Incredibly fun and light-hearted, Dumb Ways To Die is a mini game mash-up used to educate and raise awareness around train and railway safety. It’s definitely an alternative way of delivering a rather serious message, yet Metro Trains has pulled it off and has in the process spawned a quick ‘n’ easy touch screen title, packed with plenty of giggles and a fair amount of re-playability.
Dumb Ways To Die falls into the same net as other quirky, fast-paced puzzlers such as Wario Ware and the more recent Frobisher Says. The objective is to clear a ongoing string of mini-games that get progressively faster as you go along. Put in a good performance and you’ll start populating your train station with a number of the game’s cute, albeit masochistic, characters.
Mini-games come in a number of varieties, none of which last more than a few seconds. In one frame you’ll be plugging up bullet wounds, and in the next, tilting your device to self-right an eerily smug-looking chappy. The more you play, the more puzzles you’ll come across including bear-poking, piranha bothering, and avoiding the clutches of cartoon serial killers.
The spread of mini-games are mostly consistent though there are a couple that could do with refining. One puzzle has players wiping vomit from their screens, an almost impossible task if you happen to be playing on iPad or even an iPad Mini, through the much greater screen size compared to a phone. Another requires players to blow into the mic to keep a plane afloat, though I was unable to do so after a dozen or so attempts. They by no means do they detract from the overall experience, though, and as soon as your three lives expire, you can start it all over and aim for those high scores.
The only major complain would be the overall lack of puzzles on offer. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty there, but Dumb Ways To Die could certainly benefit from a few updates and additions down the road.
Part of the game’s charm has to its vibrant yet simplistic art style. In this respect it can again be compared to Honeyslug’s Frobisher Says, though both games have an equally distinct sense of character, which in this case is amplified by the chirpy music and sound effects.
Dumb Ways To Die is a great little touch screen puzzler, but the lack of mini-games means it won’t be one of those continual time sinks like Temple Run. Still, it’s rather brilliant and helps teach younger audiences about the dangers of acting carelessly.