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Let It Die beginner’s guide

It’s a weird free-to-play game, but you're not alone

Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

Jumping into Let It Die, developer Grasshopper Manufacture's free-to-play PlayStation 4 exclusive, is a bit overwhelming. Frankly, everything about Let It Die is overwhelming, taking hours to play and understand.

We’ve played. We understand. We’re here to save you time. So let’s start breaking down everything about the game to help get your feet under you. You may still die a lot in Let It Die, but you’ll be better prepared to do so after reading this.

Table of contents

  • The basics: the point of the game, inventory management, weapons, armor, blueprints, grilling and enemies.
  • Fighters: getting more fighters, slots, leveling up and stats.
  • The waiting room: your home base, Vanishing Point, Fighter Freezer, Club Mushroom, decals, Buffalo Bank, SPLithium Tank, Choku-Funsha, Storage Chest, Reward Box and Tokyo Death Metro.
  • The Hated Arcade: Uncle Death, Meijin, Mother Barbs, Naomi Detox and the radio.
  • The rest: everything else you need to know, like fighting, haters and hunters, Direct Hell insurance, Death Metal and ditching items.

The basics

Diving in and expecting Let It Die to be like any other game you’ve ever played (like we did) is a sure way to end up confused and frustrated. The game does a fine job of introducing you to core concepts like punching and jumping, but if you’re not careful, you’ll miss a lot of the nuances of what you’re about to be doing. And things start coming at you fast after you finish the tutorial. What follows is a "what we wish we knew" for Let It Die.

Everything is expendable

The first thing you need to learn about Let It Die is that everything is expendable and everything is replaceable. Everything. Your gear, your weapons, even your favorite fighter. The sooner you let go of your attachment to things, the easier this game will be for you.

So what’s the point?

The point is to hack-and-slash (and shoot and burn and buzzsaw and generally eviscerate) your way to the top of the 40-story (or -storey if you’re Sherlock Holmes) Tower of Barbs.

How do I do that?

The same way as you do in real life, by taking the escalator. Or the elevator.

Every floor of the Tower of Barbs will have at least an entrance and an exit (and sometimes more than one). The exit is an escalator, so when you see an escalator, you know you’re about to move on to the next floor and meet more difficult enemies.

Some floors have elevators that you can turn on. While you have to pay in-game currency to ride them, it’s pretty cheap and worth every penny Kill Coin. Elevators return you to your Waiting Room where you can heal up, turn in blueprints, buy new weapons, hit your storage chest or buy buffs for your fighter. You can also take the elevator back up to any floor you’ve activated as a shortcut past the early floors.

Use the elevators. Don’t push on and hope to make it to the next elevator or turn around and try to retrace your steps all the way to the Waiting Room. Just pay the fare and ride the elevator down. You lose everything you’re carrying when you die, so it’s not worth the risk. Better to just go dump your inventory and upgrade your fighters and their equipment every chance you get.

Storage space is your enemy

Unless you’re ready to start shelling out real-world cash for upgrades, you’re going to be working with very limited storage space — 10 slots in your Death Bag (on your person and in your mobile inventory) and 20 slots in your storage chest in the Waiting Room. While that’s not nothing, it fills up quick. Nothing stacks and you’re going to be picking up a lot of stuff. Even the weapons you have equipped on your fighter take up a slot in your Death Bag.

So what’s important to carry?

Early on, everything is important. Your gear is going to wear out almost as fast as you can replace it, and you’ll be going through health potions (mushrooms and beasts in Let It Die) as fast as you pick them up.

As you settle in, you can start to get a little more picky about which weapons you really want and what gear is better than what you’re wearing. You’re also going to be picking up blueprints and upgrade materials. Let’s talk more about the types of items you’ll find.

What kinds of things will I find in the Tower?

You’ll find gear, blueprints, materials, mushrooms and beasts. That’s a weird list (it’s a weird game), so let’s break them each down.


