You Will Die Here Tonight Review - Empty Residence
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You Will Die Here Tonight Review - Empty Residence

In the opening of You Will Die Here Tonight (YWDHT), my Resident Evil-inspired super-cop solved a confusing book-based puzzle and ventured into a secret underground lab, where she was then met with a monologue from her ally-turned-enemy. To my surprise, this Albert Wesker-like big bad then shot my character dead--all in the first 15 minutes. It was like starting a Resident Evil game in the final scene and then getting a dark ending where the villains prevail. With a touch of meta commentary on the genre, this unconventional introduction was an intriguing start, but also the last part of the game I truly enjoyed, as the game thereafter ran through too-common horror tropes without cleverly subverting or enhancing them ever again.

In the aptly titled You Will Die Here Tonight, Resident Evil is the blueprint for a two- to four-hour-long isometric, survival-horror game with a touch of roguelite progression. That fun intro I detailed would've been a neat story track to stay on, as the big bad who seems to prevail quickly discovers there's another unseen hand, more powerful than her own, that is pulling the strings. But the game oddly drops this pretense in favor of a roguelite system whereby, when a character dies, you assume the role of another member of A.R.I.E.S. (the legally distinct and totally-not-S.T.A.R.S. division of police officers) keeping all story items with the opportunity to recover other scraps if you can find the body of your predecessor.

The dissonance between that story-heavy opening scene and what follows winds up feeling like two different games that somehow both made it into the final version. Each character plays the same but offers different text lines, with a few seeming quite serious and others offering bothersome jokes that wouldn't land at some middle school lunch tables. The mansion-like setting with secret labs, a torture dungeon, and some high-end offices and libraries is very much akin to a setting from Capcom's seminal series, and the roundabout way you navigate this space--solving convoluted puzzles and gathering various items to open doors and collect new weapons--is all meant to take you back to the late '90s, when games like this were most prevalent.

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