Well now we have it kids, there’s finally a game about geronticide – the act of killing the elderly or abandoning them to die. I think that means every vile topic has been normalised in a video game, and we should call it a day. Just Die Already tackles the concept of Boomers living longer than any previous generation by putting them in a sandbox where nearly everything is able to maim, dismember and kill, and letting you control an innocent and unsuspecting senior citizen. Double Moose makes a game of inflicting pain and suffering on the most vulnerable in society from the comfort of our living rooms. BAN THIS SICK FILTH! Wait, that’s not right… thought I was writing for the Daily Mail for a moment there. Though I am surprised the surface concept hasn’t hit the pitchfork squad and caused outrage already. Maybe the total ridiculousness of the game has actually leaked out, much like the blood of the old people will when you get stuck into Just Die Already.
In what I’d like to describe as Pain meets Goat Simulator, Just Die Already is all about dicking around in an open world, interacting with every item and trying to see how many ways you can get your character killed. On being evicted from a retirement home for causing chaos during a birthday party, you head out into the city with one simple goal – complete your bucket list then head off to the more accepting climes of Florida. When the bucket list is mainly made up of ways to injure or mortally wound yourself it’s pretty clear this is going to get messy, and it earns its subtitle “Old People Mayhem Sandbox”. With that simple objective in mind it’s a matter of wandering around the city, grabbing whatever comes to hand and flinging it at unsuspecting passers by. Or if it’s too heavy, wrenching your own arm off and leaving arterial spray spurting from the hole. Lovely.
There’s a lot of blood present. Nearly everything damages or maims our elderly heroes. Whether it’s broken bones, shards of glass impaling torsos or full amputation, Just Die Already is not for the squeamish. Break a leg and it’ll flop uselessly around. Tear off an arm and you won’t be able to pick items up. Get blown up and it’ll be ball of entrails rolling around on the floor as the ragdoll physics takes over. As long as there’s blood pumping through your heart you can keep playing, but it’s kind of tricky to climb ladders with no arms and legs. Fortunately there’s a quick reset button that respawns at the nearest dumpster. Moving around is mapped to standard directional controls, and interactions are specific to whichever hand is nearest. The right and left shoulder buttons allow you to grab and carry items, as well as open doors and use vehicles – tap to pick up, tap to drop. If it’s a weapon or has a special effect then the trigger buttons are used. There’s a slight Falling Down vibe as our octogenarians lose it with the world at large and start firing bullets at random and lobbing grenades.
The specificity of the shoulder buttons to grab things independently means there’s some interesting ways of getting around. Climbing ladders needs you to grab each rung and haul yourself up, and vehicles need two hands on the wheel to make them work. If you’ve got the co-ordination and haven’t lost an arm then there’s the option to dual wield items as well. Attacking the population isn’t really an option though, except for ticking off a bucket list item. The pedestrians can be killed and disappear, only to respawn quite quickly in their original position. Failing to kill them can just make them angry and they start chasing you around. Worse still are the street thugs kicking about who decide that picking you up and throwing you away is the only sensible idea. It can make tackling certain objectives a bit frustrating, yet it’s all part of the advertised mayhem so it gets a pass. Avoid any creatures like the plague though, they’re more likely to be aggressive and start lopping legs off as soon as you’re within snipping range.
With four characters and several areas to explore, there’s a decent amount of depth to the sandbox. It’s quite densely populated so revisiting each place again can reveal pieces that have been missed, or prompt towards secrets. Locked doors can be opened if you manage to remove the right amount of body parts, gates can be opened with keys, and wooden barriers smashed. There’s a good amount of verticality as well with various ways of getting up on the rooftops available. Searching through all rooms and areas is worth doing for the unique items and weapons that are stashed around. Whether it’s an exploding octopus launcher or a hobby horse that lets you zip around the streets, there’s usually something fun to find. Even standard items can provide perks, and I always made sure I knew where the nearest coffee shop was. Just Die Already drops little puzzles around that need to be solved, like placing certain items in particular spots, and figuring these out are a big part of the game. The rewards that come from completing tasks end up in the vending machines that litter the city, and it’s simple enough to order whatever you want from them.
As you might expect in a sandbox designed to be chaotic, there are a few things that go wrong every now and then, but nothing either resetting to a dumpster or changing character won’t fix. No progress is lost and you’ll pick right back up where you left off. I did come across a hard system crash whilst loading it up at one point, and I’m not sure if that’s because it was running in backwards compatibility on a PS5 or not. Mostly it runs fine though and you’ll be reduced to bloody stumps in no time. It doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of odd design choices however. I’ve mentioned vehicles a couple of times and there are some nice ones to use like a steamroller and jet ski, but they’re awful to control. Accelerate, brake and steer are all mapped to the same stick, so you can’t actually move forward and turn at the same time. I’d love to have zipped across some of the canals on the jet ski too, but alas it only spawned from a machine on dry land with no way to push it into water. Trying to get into the locked doors can also be tricky as there’s no way (at least that I found) to target which limbs come off, so meeting the requirements to open them can be a bit random. Maybe there’s something I missed there though, with so much going on it wouldn’t be a surprise.
For people who love just messing about and seeing bodies ragdoll around, Just Die Already will be an enjoyable couple of hours. It might even be longer if you grab a friend for the co-op mode. It’s silly, irreverent and frequently funny, as well as managing to have a compelling exploration element. It’s not the type of game that will keep your attention for long, but it’s certainly an entertaining diversion done in a style that’s few and far between. Anything that can make retirement seem exciting instead of the end of the line deserves a couple of hours of your time.
A PS4 review copy of Just Die Already was provided by Double Moose’s PR team, and the game is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch for around £15 depending on the platform.