Either as a drop from a defeated enemy or as a gift from a crate, you’ll pick up gear throughout every one of your trips into the Tower. Every time you’re about to pick something up, you’ll get a pop-up that gives you the item’s stats and a choice of equipping it immediately or storing it in your Death Bag for later.


Weapons are your primary, um, weapons against your opponents in the Tower (sorry, that sentence got away from us). There are one-handed and two-handed weapons that deal slashing, piercing, crushing, fire, electricity or poison damage (or some combination thereof).

In the pop-up info for a weapon, the first line tells you whether it requires one hand or two to wield. Some weapons have requirements before you can wield them — that’s the next bit of information. Along a bar graph below that, you’ll see the breakdown of the damage dealt.


While it’s possible (and kind of entertaining) to take on the Tower in your underpants, you’ll probably want to cover up eventually. That’s what armor’s for. There are three types of armor, broken down by where you wear it.

Head armor goes on your head. Pieces of head armor (or "hats" as we’ll call them from now on) are a little different than body or leg armor in that they grant a boost to your abilities rather than provide a boost to your defenses. You can see the boost to your various stats in the hat’s info box (hat stats, if you will). More on your fighter’s stats below.

Body armor goes on your torso. Leg armor goes on your legs. We hope you’re taking notes. Both body and leg armor grant bonuses to your defenses against the various kinds of damage dealt by enemy weapons.

A note on durability

Almost every piece of armor and weapon you use has a durability — the only items that never break down are your two hands. As the durability decreases, the effectiveness of the item — the amount of damage the weapon deals or the damage the armor absorbs — decreases as well. When the durability reaches zero, the item disappears. You can’t repair items. You can only find or buy new stuff. It’s just part of the game. It’s the circle of life. Equip something else and move on. We’ll talk a little more about durability in blueprints and materials and Choku-Funsha below.

Blueprints and materials

Around the second or third floor, you’ll start finding blueprints locked away in crates. These are invaluable. You turn in blueprints at the Choku-Funsha shop in the Waiting Room. These blueprints allow you to buy much more durable gear, freeing you from relying on random drops of fragile hand-me-downs.

With the materials you pick up, you can strengthen the gear unlocked by the blueprints and upgrade what you can buy from Kommodore Suzuki at Choku-Funsha.


Mushrooms, just like in real life, are either for eating or for throwing. [Editor’s note: Please don’t eat or throw mushrooms that you randomly find growing in towers.] Mushrooms that you eat either restore your HP or buff one or more of your abilities. Mushrooms that you throw debuff or damage your enemies.

Each mushroom has a different effect and any mushroom can be eaten, so read the pop-up carefully before you decide what to do.


You’ll also encounter beasts like frogs, lizards, rats and scorpions. Beasts are for eating, and eating restores HP. To eat a beast, you first have to catch it. Crouch and walk up to a beast to pick it up. You then have to option to eat it now or stuff it into your Death Bag like some sort of gruesome doggy bag.

You do have another option when it comes to beasts, though. Instead of catching them, you can remain standing and stomp on them. Stomping on (and killing) a beast, will cause a mushroom to grow on their corpse. Each beast grows a different kind of mushroom with different effects.

A note on grilling

Just like in real life, grilling makes everything better in Let It Die. If you cook mushrooms or beasts, their effects increase. Cook everything. Open flames are pretty rare in the Tower, but there’s always one at Club Mushroom. (More on Club Mushroom below.)

A workaround is the Fireworks Launcher. This is a weapon you’ll likely encounter pretty early in the game. If you target and shoot a beast with the Fireworks Launcher, it will already be cooked when you pick it up.

Tell me about my fighter(s)

You see, Let It Die is kind of a game within a game. The "real" world is an arcade where you’re sitting with Uncle Death at a machine called the DEATH DRIVE 128 playing a game called Let It Die. In this game, you operate a team of three to 10 replaceable grunts that you control as they fight their way to the top of the Tower of Barbs.

