Death Come True is not exactly a puzzle game, but there are puzzle and mystery elements scattered throughout. The premise of the game- navigate various video scenes, making decisions at key moments that impact the flow of the story. Many of these choices lead to death, but rather than being penalized for death, you’re rewarded for it, collecting “death medals” for each death reached and unlocking secret videos for collecting many of these.
Given that this isn’t quite a puzzle game, my review is going to stay at a slightly higher level- there aren’t enough “puzzles” for me to outline and classify. I’m going to highlight only two components- story and gameplay.
Death Comes True has a very unique setup – reading the description on Steam, our team was so intrigued that we bought and played immediately over the course of about 2.5 hours. We didn’t even watch much of the trailer and didn’t know what to expect.
You play as Makoto Karaki (and the game never lets you forget it- everyone calls him by his full name for the duration of the game), a man who wakes up in a hotel room, with no memory of who he is or how he got there, but who immediately witnesses a news broadcast revealing that he’s a notorious serial killer. There’s an unconscious woman in the bathtub and a policeman knocking at the door, and Makoto Karaki faces an uphill battle mitigating immediate threats long enough to figure out what’s going on and why.
Our group really enjoyed the story, which threw enough ridiculous twists at us to keep us wildly entertained throughout. My favorite stretch of the game was the part toward the beginning, where you have enough familiarity to be comfortable with how the game works, but you still don’t have any of the key pieces to understand how all the crazy occurrences fit together.
Unfortunately, the answers come a little too quickly and a little too early for my tastes. About halfway through the game, players get the answers to nearly all the questions, and the latter half of the game feels a little bit like a wrap-up. We liked how the pieces fit together but wish the answers could have been spread out a little more to keep the mystery alive for longer.
Though the game has many choices, the story is ultimately quite linear (and kills off players who steer off track), though it does have multiple endings based on player actions.
The gameplay was pretty simple, with a few puzzle elements (remembering key details, figuring out how certain characters would react to certain comments). There’s no penalty for solving a puzzle incorrectly, and in many cases it’s actually rewarded with a unique death scene, so there’s not much pressure to keep track of all the details.
The closest comparable is Black Mirror: Bandersnatch- the Netflix choose-your-own-adventure movie/game. If you’ve played Bandersnatch and enjoyed it, or didn’t really enjoy it but thought the concept was neat, you’d probably enjoy Death Come True.
We played as a group by voting at each choice- only once did we have a 2-2 tie that we had to break using a random number generator, but for all other choices we had at least a 3-1 consensus.
With an unpredictable plot, sometimes the choices and consequences feel a little arbitrary. This isn’t a real outcome in the game, but it illustrates the level of “crazy” we’re dealing with:
A stranger knocks on the door to your room, and you let him in. He offers you a gun. You have a choice to choose “Accept” or “Decline.” You choose “Decline.” A time-traveling ninja appears and beheads you.
While it may seem a little arbitrary sometimes, elements like this were what made the game incredibly entertaining for our group to play through. This kind of craziness dies down just a little toward the end, but it definitely made it fun to speculate what wild thing would happen next.
There was one part of the game I didn’t enjoy- at about the halfway mark, the game clearly encourages you to take an action that may waste a lot of your time. It’s possible this was just our group’s interpretation, but it seems to me that most groups would react the same way we did, take an action that has no payoff, and spend a little too much time making up for that action.
For the most part, the gameplay did its job and made us feel involved with the story.
Death Come True was a fun game to play through with a group, grab a drink, and hang out for a few hours. I wouldn’t recommend to puzzle enthusiasts looking to scratch a puzzling itch, but the game puts together a solid mystery that works for a more laid-back evening. It’s slightly more interactive than a movie, but much less than most puzzle games.