Seeing as we’re still in the spooky season—yes, I’m in denial, I know—I opted to review You Will Die Here Tonight, which is a top-down horror survival game that delivers some really amazing visuals and a slick retro feel that doesn’t completely deliver on the experience. However, genre fans will no doubt love and appreciate the shift between third and first-person perspectives and the title’s interesting roguelike elements. Just understand that the grinding sound you hear may not be the bones of the undead so much as your own molars as you cycle through permadeaths.
In You Will Die Here Tonight, you play as six members of an elite special operations squad, dubbed the Aries Division, tasked with investigating why a wealthy man would murder his wife and progeny, a mission that ends up becoming more about surviving a haunted mansion. The opening provides a few clues that something may be up, well, something more than the zombies anyway. The first is a note that anything you find can be used to help someone else escape, which is pretty ominous, followed quickly by a photo that features the adage, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” So, yeah, clearly, there’s going to be some sort of time loop involved in this (Or is there?). Your team all enters together, but an attack by someone or something quickly separates you all. After that, it’s off to the races as you play each character in turn after your previous character dies.
If you guessed that the title not only expects each character to die but incorporates these deaths as a mechanic, you win a cookie. The upside is that each decision or discovery each character makes can get paid forward to the next, and yes, your inventory transfers. That is a really nice feature. Exploration is done in a top-down view that allows you to see a greater area and thereby identify traps or treasures. Combat occurs as a first person minigame that is either triggered by your character drawing a weapon on a monster, or a monster grabbing your character. Both types of gameplay are well-realized, and the game transitions smoothly between both modes.
You Will Die Here Tonight also offers a series of puzzles, which are generally what you’d expect in this kind of game. You move statues based on clues or play instruments in a correct sequence; you get the idea. The puzzles actually manage to hit that sweet spot between being challenging without becoming frustrating, though there are a few that veer way into throw your keyboard at the wall territory.
You Will Die Here Tonight does require that you cycle through a series of deaths. You basically get six chances to get through the title, one life for each character because when the character you play dies, they die, and you have to switch to someone new. As you might anticipate, each character has different strengths and weaknesses, but even more interestingly, the characters may or may not have individual quests that tie into the main story or to collection quests. I mean, I suppose you could theoretically play on a single character, but I’m not convinced that it is designed to allow for that kind of play.
You Will Die Here Tonight doesn’t have an overwhelming number of enemy types, so while the combat is fun and well-managed, it does get repetitive, even when you find yourself dying to yet another wave of zombies. That said, I prefer dying to the monsters over getting killed by puzzles or game events that further the story. With six chances, those deaths feel like a bit of a waste. Yeah, sure, later on, you start to learn the hows and whys of these deaths, but it’s still frustrating.
My other real gripe is that we don’t really get enough time with the characters for the deaths to hit home as more than an inconvenience. There’s even a major plot event that should really impact you as you play that just falls flat because frankly, the characters don’t really feel as though they matter as characters so much as tools with which you play. Don’t get me wrong, it’s entirely fine to have titles in which characterization is on the backburner, but You Will Die Here Tonight wants very badly to be story-driven.
If you loved the old Resident Evil games, and I mean the older ones here, you’re going to get a real charge out of You Will Die Here Tonight. It puts a refreshing twist on the zombie survival genre that makes it mostly fun even in those situations in which it becomes frustrating. That said, the title is not very long, about five to six hours of gameplay depending on how fast you navigate zombies. That said, there’s enough that’s really cool about You Will Die Here Tonight to justify the $15.99 retail price on Steam at the time of writing.
- I really love the sound design. There’s no real voice acting, but there’s something about the almost keyboard-like tapping noises.
- I realize that I give the impression that the story is meh, and that isn’t true. The story is engaging, but the characterization just kind of falls flat. The one-liners are great, though.