Your fighters have stats broken into six categories: HP, stamina, strength, dexterity, vitality and luck. These translate pretty much directly to standard role-playing game stats:

  • HP is how many hit points you have and how much damage you can take
  • Stamina is how long you can run and dodge and how many swings you can take before you get winded
  • Strength is how much damage you can deal in hand-to-hand combat
  • Dexterity is the damage you can deal with firearms and other ranged weapons
  • Vitality relates to your defenses against the various kinds of damage
  • Luck affects how many kill coins you get and your chances of scoring a critical hit

Your fighters also fall into eight classes. You start the game with only one option, the All-Rounder. The All-Rounder, as the name suggests, is a good generalized fighter. As you continue up the floors of the Tower, you’ll unlock the additional, more specialized classes. (The first classes you’ll unlock are Striker and Collector on the third floor.)

How do I get more fighters?

You get more fighters by going into the Fighter Freezer in the Waiting Room and buying them with Kill Coins (All-Rounders are free). Pick an empty slot (or dispose of one of your current fighters to free one up) and you’ll pick another fighter off the train, just like you did at the very beginning of the game.

How do I get more fighter slots?

You can add fighter slots at the Tokyo Death Metro counter. More on this below.

How do I improve my fighters’ stats?

By earning EXP and cashing in that EXP with Mingo Head.

You earn EXP by doing things in the Tower — killing enemies, eating beasts, etc. When you make it to an elevator and back down to the Waiting Room, you’ll run into Mingo Head. You can turn your hard-earned EXP into stat improvements.

EXP is not shared among your fighters, so you’ll have to put in the work on each of them if you want to level them all up.

What’s going on in the Waiting Room?

A lot. There’s a lot going on in the Waiting Room. It’s your home base, and it’s where all your friends hang out.

Vanishing Point

The fountain in the middle of the Waiting Room serves two purposes. First, it completely heals the fighter you’re controlling at the time — meaning you don’t have to spend the time finding mushrooms or beasts. Second, it’s your exit to the Hated Arcade. (More on that below.)

Fighter Freezer

The fighter freezer is where you go to manage your team of fighters. It’s also where you go to send your spare fighters out on expeditions to raid other players’ worlds as Hunters.

Club Mushroom

Staffed by the Mushroom Magistrate, the manic Lady Gaga-esque character you helped during the tutorial level, Club Mushroom is where you go to buy and manage decals for your fighters. There’s also an open flame out front where you can grill your mushrooms and beasts.


Decals are stickers that grant a skill buff or a general benefit to your fighters.

Buffalo Bank

The Buffalo Bank is where all of your Kill Coins are automatically stored. You don’t need to (and can’t) interact with it at any point, but other players’ banks are destructible during raids (see TDM below).

SPLithium Tank

Just like the Buffalo Bank, the SPLithium you collect (by killing Haters or Hunters or going on raids) is automatically stored in the SPLithium Tank. You’ll never have to interact with this either, but you can destroy the tanks in other players’ Waiting Rooms to steal their SPLithium. SPLithium is used when you strengthen items in the Choku-Funsha store.


Choku-Funsha is Let It Die’s store and upgrade shop. It’s run by Kommodore Suzuki who looks like if Hitler was Mr. Freeze and also had just graduated high school. Choku-Funsha is where you turn in blueprints and and use the materials you find to strengthen the items you’ve already found the blueprints for.

You can only buy items you’ve turned in blueprints for (and completed the R&D on), but you can sell anything you have in your Death Bag or storage chest for Kill Coins.

Storage chest

When you run out of room in your Death Bag, you can keep things in your storage chest. Items in here are shared between all of your fighters.

Rewards box

The items your fighters raid during expeditions, login bonuses and quest rewards (among other things) show up in your Rewards Box. You’ll know there’s something new in there if the green light above it is on.

Tokyo Death Metro

The Tokyo Death Metro (TDM) is a sort of Mad Max train line that lets you raid other players’ Waiting Rooms. The TDM is run by a robotic Goosebumps dummy named Tetsuo. During raids, you can steal from other players’ banks or SPLithium tanks and you can kidnap their fighters by carrying them back to the train. Kidnapped fighters are stored in the restroom of your Waiting Room (where else?).

