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Suda 51 details his upcoming "survival action" brawler Let it Die

The ghost in the machine.

What happens when you die in a video game? What do you leave behind? Sometimes it's a bag of loot. Other times it's a number on a leaderboard. And if its a Souls game, it's a hollowed out replay of your final moments. But Suda 51's upcoming arena brawler Let it Die has a different, far more original take on death. When you fall, your player data will manifest itself as an enemy in someone else's game. Your remnants will keep your gear and emulate your general playstyle, only now they'll wreak havoc for any unfortunate souls who stumble upon your untimely final resting place. You become, quite literally, a ghost in the machine.

We're not sure if you're actually a ghost in Let it Die's narrative, however, as director Suda 51 is keeping a lot of details close to his chest on this mysterious game. He does say, though, that "it's not as story-driven as what we did in the past," and that the skateboarding grim reaper in the game's logo will play a pivotal role in the plot. Regardless of how any of this blood-letting is framed, there's something strange in the neighborhood. This is a Suda game after all.

It's a novel approach to the third-person brawler, but it's not Let it Die's only daring design choice. Players won't have a giant inventory in their pockets - or even pockets at all in some cases. Instead, you spawn as an avatar in their skivvies and need to acquire weapons and clothing on the spot. Suda calls Let it Die a "survival action" game and he notes that this limited inventory lends the game a more vulnerable feeling than we usually get in the genre. "It's not like a typical RPG where you go into a menu to select your weapons," he explains.

Let it Die won't be chapter based, but will instead have battle arenas.

Since a players' visual design is limited to whatever clothing and weapons they can get their grubby little hands on, everyone will have a constantly evolving look. And the moment a player falls in battle, their player data will resume with whatever they had on during their last breath.

When asked what inspired Suda to employ this system, he noted that it was primarily a method of bolstering the game's replay value. "The core concept was 'how do we get players to repeat play without getting bored?'" he says. "We thought if we could put other player data into it, they'd have different characteristics each time you play."

Suda won't comment on if you fight other players directly, or just battle their data.

Astute followers of Suda's studio Grasshopper Manufacture will recall that the developer announced a title called Lily Bergamo last year, and it turns out that it and Let it Die are actually the same game, Suda decided to reboot Bergamo as Let it Die on PS4 so he could better realise the player-data-as-enemies-concept he'd already had in mind. That's all well and good, but what happened to the blonde ninja woman we saw in the Lily Bergamo announcement trailer?

For whatever reason, Suda won't say. When asked about her, he merely notes that Let it Die isn't a character-driven game and that the scantily-clad man in the trailers is simply an avatar representing you. This doesn't really answer the question, so I ask if you'll be able to play as any female characters (possibly that resemble the MIA Lily). Suda starts to answer before a PR person interrupts. "PR won't let me specify that. Sorry," he apologises.

"Would you like it to have female characters?" he asks.

"Yes," I tell him. "Yes I would."

"I think so too," he smiles agreeably, seemingly unaware of the awkwardness of the exchange.

Let it Die sounds like something of a departure for Suda and Grasshopper. The studio is known for making excessively stylish, narrative-driven surrealist adventures that are usually plagued by at least somewhat shonky mechanics, but Let it Die is focusing first and foremost on deep combat and replayability. Without any gameplay footage to show beyond the scant glimpse we get in a trailer montage, it's impossible to gauge how it feels. But the eccentric developer is leaving its bloody handprints all over this ridiculous romp with its bizarro concept and giddy penchant for gore.

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Jeffrey Matulef


Jeffrey Matulef is the best-dressed man in 1984.

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