Hearthstone and clicking on anyone in the audience will reward you with several silly one-liners in robotic voices. It’s a neat little feature but one will not stay in the menu for too long.

death by game show scr02

Gameplay

The gameplay itself is pretty straightforward as the goal for each challenge is stated in the upper right corner of the screen but the controls can be a little tricky. You can use the traditional keyboard with the mouse or you can use a controller. The latter one is not really advised as the game has several droids, buildings and power-up consumables. Even the keyboard can take a while to get used to but it’s a lot easier since you have access to more keys. Luckily you can reconfigure your keybindings for both the keyboard and the controller, making the gameplay slightly easier if you can play it in your own gaming style.

When the adorable character U.H. Wutt lands on a planet, he is immediately chained to The G.I.M.P., his not so helpful companion. Escaping the planet is rather futile however since you’ll only be able to play within a certain range on the planet. Each side is enforced with a large zapper that will instantly kill you and your droids. When you first start, you’ll have access to only one kind of droid but this number increases steadily when you complete levels. Calling upon droids costs energy from G.I.M.P. and his energy levels can be depleted rather fast if you are not careful enough. Death by Game Show is not a shooter by design and the player cannot use U.H. Wutt to shoot his way through the endless waves but the player can use his robotic grappling hook arm to pick up coins at a reasonable distance away from the enemy droids.

death by game show scr03

As for the droids, each droid has its range and special ability. There’s Hammie the Protective Blocker which will slow incoming enemy droids without harming them. He is great when teamed up with damage dealing droids such as Watu the Cannon Fodder or Madichin the Rapid Melee droid. These droids are found on the bottom “action-like” bar. While droids are rather dapper, they will need back-up fire from buildings to increase the maximum amount of damage dealt and to increase their life-time. On the right-hand side of the screen you’ll find a secondary “action”-bar. The buildings are varied and will help you reach your goal when used strategically. This is the tower defense strategy feature in the game. Cannon Mess the Frontline Building is a building specifically designed to deal with aerial droids while Rectal Furnance the Backline Building can speed up G.I.M.P.’s energy recovery.

The first few levels are dead simple and are in a tutorial form. Slowly but surely the levels increase in difficulty. The challenge objectives per level can vary from simply surviving the droid attacks until the rocket lands to earning a certain amount of cash to destroying enemy buildings. There is not a lot of variation in the challenges, especially when you consider that there are over fifty levels to complete – for now.

death by game show scr04

Death by Game Show offers players the ability to make their own Death by Game Show experience by building their own challenges and publicizing them on the Steam Workshop. The editor needs to be unlocked as well which can take a good chunk of time.

Conclusion

Death by Game Show is packed with pop culture references and is certainly not your average game. It’s easy to pick up and start, once the controls have been adjusted or learned, and it’s hard to put down. While the sound design can be categorized as meh, you’ll be surprised of its addictive although repetitive gameplay that will surely challenge you. Visually the game is fine but its biggest feature is the unique storyline concept and its combination of twitch-action and tower defense.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Death by Game Show - Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Drydwen


Hi! I'm Jess and Iā€™m a writer, dreamer and gamer at heart since the early ages. I primarily game on PC but occasionally also on PS4 and Xbox One. I have a tiny obsession for World of Warcraft and caterpillars but you may also claim I have a devoted passion for the gaming industry in general. If you want to hit me up, find me on twitter!

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