As you may suspect from the awkwardly dubbed Die! Die! Die!, your primary objective in this PlayStation Vita release is to kill everything that you come into contact with. However, what the name doesn't convey is that this isn't exactly an avenue for yet another murderous rampage. As it turns out, this is a Missile Commander-style game, where you protect a human body from waves of deadly germs and bacteria. It's an intriguing concept, but will it get your blood pumping?
With a syringe on the left-hand side of the screen, you must shoot globs of vaccine towards the groups of invading disease, which are swimming through the circulatory system. The game is split into three distinct areas: the veins, intestines, and nervous system, with 28 levels in each. These biological regions play host to a wealth of different enemies, and as you progress, new power-ups are revealed to help give you an edge, as well as vaccines that make you more effective against particular types of adversary. In short, what starts off as a very simple shooting gallery soon transforms into a frantic battle to stop the worst of the foes from getting past you.
Each level gives you a target number of foes to destroy and a maximum amount that you can afford to miss. With the help of the aforementioned power-ups and new ammunition types, you'll become a force to be reckoned with. The upgrades must be collected by tapping the touch screen, and range from additional ammo for your syringe through to explosive pills and even artillery support from the immune system. You'll need all of the help that you can muster, too, as when the pace of the game increases, it becomes a taxing test to keep the host healthy. The power-ups come to aid you quickly, but if you destroy them with a shot of vaccine then your ability to fire is temporarily disabled. As such, you constantly need to read the battlefield in order to determine the best place to shoot.
It's fun, but figuring it all out is easier said than done, as the game fails to properly instruct you on how to play. You're thrust into the action with little more than a vague animation, and even the controls are a mystery. The very basic operations are easy enough to figure out: your crosshairs move across the screen to where you touch, while holding down on the display charges a shot of vaccine. You can use button controls if you prefer, but both options work well. Sadly, the more complicated mechanics – such as using special ammo and exploiting enemy weaknesses – remain vague, prompting you to either experiment or search for information in the title's digital manual. Furthermore, even the menu navigation is needlessly ambiguous, with confusing symbols employed as opposed to self-explanatory text labels. Worse still, the levels are laid out with the nervous system at the top, veins in the middle, and the intestines at the bottom, even though you must play them in a completely different order.
It seems like a minor niggle, but it makes the game needlessly complicated to approach, and will slaughter your first impressions. Assuming that you have the patience to bypass these issues, though, there's some fun to be had. Each level is graded with bronze to gold medals, and with the stages lasting a few minutes at most, it's well suited towards short bursts. There are also 52 in-game Trophies to collect, as well as a Survival mode which allows you to battle endless waves of internal critters. Meanwhile, there are online leaderboards, as well as a four-player hot-seat multiplayer mode which allows you to compete with friends.
Unless you get hooked on the high score aspect, though, don't expect a whole lot of longevity. You can get through the campaign in approximately three hours, while the Survival mode is entirely dependent on your commitment to the leaderboards. At least the cartoon aesthetic looks nice, with enemies assuming a variety of monstrous, adorable, and downright funny appearances on top of a background of detailed and colourful guts.
Die! Die! Die! is fun once you know what you're doing, but its needlessly convoluted learning curve will give you a fever. Overcome its issues and you'll find an experience that's well tuned towards short bursts of play, but is unlikely to keep you hooked like a potent pain killer. It's a decent distraction, then – but one that you'll soon get sick of.