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‘Drawn to Death’ Review: Nothing but Scribbles and Scratches

Despite a unique design concept and a visually appealing art style, Drawn to Death fails to capture the magic of a truly great arena shooter



It’s hard to talk about Drawn to Death without cringing and laughing at the same time.  The third-person arena shooter appeals to a wide audience with an emphasis on fast combat, a unique art style, and a diverse cast of characters, but fails to really capture the grand appeal behind the only genre it could really fit into.  What’s more, the overly crass humor and slew of technical problems make playing the game almost a chore, leaving the player feeling like they got less than what they paid for.

The idea of Drawn to Death sounds amazing on paper;  having the creative genius of David Jaffe—whose credentials include the first God of War and the Twisted Metal series—working on his own project that revolved around a teenager’s drawings fighting each other in bloody fashion was the formula for a truly spectacular game.  Unfortunately, those basic concepts get lost and misrepresented throughout the game.  Drawn to Death relies too heavily on the supposed teenage vernacular, as all throughout the game the player is bombarded with wave after wave of dick jokes, references to how the game shagged your mother in one way or another, or blatant insults.  While the ultra-crude humor could be overlooked in the wake of strong gameplay, Drawn to Death also falls short on this front.  The player’s movement is haphazard and disjointed, and in a genre that stresses fluid dodges and fast-paced jukes, this simply doesn’t work.  Furthermore, the six characters made available are severely imbalanced.  Each character comes equiped with their own unique ability, but unfortunately some powers are vastly more useful than others.  This results in a gameplay experience that relies on the player picking character A over B instead of using their skills to win the match.    

If a single word could represent Drawn to Death, it would be “unfinished”.  This isn’t to say that Jaffe & Co didn’t complete the game, but the lack of game modes, maps, and overall depth say otherwise.  Team Deathmatch or Free for All with only four players can get old quickly, and a slow progression system coupled with the diverse yet small array of weapons means that the player will most likely get tired of trying to unlock new items and just move onto something new.  What’s more, the servers are plagued with terrible bouts of inactivity and a slew of bugs, which leads to most matches turning into a two-on-one bloodbath rather than a decent fight.

Drawn to Death’s only real appealing aspect comes from its aesthetic and art design.  Characters feel unique and independent, and range from cyborg vampires to shark headed ninjas.  The level design is also diverse, and offers players a multitude of ways to evade and corner their opponents.  The game’s hand-drawn sketch style is refreshing, never distracts from the game’s core mechanics, and is really the only saving grace offered to the player.  

Despite a unique design concept and a visually appealing art style, Drawn to Death fails to capture the magic of a truly great arena shooter, and degrades its quality with unfunny dialogue and juvenile insults.  A minimal and unbalanced assortment weapons, constant bugs, and lackluster design choices make David Jaffe’s latest foray into gaming feel more like the angsty teen’s notebook emulated in the game rather than a genuinely enjoyable online experience.   

Carston is a freelance writer hailing from the always humid Sunshine State. He enjoys RPGs, grand strategy games, 80's New Wave and post-punk, and anything PlayStation related. If Game of Thrones, Mass Effect, or Chinese food are your thing, find him on Twitter @RolandDucant.