You Will Die Here Tonight, often abbreviated as YWDHT, is a puzzle game that requires you to die, and die, and die again; it’s in the title. Learning from your mistakes is key to progressing in this puzzle and trap-filled game, complete with an eerie atmosphere, great presentation, and even a surprising amount of humor.
Most of this humor comes from the fact that this game is heavily inspired by, and obviously a parody of, the first Resident Evil game. While You Will Die Here Tonight is very obviously anything but a carbon copy of the 1996 title, the love for that game is baked into so much of this title. From the retro graphics, creepy zombie-filled mansion setting, and the characters, the creators of You Will Die Here Tonight make their inspiration very clearly known right off the bat.
These characters are the source of most of the game’s dry, satirical humor, being themselves satires of Resident Evil characters and well-known horror and action movie tropes. The ARIES division is a not-so-subtle riff on Resident Evil’s famous STARS unit. The characters constantly riff on the genre with clever dialogue and fourth wall breaks. They are parodies of beloved Resident Evil personalities — the most obvious of which being their Chris Redfield stand-in, named Eric.
The game is certainly tension-filled, with long dark hallways full of the dead and a palpable atmosphere of dread and the unknown constantly present. This just makes these small moments of humor work all the better. One bit that really shouldn’t have made me laugh as much as it did is when the team blows the door open to the mansion for absolutely no reason. They come, guns drawn, ready for violence, only to be knocked out immediately.
While the story starts out seemingly exactly like the plot of Resident Evil 1, à la spooky mansion with a lab creating zombies in the basement, things quickly take a turn with some serious twists I certainly didn’t see coming. The game has almost a Cabin in the Woods feel with how it plays with your expectations to surprise and challenge you. In that regard, I’d say that fans familiar with RE1 would get a lot more out of this title, though it’s certainly not a necessary prerequisite to enjoying the game.
The gameplay switches between a top-down perspective navigation of the manor (no crazy Resident Evil camera angles in this one) and an arcade-style zombie shoot-em-up. While navigating the manor, you collect resources like bullets, medkits, and key items to progress or upgrade weapons. When you stumble upon a zombie (and you will; the game is good at surprising you), you have the option to keep running or switch into combat mode.
Pulling your gun out seamlessly switches into a 3D perspective of the part of the manor you’re in. These segments make incredible use of the game’s low-fi style, making for striking visuals and truly creepy scenes of the ravenous, glowing-eyed dead wading through the darkness. You’re locked in place and have to shoot or punch your way out of the situation; reloading takes time, and sometimes it’s better just to flee.
The real core of the gameplay lies in the fact that you will die. The title isn’t lying. The odds can become overwhelming, and some puzzles simply will not be solved until you die once or twice figuring them out. When you do, your collected key items carry over to the next playable member of ARIES, who will try and continue where you left off.
All of the progress you make is shared when you play a new character. This can make things much easier, such as when you have fewer zombies to deal with, and it can make things harder, with precious ammo and supplies lost to your dead partner. At times, I found doors I opened or closed to proceed on my last life blocked entry for my next, making things much more dangerous and requiring some backtracking on my part.
What you don’t realize until you start to pick up on subtle dialogue hints is that each character has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. The most obvious of these is Eric (the aforementioned Chris Redfield parody), a combat specialist who can use workbenches to upgrade your firearms. Once you figure out what each character can do, playing them in the correct order becomes a little strategic minigame on your part, a puzzle all on its own.
I usually get bored with puzzle-heavy games. The Resident Evil franchise is an exception, with them moving along quickly and keeping my ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) from getting the better of me. You Will Die Here Tonight is good at this as well, with puzzles not being overly complicated (though you might need to write some codes down here and there) but intriguing enough to keep your interest.
In a game where you die and die and die, there could have been design choices that made things really frustrating to play. Thankfully, You Will Die Here Tonight skirts these decisions and has some incredibly generous mechanics that, while still keeping the game’s challenge, don’t punish you unnecessarily for doing like the title suggests. Progressing allows you to open up shortcuts for later characters, and key items that you collect are shared across deaths. There’s even an arcade-style retry system that restores all of your lives without undoing the progress you’ve made. Death in You Will Die Here Tonight really feels like a chance to learn from your mistakes rather than a reason to throw your monitor across the room.
The Final Word
You Will Die Here Tonight is one of the most unique horror games I’ve played. While being a satirical love letter to a favorite franchise of mine, the game does not sacrifice an intensely scary atmosphere or undeniable originality in its mechanics and writing. This is a must-have Halloween release that is sure to surprise and hook you like it did me.
Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! You Will Die Here Tonight is available on Steam.