Suicide Guy looks like he’d be a cool guy to hang out with if he didn’t keep a shirtless picture of his dad on the wall.
Developed by Chubby Pixel, Suicide Guy is a title that gets you thinking. When I read the description, I was reminded of Karoshi: Suicide Salaryman, a flash game where you guide the protagonist to his death in a series of puzzles that increase in difficulty as you progress. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Suicide Guy shared this concept, but brought it into 3D. Sadly, there ends the pleasantness.
The story behind Suicide Guy is as follows: you play as a chubby couch potato with a dirty undershirt that hides a beer belly. His hobbies include binging on snacks and beer, watching T.V., and going “Huh?” whenever he looks at something. He slowly dozes off to ambient sounds of the television he is flipping through. Suddenly, he awakens on the roof of a building in sprawling cityscape, and the game begins. The object of every level is to kill yourself: hence the name Suicide Guy. This can be achieved by simply jumping off a skyscraper or running into a particle accelerator before the safety glass locks you out. You then wake up inside the burger joint of Suicide Guy’s mind. A greasy wonderland serving fresh burgers for Suicide Guy to chow on, and trinkets that teleport you to one of 24 dreams, each presenting a unique challenge that ranges from moderately interesting to lifeless and boring.
In one level, you’re tasked with finding a way to set off the sprinkler system to flood an office building; in another, your job is to bring a gargantuan robotic Frankenstein's monster to life so it can stomp you to a brutal, dreamy death. Despite the title’s potential for some interesting brain teasers, I never felt stumped or confused, save for one situation near the end. There were a few interesting moments that made me laugh, or say “that’s pretty cool,” but it was ultimately more of an interesting mix of game mechanics more than it was a puzzler, largely considering the game holds hands for almost every challenge. Case and point: In a level where I was running through a temple with locked doors, the only way to open them was to hold down buttons; almost every button had a rock either near or no more than ten feet away from it. I was willing to believe it was an invisible tutorial to teach the player about weighted buttons, but that was the last we saw of them.
One of the more interesting environments was a cute nod to Mario, it was also one of the least stable levels in the game. I had to restart twice because the blocks I had to use to solve a puzzle clipped through walls.
Controls are smooth for the most part, but can be slightly clunky, especially during platforming segments. Suicide Guy, being a first person platformer, moves using WASD and looks with the mouse. It plays similarly to Dying Light or Mirror’s Edge in terms of movement: both titles have first person platforming and plenty of unique mechanics to ensure a smooth ride. Kyle Crane can jump great distances and grab onto ledges quickly without breaking the flow of movement, Faith Connors can slide under narrow passages and run along walls without breaking a sweat. Suicide Guy can pull himself up waist high platforms -- sometimes. Holding down space and jumping towards a platform automatically pulls the player up, which is handy given that much of the game revolves around jumping from platform to platform or up blocky inclines, but the animation takes a considerable amount of time and releasing the space bar at the wrong moment means plummeting to the ground. losing any progress you’ve made in your climb. This isn’t as bad as it sounds, but frustrating when taking into account that a lot of the platforming segments aren’t as difficult as they are tedious. One level dedicated to platforming was a large castle, the goal was to scale to the very top so you could jump off and end your dream life. At no point did I ever feel worried that falling off would have a major consequence as much as I was worried that I’d just have to waste more time on climbing back up.
The castle level was imaginative in style but tiresome and tedious to play due to its lackluster level design.
Speaking of wasting time, the game suffers from a horrible bug where items will sometimes clip through walls, disappearing. This means that the only way to complete the level is to restart. One level had me stacking floating blocks; I had moved one into position above me, only for it to clip through the wall behind me and leave me empty handed and stuck. In another level, I had accidentally stepped on an object required to complete the stage, giving it enough velocity to shoot straight through the floor and out of my life. Another puzzle involving a hydraulic press was particularly frustrating. The button to activate the press sat next to the machine, pressing it caused the ram to drop quickly with no time to position myself underneath it. I had assumed that the proper solution was to stack boxes under the piston ram, press the button, and wait for death while the boxes were crushed, but instead the ram came down and sent my boxes flying into oblivion before I could get underneath.
Audio is a mess, to say the least. Every level has anywhere between one to five radios lying around that emit a musical loop that lasts about eight seconds. This becomes repetitive almost instantly. Fortunately these can be turned off and thrown to the side with ease, except for the ones required in certain puzzles. Sounds are a mixed bag. Things like footsteps have different sounds depending on what kind of surface you’re walking on, and machinery all have their respective stock sound effects, but I remember being confused when I was on a train that was completely silent. Suicide Guy himself communicates using a series of grunts: four when jumping and another for zooming in with the right mouse button: a feature that served no purpose in my playthrough. Having such a small pool of noises for jumping made the whole game an auditory hell. Listening to the same four grunts every time I pressed space for such a jump intensive game grated on my nerves. By the end, I was really wishing Suicide Guy would’ve at least brought an inhaler so I could have some silence for a brief moment.
The usage of low detail models was incredibly tasteful and only added to the atmosphere.
Thankfully, graphics are one of the redeeming features of the game. Suicide Guy features a vivid color palette that changes for each world: dusty oranges and reds with splashes of bright yellow for desert settings, sleek grays and blues in futuristic levels, gorgeous groves of autumn trees, and lush, green, rolling hills depending on the level you end up in. Entire cities are rendered using a handful of different buildings. This can be seen in a level where you pilot a blimp above a sprawling cityscape. For the most part, the graphics designers invested just the right amount of care and detail, using splotches of charm that don't confuse the player or make levels feel too busy. This being said, other levels can be drab and uninspired. One level that took place in a junkyard felt barren, save for a few key objects essential to the puzzle. A pile of tires could easily be seen through, revealing its hollow interior. I don’t want to be a stickler for little details but I seriously question the structural integrity of Suicide Guy’s dreams.
Suicide Guy caters to the underserved demographic of people who enjoy 3D puzzle platformers, except this serving is more of a home-cooked meal from Grandma’s house after she had gotten dementia. It’s made with love, and is good at certain parts, but in the end, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Graphics and level design can be clever at times, but are essentially ruined by the frustrating physics and collision, lack of any good music, repetitive sound effects, half-finished animations, and stale platforming. I want to love Suicide Guy, and I do, in a way -- I appreciate the effort that was made, but when I was done I felt unsatisfied and dead inside.