Death By Game Show is presented as an hectic strategy game where timing and resources are equally important to achieve victory. Inspired by the movie Idiocracy, the game tells the story of an average chubby human being who’s captured by androids and sentenced to continuously play Game Show-esque challenges in hope he’ll meet an early demise. The premise for this title is great, but the development team fails to provide the players with enough details to render the game interesting. Little to no light is shed on the story and happenings behind chubby guy’s imprisonment, to the point where the main character’s real name is easily forgotten within the first few levels, and none of the other characters present in Death By Game Show are able to leave any sort of lasting impression. From the funny looking units you are able to use to complete the various challenges to the games-host sporting a spinning bow tie and a seemingly infinite supply of bad puns, each character in Death By Game Show seem to lack that originality that would make them easy to remember or simply enjoyable.
What is presented as an RTS experience ends up being nothing more than a glorified tower-defense session which looks like it was taken out of a mobile title. The whole game revolves around you being tied to a G.I.M.P., a high school locker that somehow has the ability to spawn ground and air units and to construct buildings. Death By Game Show is set in a 2D universe, a design choice that further decreases the degree of freedom given to the player, limiting your choices to deciding which way the units you are going to spawn will face and where your defensive buildings will be placed. Once a unit is spawned, it will relentlessly keep walking or flying in the direction it is facing while attacking any enemy it comes across, only to be eventually destroyed or to die once it reaches the edges of the map. Challenges will normally ask you to destroy a certain number of enemy units or to defeat waves of incoming enemies until the timer runs out, only to have your total score calculated and to see chubby guy flying off in a cartoonish rocket.
Oddly designed UI renders gameplay painful rather than enjoyable
While gameplay surely isn’t the strong feature of Death By Game Show, the oddly designed UI seems to be what ultimately brings this title down and makes playing through the levels more painful than enjoyable. While attempting to complete the various challenges, you will be able to pick from two skill bars, one located at the bottom of the screen and containing your units and one located on the right edge of the screen and containing your available buildings. These bars will only show an icon representing the selected unit. A tootip balloon is available, but will only pop up after extensively hovering your mouse over the icon, a design choice that clashes with the timing aspect of the game. Furthermore only a rather small amount of units can be spawned at any given time and attempting to spawn additional units will result in a spawn-queue being created. The queue cannot be modified and spawning cannot be aborted, effectively clogging the system and preventing you from changing your strategy, were you to notice that the units you requested were not the most effective against your enemies.
All of the aforementioned features and flaws make Death By Game Show a game that is hard to recommend. Its dated graphics, the repetitive gameplay and the lack of any characteristic that could be unique enough to keep you entertained cannot be saved by the bad puns and the one liners some of the characters will occasionally drop. A title that could have been more suited to other platforms such as mobile devices, designed to be used by casual gamers, Death By Game Show will most likely be lost among the many indie games in its own category.
A Xbox One copy of Death By Game Show was provided by the publisher. To learn more about our score, read our review policy.