As a satire on the current console cycle and its ubiquitous downloadable content, the DLC Quest series to date has enjoyed a steady amount of success, thanks to its mix of carefree platforming as a means to an end and charming wit carrying you to that end. And from in-game ads to broken game design, Minecraft to Mass Effect, nothing in the game industry is safe from DLC Quest: Live Freemium or Die (80 MSP) and its pinpoint-accurate lampooning.
From a gameplay perspective, Live Freemium or Die is alarmingly basic. Run and jump, collect coins, walk to the next zone, repeat. Spikes will occasionally take your life if you don’t look before you leap, but checkpoints are generous, once purchased (…you’ll see). Combat… what combat? You’re given a sword you almost never use, save to carve a path through vines, a pickaxe to break apart rocks. There are the ‘Metroidvania’ moments, where a specific skill or item is needed, but you’re largely free from any challenge or shackles.
Put that all aside, though. DLC Quest is about the journey rather than the ride. The coins you run across (and there will be coins) are merely that ticket to ride, the environments functioning purely as a vehicle that segues from one excellent dialogue bubble to next. DLC and its pitfalls are the star, and you’ll need to buy plenty of it (fictionally, of course, your wallet is safe) in order to both advance the plot and (optionally) inject lethal doses of humor into the game world. From terrible load times to missing content, fetch quests and trivial NPCs, most of the things gamers love to hate on will get their comeuppance.
It’s the sharp writing and legitimate laughs (I LOL’ed for a good five minutes straight at the double-joke regarding season passes) that see you through, not the coin collecting and backtracking, which threatens to get stale but is all done for the sake of a laugh. I could spout off plenty of other moments that had me chuckling over the course of the hour+ it’ll take you to finish, but I don’t want to ruin the fun. Why subvert a great comedian’s punchlines? Most of the game’s simple joys come in the form of discovery. As such, you’ll want to come into it fresh.
Funny as hell, but the truth hurts, doesn’t it, Game Industry?
DLC Quest: Live Freemium or Die ends on a nearly-profound note where everyone is in on the joke. Afterward, you’re allowed to return and collect anything you might’ve missed, but the show’s been seen by then, more or less. Not that replayability matters as much when it’s next to such relevant material. It turns a lovingly-critical eye on the nickel-and-diming practices of today’s games, says a few one-liners, and makes a point. You’re expected, nay, required, to pay attention. If you’ve ever spent real money on digital weapon skins or on-disc content and wondered aloud if there had to be a better (read: funnier) way, this is for you.