DLC Quest is a well-documented success story of an indie title that satirizes the mainstream gaming industry. Going Loud Studios released the title back in late 2011 on the Xbox 360 and it quickly gained the attention of gamers. It was also a critical hit, winning Official Xbox Magazine’s 2011 Xbox Live Indie Game of the Year award. Ports to both PC and Mac helped increase public awareness, and that notoriety eventually earned the game a release through Steam Greenlight. Not content to just release the same game through another distribution service, developer Ben Kane added a few new features along with a 2nd campaign that does everything the original release did, but better.
The Live Freemium or Die expansion continues the theme of the original game: poking fun at just about everything related to the cash-grabbing methods of large publishers. The biggest swipes are made at industry trends like season passes, DLC NPCs, and features intentionally withheld at release time. Once again, many core elements of a video game must be purchased within the game’s DLC market using in-game currency. There’s also the tongue-in-cheek inclusion of many classic video game tropes, and the developer is never afraid of breaking the 4th wall in order to make the extra joke. It takes a delicate touch for a comedian to know when the joke’s gone on too long, and these two campaigns wrap up before the mockery gets old. Taking my time, I completed both in less than two hours.
Live Freemium or Die feels like a deeper campaign when compared to the original, though the plot isn’t necessarily any more complex. The game thrives on its absurd simplicity, lack of meaningful characters, and strict adherence to gaming clichés. However, the story does feel a bit longer and more entertaining, and it manages to draw upon characters and events from the first adventure in a humorous way. Players who enjoyed the first campaign will likely have the same opinion of this new one, but it isn’t a radically different experience from a thematic standpoint.
There are other areas where Live Freemium or Die manages to separate itself from its forebear. There’s a far larger emphasis on 2D platforming in this go-round. While it was impossible to die in the original campaign, that’s certainly not the case here. In some areas, navigation is tricky enough that checkpoints have been introduced. Well, they can be bought anyway (surprise, surprise). Gone is the double-jump from the first campaign, replaced with a well-used wall jump. There’s nothing here that an experienced platformer player can’t handle, but it’s a notable leap – pun intended – in difficulty. The only complaint I actually have is that there’s a bit too much backtracking, but even some of that is an intentional mockery of the fetch quests prevalent in so many games.
Perhaps the word that best describes DLC Quest is efficient. The developer set out with a goal of zinging the gaming industry, wastes no time doing so, and neatly wraps things up before the game overstays its welcome. As part of the Steam release, achievements were added for both campaigns. For a game as short as DLC Quest is, it’s nice to have an added incentive to go back and play again. There are also leaderboards for those players who are into making speed runs. The audience for DLC Quest is certainly the horde of gaming veterans who will fully appreciate the in-jokes, but even casual players should enjoy this solid platformer.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the Steam PC version provided by the developer for that purpose. The game is also available through the Xbox Live Marketplace.
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