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  • Writer's pictureJunoh Seo

Review: You Will Die Here Tonight

Developer: Spiral Bound Interactive LLC

Publisher: Spiral Bound Interactive LLC

Available on: PC (Steam)

You Will Die Here Tonight is a survival horror and adventure game that combines a third-person, top-down exploration with classic arcade shooter-style combat. You play as members of the Aries Division, an elite task force deployed to a mysterious, isolated mansion to apprehend one Jeffrey Monroe. However, shortly after entering the mansion, the team is incapacitated and separated one by one. You then play as each member of the team as you try to piece together the mystery and find your way out of the mansion.

The game can be broadly divided into exploration and combat mode. The exploration mode is in third person, top-down perspective and should feel familiar for those who have played Resident Evil 1 - you explore a massive mansion filled with zombies, traps, and puzzles while finding weapon unlocks and upgrades scattered across the map. The pixel art graphics of the game are also very well made and adds on to the retro, 1990~2000s horror aesthetics.

On the other hand, the combat mode is similar to classic arcade shooters, such as the House of the Dead series, but adapted to work better with the adventure elements of the game. Unlike many arcade shooters, where you have to follow a predetermined route, you can initiate combat at will when enemies appear during exploration mode. While you cannot move in combat, you do have the ability to look around in a 360-degree radius, which becomes important when fighting some of the later bosses and enemies that can attack you from all sides.

With the exception of boss battles, if the odds are against your favor, you can also run away either by simply avoiding enemies in the exploration mode or using the escape option while in combat. You can also use healing items during combat mode, and knowing when to use them is crucial when fighting harder bosses.

There are a total of six characters you could play as, but you can only switch to a different team member once the character you initially chose dies. Each character has a different health bar, move speed, and inventory size, but most importantly, they all specialize in a different field. For instance, while you can find weapon upgrade kits with all characters, you need to be playing as the weapons specialist to actually apply the upgrades. Similarly, you need to be playing as the team medic to create extra first aid kits for the team.

Supplies can be quite scarce in the beginning, and rationing them between characters is part of the challenge. Without any upgrades, you start with just a handgun and can carry no more than a single magazine, which is barely enough for one or two fights since most enemies take several shots to kill. Although there is an ammunition crate in the safe hub where you can replenish ammo infinitely, it only replenishes as much as your current ammo capacity. You can go over your ammo capacity by finding bullets in the exploration mode, but they will not respawn and require you to weigh between improving the odds for the current character or preparing for the next one. Likewise, healing items are also limited. For instance, when you are bitten and infected by a zombie, it can only be cured by the recovery station at the safe hub, which has limited uses.

Like the title implies, permanent death is a big part of the game’s mechanics. Once a character you are playing dies, they are gone until the end of your current run. You are usually able to retrieve items such as ammo and health kits if you can reach their bodies with another character, although in some cases, this is not possible - if a character happens to, say, fall into a spike pit or gets completely crushed by a wall, you won’t be able to retrieve items from them. However, weapons and ammo capacity upgrades are permanent and will stay with you even if you lose all characters and start over from the beginning.

The main theme of the game is also centered on dying and learning from your past mistakes. You will die several times even if you are careful. Most characters can only take a few hits; failing or missing the clue to puzzles can lead to instant death, and some combat encounters are designed to catch you off guard. However, the game will also keep track of any important notes or hints that are necessary for solving puzzles. Combined with the persistent upgrades, you will become better at surviving the mansion and making progress every time you restart a run.

I liked how the game, while challenging, wasn’t overly punishing or frustrating with the difficulty. For instance, there are several special coins scattered around the map that allow you to continue your current run and keep your progress even if all six characters are dead. Some of them are hidden in more remote locations or require you to backtrack, but you will find at least one or two coins even on your first playthrough, which is when you will need them the most. Similarly, if a character dies while fighting a boss, then the next teammate will have a better chance at taking them down since bosses do not recover health bars between fights, and any damage dealt with the previous character will stay. While resource management is important, the game also gives you infinite handgun ammo while in boss battles. It is still wise to save up magnum and shotgun ammo for them, but this prevents the frustration of running out of ammo and dying in important fights.

Another well-made aspect of the game was the dialogue. Each character has a distinct personality that shows well through their dialogue, and they all react differently to the various events and encounters throughout the game. With the game’s main theme revolving around repetition, I found this an effective way to keep the gameplay interesting and fresh for several runs.

While the gameplay of You Will Die Here Tonight itself was enjoyable, it did end rather quickly, as it took under 10 hours for me to see the true ending. I feel like the game could have benefited from having one or two more major areas with more enemy types. The mansion segment was complex and well-developed, but the areas after that felt much more linear and simple. Most Resident Evil games have you transition between several major locations with different enemies and themes, like traveling from the RPD station to NEST labs in Resident Evil 2, and I believe that a similar expansion of the mid-to-late game area would definitely make this game even better.

Overall, You Will Die Here Tonight is a unique blend of classic horror action RPG and arcade shooters. It is challenging but fair and encourages you to learn and make more progress with each death and each new run. I would definitely recommend playing this game for any fans of zombies and survival horror.

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