I’ve played games before which I don’t expect to like but then do and others that I have high hopes for but then disappoint.. On rare occasions though there comes a game which is so different to my outlook and so wildly off the mark that I simply cannot continue with it beyond the opening. Drawn To Death is certainly that kind of game.
I will take this opportunity early on to say this is not a review. It is impossible for it to be one as I played Drawn To Death for a grand total of about twenty minutes. Luckily for me it’s a part of April’s free PS Plus games so I downloaded it to try it out. It’s now been firmly deleted off my hard drive, never to return. From this point on are my thoughts on that first experience and how I felt the game did everything within its power to be everything I detest in gaming today.
Drawn To Death is a multiplayer shooter from the mind of David Jaffe, creator of the God of War series. I’ve played the first two God of War games and quite enjoyed them. The setting of Greek mythology as a background for Kratos taking vengeance on nearly everybody around him was something different, the boss battles against huge Titans were amazing and the action never really let up. Having had Zeus trick him into killing his own wife you could understand the anger levels Kratos would display on every given opportunity. Drawn To Death has none of that.
The entire game is drawn from the mind of a bored 14 year old boy’s notebook as he daydreams in class. The opening point of view video even shows a teacher up in front of the room trying to give some details of the lesson. We then see the notebook laid out on the desk and enter a world of chainsaws, Satanic imagery and being called a wank bucket at every available moment.
The game strongly encourages you to try out the tutorial first before you head off to the online arena. In this you are greeted by a frog who seems to hate you. In fact he seems to hate everybody. It’s the start of the undercurrent of sheer, unchained obnoxiousness that is so tightly woven into Drawn To Death that there is no break from it. There follows a few rooms in which you are taught your character’s special moves and how to use the various pieces of weaponry. Every step of the way you’re wandering through the same white paper corridors facing off with enemies that look like they’re hand drawn with a cheap biro. There’s a tirade of bad language which gets to the point of wearing really thin really quickly. This game is from the perspective of an unseen, angst riddled teenager and it portrays that extremely well. Almost far too well. I cannot recall the time that a game has failed to click so much with me. I am in my mid 30’s and would count drinking alcopops, hormone induced acne and being nervous about buying condoms as things I’ve left behind from my teenage years. I don’t look back upon them with much delight. The attitude displayed so readily in Drawn To Death would also make that list.
Drawn To Death bored me even in that short time. Even whilst using a small dragon to burn an armoured cat with three heads. ‘Press this’ went to ‘change loadout here’ and then to cockroaches that can only be destroyed by dive bombing them from above. It reminded me a whole lot of Anarchy Reigns, the often forgotten Platinum games arena brawler released about five years ago. I liked Anarchy Reigns because it had crazy characters in large battlefields. Unlike Drawn To Death it didn’t labour along with such a relentless and narrow mindset.
Having finished the tutorial I thought about jumping in to try the multiplayer. I have a slightly strange history with competitive FPS games in that I’ve never really got along with many of them. I was originally encouraged to switch from my planned PS3 purchase to get a 360 instead because a friend got me into Halo so much. We played a lot of Halo 3 and Reach a few years ago. I made a few friends through playing Bungie’s space marine odyssey. I ended up playing with people who were very friendly ad this helped the experience for obvious reasons.
As I hung around on Drawn To Death’s title screen I thought back to those days and then had a thought. If this game introduces new players by calling them shit stains then what will the actual community playing it be like? I had half a notion that, if the game itself was hostile, the community would surely follow suit as such behaviour was normalised. I’ve reached the age when being yelled at down a headset is something I really don’t want in my life. I reset back to the dash and deleted it off the library.
When I was around 15 years old I discovered Quake. I hadn’t played a great deal of Id Software’s Doom beforehand but Quake’s freeware demo had arrived on a cover disc with PC Gamer magazine. The soundtrack was composed by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame, a band I listened to a lot at that time. I was given the full game that Christmas and proceeded to rail gun a long line of demons down in a tidal wave of gore. Quake spoke to who I was at that time. I’d wager that going back to Quake now would leave me cold. I’m just not in that mindset anymore.
Most of my gaming these days is alongside my ten year old son. We’ve recently bought Stardew Valley and were happily tilling soil and fishing on Pelican Town pier the other night. Rather than satisfy myself with what I want to play (which does still happen after he’s gone to bed, Mortal Kombat X please take a bow) I find myself gaining far more by showing him how much fun games can be. I don’t really want gaming to be an isolating thing anymore. I’m going to give it a few years and I may well find him playing something like Drawn To Death. On that day I shall take the role of ‘Father shaking head in resignation’.
For me Drawn To Death is the ultimate example of ‘fun, if you like that kind of thing’. Try it, play it and see. If you have a PS Plus subscription like me then you really have nothing to lose. It shall forever be know to me as the game which made me feel my age.
All 36 years of it.