Kaet Must Die is an indie horror-survival puzzle game developed by indie team Strength in Number Studios and claims to be the hardest game ever released, but is it? Let’s find out in our review.
+Extremely well-designed environments and character models
+Controls are intuitively designed and highly responsive
-Extremely hard, so much so, the enjoyment of the game has been removed
-Seems to punish players rather than let them learn from their past mistakes
-A unique premise that is ultimately let down by poor design decisions.
It’s not often that I find a game that both infuriates and intrigues me to continue forth even though I’ve been angered to the point of uninstalling a game before, but nothing like this. Unlike previous games of the same exact genre (Slender, SOMA, and HOLLOW, to name a few), Kaet Must Die is a different entity altogether.
Kaet Must Die from Number Studios isn’t your average run of the mill survival game. It’s a game that turns everything you thought you knew about first-person suspense/survival games on its head by tossing in a clock that quickly winds down as you make your way through horror filled sewers. In order to proceed to the next level in order for you to escape, you have to find clues, notes, and even survive against what lurks in the dark.
But Kaet Must Die isn’t normal. You will die and you will die quite a bit. Those creepy noises you hear in the dark? Those are there to kill you. Nothing in these tunnels are your friends. They’re all here to kill you and see you burnt asunder. Whether it’s a zombie tearing into your flesh or the little gnome-like guys and gals lurking in the dark. They’re all there to tease you, to make you wonder, and ultimately? They’re there to see Kaetheran, your character, die.
However, there’s something a bit misleading about the character you play. Kaetheran, Kaet for short, has the gift of controlling powerful psionic abilities, one that we never really see use her take advantage of what she’s capable of. In order to explore the labyrinthine tunnels that Kaet must survive, we must also take on the task of finding the blood witch Annalinnia, who is trying to make our dear Kaet go insane (if you must, listen to the song Kates in a State by Massive Ego while playing, it fits perfectly).
During your time moving through these tunnels, your only ally is the notes scattered through the depths of these “dungeons” and a few little glowing mushrooms that you can pick up in order to turn them into balls of light that you can send out to light your way. The downside? They don’t last long and you’ll run out of them rather quickly if you begin to panic.
In your first dungeon, your task is to find several skulls hidden throughout the map and put them on a bunch of posts before proceeding to the very next level. On top of these skulls, there are little hints scattered about the map that will give you an idea where they are hidden. As stated before, however, it’s not easy. Everything is out to kill you. Literally, everything. There is nothing friendly lurking in these tunnels. Minus the rats, the rats ignore you, but instead will help drive your sense of paranoia forward.
The only problem is that everything is there to kill you making it almost impossible to get past the first level, which I’ve yet to do, even on the games lowest difficulties and more-less possible on the highest difficulty. Everything was killing me, which didn’t result in being sent back to some minor checkpoint after placing a skull where it needed to go, but rather all the way to the beginning. You have to literally start over every time Kate happens to die. Run out of time? Well, start over there.
Don’t get me wrong. I love hard games. I really do love hard games. I’ve rarely played a game that has infuriated me to the point of walking away as Kaet Must Die has. I’ve not touched the game much since due to how hard it actually is. This isn’t just hard, this is a game that goes one step beyond “I’m just going to kill you” to purposely punishing the player at every chance it gets.
This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if there was some kind of save system, even an autosave I never made it through the first level. The game was set to its lowest difficulty but time and again I would walk into something that killed Kaet and would have to redo everything again. There is also a timer that when it hits zero, everything goes dark and while in the dark Kaet’s sanity lowers. I’ve played my fair share of hard games such as Dark Souls and various roguelikes, but there is a point that goes beyond hard and just purposely punishing the player.
The biggest problem with Kaet Must Die isn’t that it isn’t an interestingly designed game, but the fact it crosses a threshold of what should be considered fun in a hard game to what shouldn’t even be put into the design of a difficult game. While my view of “what’s fun” may be different than your own, this game isn’t geared towards those who want to die, die, and die some more. Sure, I love the jump scares, there’s a good plenty of them, but this? I can’t enjoy, I can’t even recommend as I feel that very few people will progress through the overall story.
Kaet Must Die – PC
Developer: Strength in Numbers Studios, Inc
Publisher: Srength in Numbers Studios, Inc
Release Date: Now Available
But until something is done regarding just how purposely brutal this game is? I’ll be moving onto something else and reconsider approaching this game at a later date. Until then? I’m just now up for dying with little to no way to defend myself while running through a massive labyrinth that has been designed to kill me at every turn.
Our review is based on a retail version that was provided to us by the game’s publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 4.5 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPGs, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.