There’s a fine line to tread between enjoying the fine art of swear mastery and simply sounding like a 13 year old testing the linguistic waters with his friends. Drawn To Death is so far over the line it’s got a peanut tie and stinks of Lynx Africa.
I was excited for Drawn To Death, even more so when it popped up on my PS Plus monthly list. That excitement was quickly dashed when I booted the game up and was left with my head in my hands. I’m not alone, many players were sorely disappointed by Drawn To Death’s inability to follow up on its bark with a bite. After enjoying a slew of verbal abuse I was hyped for a blood bath of adolescent multiplayer action. Instead, I was faced with arduous, clunky, and overloaded gameplay.
1. Perplexingly Convoluted Mechanics
There’s a game design rule that promotes simplicity in mechanics while affording players vast ability to complicate their roster themselves based on their skill level. This is how most titles design their skill systems or weapon options, allowing players to get to grips with the basics and learning each new move and superpower organically. It’s how you remember your moves, and become the master of timing and efficiency in when you should employ them. Drawn To Death does none of this and chooses to throw you in at the deep end and watch you drown.
Each character has specific base moves, and supermoves specific not only to their own abilities but specific moves that kick in against each individual other player. That’s a massive amount of information to dive in with, leaving players overwhelmed with button combinations. Rarely able to coordinate recognition of enemies with the appropriate trigger buttons and the correct timing makes for incredibly clunky play. Add to that the fact that most of these supermoves require a burdensome chain of commands and you’ll quickly find that the speed of your own movement and ability rarely matches that of the action around you. Which brings us to our next problem.
2. Time Is Of The Essence
As expected, the battle arena of Drawn To Death is a fast-paced, explosive environment. This frantic pace and hectic tone of adolescence is in line with the game’s overarching concept – and yet it’s severely undercut by the white-knuckle frustration of your own lethargic options. You want to be able to react to the world around you with as much precision and agility as you are being attacked with.
Waiting for your superpower to cool down, or charge up, or actually activate, or complete it actions makes this aspect of fast play virtually impossible. While there are more precise weapon classes that can be whipped out at a tap on the shoulder, these often deal a pitiful amount of damage to the apparently armour-laden enemies surrounding you. There’s an inherent disconnect here in the achievable speed of the player avatar and the speed of the environment that requires a heavy amount of tuning to make play less clunky.
3. It’s Ok, We Know You Can Swear
I’m by no means a ‘think of the children’ anti-swear propagator. In fact, i consider myself a bit of a creative swear connoisseur in my daily life. However, if there’s one thing i’ve learned it’s that with great swear power comes great responsibility. Sure, I can think of a dozen intricately structured, powerfully disgraceful, tear-jerkingly pungent swear phrases I can chuck around at any given moment, but you don’t want to be the guy who shouts them all the time and then looks around at the crowd waiting for the laugh. There’s a fine line to tread between enjoying the fine art of swear mastery and simply sounding like a 13 year old testing the linguistic waters with his friends. Drawn To Death is so far over the line it’s got a peanut tie and stinks of Lynx Africa. It gets really old, really fast. Swearing over game events is one of my most enjoyable aspects of play – so I don’t want someone else screaming it for me at every… fucking… move.
4. Does Gravity Not Exist Here?
Sometimes you forget just how much those little details add to a gameplay experience. Just last night I was playing Horizon Zero Dawn and felt an intense satisfaction at hearing my boots crunch on the snow and looking back to notice my footsteps behind me.
That’s what’s missing from Drawn To Death – i’m not being airy here – i mean literal footsteps. It seems that in this teenager’s notebook, characters move with a kind of ethereal, mopey looseness. It’s jarring to view, and abrasive to control.
5. Just What Am I Looking At?
I have to give it to them, the art style of Drawn To Death is spectacular. Each character comes to life beautifully and the innovation and creativity that has been injected into every environment and arena is refreshing to see.
That being said, it seems the developers found what they were good at, and threw more of it in than necessary. Too much of a good thing can be heartbreaking. It seems that Drawn To Death doesn’t understand that its particular whispy, penciled, delicate art style doesn’t do well with a lot of visual clutter.
6. All Bark No Bite
Drawn To Death tries to shout a good fight. I can stand a bit of verbal abuse at the start of a badass game, but when that game falls depressingly beige after the initial fire, things get upsetting. The considerable lack of bite comes from the catch-22 of the disappointing multiplayer game. Players don’t stick around here too long, and considering the title’s PS Plus spot this month, that’s saying something. So even if you are enjoying the gameplay, it’s likely that everyone else’s disdain will leave you with no one to take on in the near future.
Player count is already fairly sparse, and while future updates and clean ups may bring a few back it’s likely a lot of marketing work will be required to get the title back up to the full capacity of PS Plus launch day. On top of that the entire experience seems to fall entirely flat during actual playtime, with a handful of players roaming a flat environment randomly sending fireballs into walls in attempts to get a hit.
Don’t get me wrong, I think a lot of Drawn To Death’s elements carry a good spark of innovation. We have a roster of interesting, fun, and uniquely enjoyable characters parading through an equally enticing arena of a teenager’s notebook. It’s a nostalgic concept that awakens the raging adolescent in all of us, however for all its aesthetic and conceptual wins, there are considerable gameplay fails.
What did you think of Drawn To Death? Did you experience any of the issues I have, or did you come away with a completely different opinion of the game? Let me know down in the comments and we’ll make sense of it together.