Move or Die is a blast. It’s fast, hard fun at its simplest. A quick run down of movement controls at the title screen and you’re set to enter the 2D arena, party/playlist chaos. An evolution of Those Awesome Guys’ previous Newgrounds entry Concerned Joe, Move or Die is testament to the developers expertise in fast-paced, quick-fix gaming.
The basic premise is in the name. Keep your globby character in motion or he’ll explode. The rest plays out in a shuffle of various game modes, each of which has its own rules and mechanics. Bomb Tag rigs up one player with a bomb he must hand off before its timer’s up. Rock Run launches a guided missile toward a single player which can be guided into other players. Hat Chase places a single hat in the arena which players must wrestle to wear for longest. The rules are quickly but sufficiently summarized at the start of each of the current 14 modes. It’s incredibly intuitive with plenty of mechanical variables, like randomly placed death, jump, invisible, and teleport blocks, to keep you on your toes.
While they all do their job of mixing things up, some game modes are better than others. Race, while a party-game staple, was definitely the weakest game mode, made so by its repetitive layout. The stage is well designed but lacks in excitement once its track’s been committed to memory: you can’t throw players curveballs once they know what to expect. This is made worse by the fact that environments don’t vary in texture or setting; it all takes place in sleek, laboratory-looking environments. While it wouldn’t wouldn’t have affected gameplay, I feel that varying environment skins to include, say, a jungle, desert, or snow level, would’ve added a pinch more flavor to the otherwise solid visuals. Both issues, however, might be a simple fix in the long run considering the developer’s promise of “free DLC forever” in the form of new game modes, maps, mechanics, and characters. In fact, The developer’s Patch Notes History page outlines previous additions and fixes while an Updates History page previews some of the content in the works. Furthermore, Steam Workshop functionality and an included level creator could help foster a creative community that outlives any developer support.
The current online community, partially remnants from the title’s days in Early Access, is strong and match-making quick. While in lobby, each player must add their preferred game modes to the match playlist to be shuffled between rounds. In my experience, no particular game modes seemed more popular than others so the roulette stayed nice and varied. Servers work great and seem rather forgiving of poor internet connections: I had to conduct my review using a weak connection yet never suffered heavy lag spells or felt like I was put at a disadvantage.
You start out with a handful of characters but quickly develop your roster through levelling up. Most characters feature playful designs, like the pug or skellington, while some possess special abilities. (UPDATE: The zombie character does not in fact take “two hits to kill” as previously stated.) There currently isn’t a character creation mode but the roster is so large and visually amusing that I never missed one.
While I have few qualms overall with Move Or Die, I do feel that the price of entry may be a touch too high though I guess it depends on how you value your play-time. For me, Move Or Die is most satisfying in 15-minute chunks, played during breaks, quickly before bed, etc. $14.99 is simply a little more than I’d prefer to spend for such casual play sessions. That isn’t to say that it’s a casual game; if you prefer long play-sessions to grind and hone your skills, the high skill-ceiling across the various game modes will keep you plenty busy. The one to four-player local capability makes for a perfect pick-up-and-play party game and may be worth the price in itself, featuring support for up to four controllers or two keyboards while completely playable on a single keyboard. The $40.00 4-pack available on Steam could also make for a sweet split, bringing it down to $10.00 per person if you can assemble a dedicated group. I’d like to note that my issue with the price is only slight; I really feel like Move Or Die is only a few modes and maps away from becoming a must-buy.
Fast, fun, and satisfying; Move Or Die delivers with next to no filler. The emphasis on “fun” and transparency that Those Awesome Guys set at the core of the game’s promotion and PR, including a 24/7 broadcast of matches played exclusively by AI, seems sincere to me and really helped bolster my appreciation for the title. Consider the Daily Challenges, AI VS, Steam Leaderboards, and upcoming content updates and you’ll have plenty of reason to play today, tomorrow, and next year. Move Or Die is a blast.