You can also improve your Waiting Room here. You can do things like add slots to your Fighter Freezer and increase the cap on your Buffalo Bank and SPLithium Tank.

The TDM unlocks after you defeat the mid-boss on the third floor. (You’ll get an email from Uncle Death when it’s unlocked.)

Tell me about the Hated Arcade

The Hated Arcade is the "real" world of Let It Die, where you sit with Uncle Death to play the game Let It Die (it’s a weird game). There are five points of interest in the arcade.

Uncle Death

Uncle Death is your skateboarding Grim Reaper guide and companion throughout Let It Die. Talk to him when you’re ready to drop back into the Tower.


To the right of Uncle Death is Meijin, a pro gamer who will provide you with tips and tricks periodically. You’ll know he’s got a tip for you if he’s giving you a m’lady look when you’re in the arcade. He’ll also email you the tip as soon as you get back in the game.

Mother Barbs

Just to the left of Uncle Death is the Mother Barbs machine. Use it to watch informational videos about the Tower of Barbs.

Naomi Detox

To the left of the Mother Barb unit is the arcade’s counter, staffed by the phone-addicted Naomi Detox. Talking to her lets you get at the DEATH DRIVE D-MATE laptop, where you can pick up quests to complete in Let It Die.

The Radio

There’s also a radio on the end of the counter. Here, you can change the background music in the Waiting Room. Additional songs get unlocked as you progress up the tower.

What else do I need to know?


Try to make sure you only ever take on one enemy at a time (if you can avoid it). It doesn’t matter how strong you are or what level you are, you’ll get overwhelmed by bad guys quickly if you’re not strategic in your approach. You can usually kite enemies away from their friends and back into an open area you’ve already cleared.

Friendly fire

If you do find yourself facing more than one enemy at a time (as is often the case with Haters), friendly fire can help. Your enemies can damage each other. Try to line them up and maneuver to keep them in each others’ way. With some luck, you’ll get them to take each other out before you have to step in and clean up.

Haters and Hunters

One of the asynchronous multiplayer aspects of Let It Die are the Haters. A player that dies on a given floor may spawn as a Hater in your game. Haters are stronger and more dangerous that the other enemies on a given floor, but reward you with more Kill Coins and SPLithium.

Another multiplayer encounter you might have are Hunters. Hunters are fighters that other players send into your world using the Fighter Freezer. These also tend to be tougher than the surrounding enemies, but are usually not very well equipped.

Fighting Haters

There’s a trick to fighting Haters (and almost all enemies, really): back up. There are very few attacks that you cannot avoid simply by continuing to back up during the attack’s animation. In your attacker’s recovery period after the swing, step in and pick away at him. Don’t get too ambitious, though. Just take a swing or two, then keep backing up. This makes Haters many, many levels higher than you entirely manageable if you’re patient.

Direct Hell Insurance

There’s an insurance company in the game named Direct Hell. The first time you die in the Tower, Kiwako Seto will explain the details to you (and try to sell you on the $15 per month service). DH allows you to spend Death Metal to continue after you get killed. You can pay one Death Metal to revive your fighter with full health without losing any of your items or decals — with the added bonus that whoever you were fighting doesn’t heal.

Death Metal

Death Metal is represented by a rainbow skull icon. It’s a kind of currency. There’s no sure way to earn Death Metal in Let It Die without paying for it. You can get them for earning Stamps in the Tower, from your Reward Box as a login bonus and from Uncle Death’s Uncle Prime service (a once-per-day gift), but they’re not guaranteed and the quantity will be small.

Can I buy more ammo?

No. Once a weapon is out of bullets, it’s done. See our note up top about everything being expendable.

So how do I get rid of equipped items such as this gun that’s recently become a paperweight?

You can choose to discard it from your Death Bag, or you can hold X and hit the D-pad for a more expedient option.