Drawn to Death is a hard game to discuss, let alone review. It has been a week since release, and I find myself coming back to it occasionally to play a few matches. The game has some cool ideas, but ultimately there are aspects of its gameplay that leave much to be desired. Apart from a distinct art style and over-the-top sense of humor, Drawn to Death can feel pretty unremarkable.
Game Name: Drawn to Death
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer(s): The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Price: $19.99 (Free for PS Plus subscribers during the month of April)
Drawn to Death is a multiplayer, third person competitive shooter in the style of a high school student’s sketchbook. Characters and environments are etched in pen on top of notebook paper, complete with plenty of skulls, flames, and blood. The game even opens with live-action footage of a teacher lecturing a classroom of bored students, before one turns to his notebook sketches and the game begins.
You may begin the game with a brief tutorial, which puts you in the shoes of Johnny Savage, one of six playable characters. While you are getting used to the game’s mechanics and your character’s special abilities, a drawing of a dissected frog will relentlessly hurl abuse your way more than it gives players useful tips.
After an optional tutorial, players will have several modes from which to choose. Some of them ranked, where there are consequences for failures and successes, and some unranked, where there are no consequences. Additionally, you may play in “classic deathmatch” mode, or in team-based modes. I would have liked to see a cooperative splitscreen mode, but it is possible additional modes and features will be added to Drawn to Death down the road.
There are six characters to choose from, each with their own set of abilities. To the game’s credit, these characters feel different to play. The most fun I had with Drawn to Death was testing the different characters to see which one felt the best (Diabla Tijuana was my favorite, but that’s neither here nor there). Because matches are limited to four players, it is rare that the same character repeats on the battlefield. This makes gameplay more interesting, as each character is equipped with unique strengths and weaknesses. But matchmaking could take a while, which I found odd for a game that pits only four, or sometimes just three, players against each other.
When selected, the special moves and abilities are usually mapped to the left and right triggers. Using the same buttons for abilities as shooting personally felt counter-intuitive, and took the most adjustment.
There are a variety of weapons to choose from, some of which are available from the start, and others which must be unlocked by playing more rounds. Weapons range from run-of-the-mill guns to the much more absurd (Like a poop-flinging monkey. I wish I was kidding). While Drawn to Death features some very unusual weapons, I found myself leaning towards traditional guns more than anything. These felt the most familiar, and not to mention less clunky.
Some weapons felt slower and more ineffective than others, which makes Drawn to Death a game of trial and error. Try different characters and different weapons to determine what feels the most comfortable. While choices will vary from player to player, I felt there were some inconsistencies in ease-of-use when it came to weapons. Additionally, the melee attacks also felt ineffective, which I found to be true for each of the characters. It is so difficult to get hits in at close range that eventually I stopped trying.
Drawn to Death’s art style and design is certainly its most interesting feature. Somehow, it works for a competitive shooter and keeps things interesting. Its sense of humor is also in line with its over-the-top art style and characters, but it can be a bit much. The game is littered with f-bombs, toilet humor, and plenty of verbal attacks on your character and skill. Sure, it wouldn’t feel quite right if Drawn to Death wasn’t at least a bit crass. However, I couldn’t help but feel the game is not as clever as it hopes. When trying to be edgy, it could come off as obnoxious and even annoying, especially when the commentator would drone on through the controller speaker. Hearing the same quips over and over again gets old, and if this is true for a game that has only been out a week, I can’t imagine this game’s sense of humor will stay fresh for very long. Of course, these things will mostly be dependent on your personal preferences.
If you are able to pick up Drawn to Death for free sometime this April, you might have some fun with it. It is by no means a terrible game; it has enough character that it may gather a loyal fanbase going forward. Still, long wait times for matchmaking, clunky weapons and melee attacks, and an oftentimes obnoxious sense of humor can detract from the experience.
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- Clever artstyle
- Characters look and feel different to play
- Combat is fast-paced
- Gameplay feels counter-intuitive at times
- Melee attacks and certain weapons feel ineffective
- Long wait times for matchmaking