Die Young is an ambitious, open world survival experience, currently in development by IndieGala’s internal development team in Rome, Italy. IndieGala launched in 2011 as a digital distribution platform similar to GOG and Humble Bundle, in a sense. While offering a broad selection of Steam titles at discounted prices, IndieGala is an official partner of several renowned publishers such as Bandai Namco, Deep Silver, Nordic Games, and Paradox. Three years subsequent their initial launch, IndieGala branched out toward in-house development and have released five games in the last three years, with three currently in development.
IndieGala’s most ambitious title yet puts players in the shoes of Daphne, an elitist socialite and self-proclaimed “adrenaline junkie” who is drugged and kidnapped, finding herself awakening on a remote and mysterious island in the Mediterranean Sea. With nothing initially but her wits and physical prowess, she must survive against the island’s hostile inhabitants and ultimately find a way to escape. Sound familiar? Die Young’s initial theme is highly reminiscent to Square Enix’s reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise from 2013, but the overall experience is remarkably different. While Die Young shares many similar elements to other survival experiences, it strikes its own cord right off the bat and resonates as a unique experience that has come quite a way from its humble beginnings.
It’s worth mentioning that IndieGala haven’t necessarily laid out a detailed road map to illustrate their endgame for Die Young, but its Early Access page on Steam does touch on a lot of tantalizing and obtainable goals. From their Early Access page, IndieGala explains Die Young’s need for Early Access and how much the full version will differ from the development phase.
“Die Young is in the pipeline to becoming a great game. We believe lovers of the survival genre will enjoy it, but also those who like adventures with an intriguing and profound story will find it attractive. Early Access is a platform that allows us to test this combination and lets you help Die Young grow to its full potential. For players, Early Access is an opportunity to get their hands on new content as soon as it’s shipped and to further support the development of Die Young. For us, it’s a great source of precious feedback and advice. Early Access will continue until the main story is completed. Until then, we plan to release updates on a regular basis (every 2-4 weeks.)
Currently, the first accessible part of the island has a surface area of about 5 square kilometers with nearly 25 quests/missions to play in order to reach the end of it. The final storyline will have nearly 70 missions (both primary and optional) and when full access to the island unlocks, the playable area will measure approximately 12 square kilometers to explore.”
With my experience in Die Young so far, I must say that it is shaping up to becoming a remarkable adventure. It’s a noteworthy mention that the experience does not hold your hand in any way at all; there are no objective markers, hints, nor clues about where to go or how to accomplish a goal. Your only useful indicators would be the mission log and the minimalistic map of the island. Survival elements are introduced immediately, with the need to search for food and water being a pivotal element in the experience. While Die Young is still in its development phase, the overall threats on the island are slightly minute in comparison to the aim of the finished version. The island is seemingly heavily populated by rottweilers and in some parts of the island, there are as many as five or six in a single area, making navigation significantly difficult until a rhythm is found. You’ll also find Executioners, which are massive, cumbersome men wearing the classic executioner hood, wielding either a large axe or scythe. I stumbled upon my first Executioner while heading for the Temple Ruins on the western side of the island near a populace of sunflowers.
It’s a remarkably startling experience initially, due to the sound of his lumbering footsteps as he gives chase and the intense pursuit theme. As Daphne lived an athletic lifestyle prior to her kidnapping, she is able to sprint and engage in parkour stunts to escape and evade. Similar to Outlast, while running, players can look behind them with the press of a button to see the distance between them and their pursuer. In most instances, simply outrunning your pursuer is enough to end the chase, but other situations involve breaking the line of sight or climbing somewhere out of their reach. In the instance of the Executioner, he will chase Daphne indefinitely until she is able to hide or simply get far enough from the sunflower field and Temple Ruin, as he doesn’t seem to leave that area at all. I spent a considerable amount of time experimenting with the AI and learned that if I simply run in the direction I came from, once I reach the end of the sunflower field—even if the Executioner is hot on my trail—he’ll end the chase and return to his patrol pattern. I would expect this behavior to change down the line.
In the beginning, Daphne is on-the-whole unarmed, but is not restricted to how and when she can obtain weapons. In its current state, there are no restrictions in terms of required skill or progression; any weapons found or crafted can be used without issue. In Die Young, the weapons are melee-exclusive and range from sticks and crowbars to knives and poisoned needles. There aren’t any firearms and there hasn’t been any word on plans to include them, but given the theme of the game so far, firearms in any capacity may not fit in the overall experience; unless, of course, Daphne stumbles upon an old Beretta Tomcat with only four or five rounds, without being able to find more ammunition—I can get behind that little inclusion. It is, however, seemingly most unwise to use weapons in an offensive manner, as the island can be navigated with little to no conflict with patience and persistance—I would advise saving weapons for defensive measures should the need arise. Daphne can also find equipment to aid her adventure, such as sneakers and kneepads to lessen her stamina drain and aid in fall damage protection, respectively. I would imagine that more equipment and accessories will be added in future updates.
Die Young stands as a memorable experience on its own and its high marks are prominent and well-rounded. In my opinion, it only falls short in some aspects and that would be, primarily, the game’s current minimalistic nature and almost empty-feeling, in a sense. While the island is pretty large in its current state, one can’t help but feel like there isn’t all that much going on between Point A and Point B, but such is the nature of Early Access titles. With continuous updates, Die Young has the potential to be as prominent an open world survival experience as The Forest and The Long Dark, and perhaps even propelling itself further. You can expect to see a full, in-depth review once Die Young has reached its final, full release.
Die Young is available now, in its Early Access phase, on Steam for $14.99.