Do you ever have a hankering for Fortnite but find yourself dissuaded by the thought of delinquent children screaming, burping, and farting into a mic headset? Publisher PQube has a solution – a colourful third-person shooter, mimicking the look and feel of Fortnite, only it’s single player. The only voices you’ll be hearing while playing here is yourself guffawing at the occasional glitch or cursing upon dying from an unforeseen barrel explosion.
Of course, Die After Sunset isn’t a straight-up clone of Fortnite – it has no online component, after all. It prides itself of being a Roguelike, in the sense that the busywork to fill the void between a level starting and the boss appearing takes the form of random events – each of which doles out a random assortment of upgrades, perks, and items upon completion. Also, instead of a pool of licensed skins and characters to play as, we’re introduced to April and Rido – with a third character to unlock. April packs a pistol and has a charge shot and grenade as default, while Diago carries an assault rifle, has a shock ability, and can knock back enemies with a kick from his mechanical legs.
By completing brief events, you’ll amass turrets, drones, grenades with different effects, poison abilities, auto-healing items, and lots more. Most have a comical tone, resulting in a quirky accessory being added to your character. You’ll also get to choose whether to improve health, shield, damage, or light stats – with Die After Sunset featuring a light/dark gimmick, where the enemies go from being goofy aliens to demonic beasts whenever they step into shadows. This idea is tied into the map design, with chests commonly found in dark caves, while the opening level is set on a beach with parasols. But this idea may sound innovative, it looks a bit strange in execution, with enemies often constantly flicking between the two states.
Events vary from killing enemies as they make their way to portals – in a bid to steal swimwear, no less – to rotating mirrors to direct a beam onto a idol. Another sees you trying to figure out a sequence of buttons before the aliens damage a generator beyond repair. In some events it’s immediately obvious what’s required to win, while others are a little vague as there’s no explanation other than the event’s title. Generally, though, you’re going to be stopping, finding, protecting, or shooting something. The quicker these goals are achieved, the more rewards fall your way. This puts a welcome focus on speed, quickly dashing from one event to the next. Extra time can be added to the clock too, allowing for more events to be completed before the boss appears.
You’re going to need as many perks and upgrades as possible to beat the bosses. They aren’t impossibly difficult, but they can be reasonably challenging if ill-equipped. Dying during a boss battle can be frustrating as a single life is all you get, and some boss attacks can be devastating. Getting caught in a searing laser can drain your health in seconds. Oddly, explosive barrels are highly dangerous too – the blast radius ideally needs to be shrunk in a future update.
In fact, Die After Sunset feels like it’s badly in need of a patch. It isn’t broken nor unplayable, but the frequency in which glitches occur lends it a rough and unpolished feel. The most noticeable of these is the fact that April holds machine guns sideways, rendering aiming near impossible. Characters sometimes float in mid-air, and during one boss battle a regular enemy’s health bar became stuck on the screen. Enemy behaviour is a little erratic too – the oddball aliens regularly appear out of nowhere, which looks a bit sloppy, and once defeated they tend to freeze for a few seconds.
There is quite a bit to invest time into here though. Throughout play – and even upon defeat – you’ll stockpile the in-game currency, delightfully known as ‘mukus’, that can be spent on permanent stat boosts, along with perks such as a flamethrower and a larger item collection radius. There’s a list of challenges to beat too, some of which unlock new evasive manoeuvres and other abilities. April, for instance, can swap her basic dodge for a teleport. The action isn’t merely contained within a single location either, with the plot having a time-travelling premise that sees our heroes leap to different points in the future. The same (or at least similar) events playout within these, but there is potential to explore, and lots of new sights to take in.
Die After Sunset is fleshed out enough to hoodwink younger gamers into thinking their pocket money has been well spent, at least for a few afternoons, but chances are they’ll quickly return to Fortnite and buddy up with their online chums. I’m willing to give it a second chance when a patch or significant update drops – it’s not as if third-person shooters are a dime a dozen these days, especially those that are single-player only.
PlayStark Games’ Die After Sunset is out now on all formats.