Drawn to Death hurts to play. It is too floaty and stiff to work as multiplayer shooter and while the art style initially captures attention, your eyes will beg to be gouged out after five minutes. And it never, ever shuts up.
Taking (or dare I say drawing) inspiration from the messy and enthusiastic scribblings that dot so many junior high notebooks, Drawn to Death attempts to dazzle with a distinctive visual style full of jagged edges and mish-mashed cartoonish delights. The world is a violent pop-up book. It’s full of shotguns, shark ninjas, blood, and bombs. Director David Jaffe is best known for the Twisted Metal and God of War games. Drawn to Death revels in a similar kind of bravado. It’s endearing for a time but starts to wear thin.
The biggest problem with Drawn to Death is that it feels awful to play. What might have been a fast and furious affair ends up far lacking focus. Movement feels like everything is in space. You float in the air and slide around slippery arenas. Health pools are far too large, allowing you to tank countless bullets and rockets. Matches drag on. There’s no momentum. It’s dull.
Drastic aesthetics are always a gamble and Drawn to Death manages to squander an interesting concept. White backgrounds make for bold contrast when blood spills but everything becomes hazy after a while. This is a game that screenshots better than it works in motion. It distracts more than it charms. Last year’s remarkable dungeon crawler Let It Die managed to merge grindhouse sensibilities and childish excess with greater results.
Drawn to Death tries hard to express an edgy tone as well, with mixed success. There are a few genuinely funny jokes including a gag that got me to literally yell into my controller like a moron. The foul mouthed tutorial calls you a fucking idiot and you can even toss out text bubble taunts in between matches. It’s silly stuff. Unfortunately, no one ever shuts up and lets things breathe. The game boasts an extensive tutorial that rambles on and on. Picking up items elicits lengthy monologues from a annoying announcer. It’s horrible and never stops.
There’s no delicate way to talk about Drawn to Death here. Trying to find the upsides is like squeezing blood from a stone. This could have been a wacky blast of a shooter but it ends up as a clumsy mess. For a quick pick up and play, it might briefly entertain. There’s the kernel of something here but it falls apart quickly. It’s good for a few laughs and might stir some nostalgia in your gut. But after a few matches, you’ll probably not pick it up again