The Average Gamer

774 Deaths Review (iOS)

I’ve only completed 9 out of 33 levels. I’m currently on the 3rd room, but have died 101 times. No, I’m not shit at video games. In 774 Deaths, as the title suggests, you die. A lot. Sounds terrible and pointless, yes? Well, it’s actually one of the most simple and addictive iOS games of the year.

774 Deaths is presented totally in an 8-bit style, akin to the original NES Legend of Zelda, but this is no RPG or top-down adventure game. The top-down view is used to navigate the rooms that host the levels themselves. There is no narration, no scores, no plot, and is a game that would not have been out of place on an Atari 2600.

So why should you play it? For starters, the above factors however do not do the game any harm at all. In fact it’s all the better for it. When you enter a level, it will be one of a few styles: standard platforming (move left/right and jump); jump only, as the screen is scrolling automatically; and in portrait view, a tilt-controlled level where you character is falling.

Whichever level you get, prepare to die, at least the first time, as you surmise how to pass through the awesomely intricate designs that leave very little margin for error. Think Super Meat Boy with significantly less charm or the colourfulness.

Death comes in a variety of ways; you can fall on blades, they also fall on you. You jump on them, they can also pop out and jump on you. On timed levels, if the time limit runs out, you die, and even then blood will spill from your body, which makes no sense, but keeps the theme consistent nonetheless. The tilting-whilst falling levels require perfection to not receive a floating ax to the head. Quite often, you get to the very end, for another blade just to pop out and ruin the moment. You have to feel for the guy. Or do you? Don’t forget there is very little reason given for empathy here, and for all that is explained our character could well be a murderer trying to escape a prison.

Although you will die a lot, each time you do it leaves you with more desire and determination to succeed. I actually find the deaths rather comedic, in part due to the pixel blood splats, or from the occasional insanity from repeatedly dying. Indeed, 774 Deaths’ addictiveness stems from the challenge it provides and the sense of achievement obtained from completing any level within it.

The graphics may be 8-bit but they are the perfect choice for such a title. They are reminiscent of the castle levels from the original Mario Bros, albeit much shorter and a million times more treacherous. Bowser could learn a thing or two here and maybe put his feet up for once.

The music is in very old-school Square RPG style and a perfect homage to the Final Fantasy music of old. The controls, much like Super Meat Boy’s were, are perfect. Each level is designed around the controls magnificently and, although there is very little margin for error anyway, the responses are your responses, leaving you to concentrate on the perfect timing to complete the current level. However, as good as it is, you may be prone to moments of frustration, as dedication for a game so tough only goes so far at times. Be warned.

774 Deaths is a highly recommended mobile purchase, and will break even the best gamers out there.

774 Deaths is available now for £2.49 on iOS 4.3 or later.

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