I’m glad Death Trash is pixel art, because otherwise I’d be grossed-out by all the raw meat, vomit, and skinlessness. Not to mention the naked old men who seem to cheerfully hang out on the sidelines of this particular post-apocalypse. One of them danced at me.
Here are some of the names on Death Trash’s overworld map: Festering Gorge, Woundland, Puke Bar. It’s not a nice place. I’ve been exiled here because of an illness that means I can’t stay in the underground bunker run by robots where humans chill in VR cyberwombs all day instead of getting jobs. Now I live on the surface with the outcasts, mutants, mysterious gigantic entities called titans, and an endless supply of meat that fountains out of the ground.
That raw meat seems to be the only thing anyone eats, despite the fleshworms crawling around it. With a successful animalism check I pick up a fleshworm to carry around and be my friend. Then I yeet it into a cluster of enemies as a distraction. There are a lot of enemies in the Early Access version of Death Trash, and a pre-release update notes “improved non-combat gameplay” will be part of the full release. So while I can sneak past some fights, I do have to murder a whole lot of mutants while exploring this grotesque wasteland.
Death Trash’s combat is real-time and does the classic RPG thing of pissing me off until I get some decent gear and enough skill points, when it suddenly becomes fun. This happens around the time I find a sword, which I like to carry around because it fits my aesthetic as well as because it does enough damage to drop someone with a single backstab.
The character creator lets you make your own punk, so I’ve gone with sunglasses and a flappy black ensemble, which I later accessorise with a bandana over my mouth. Dressed like this, holding a sword out point-down like an anime character just feels right. At least until I find a claw glove that does even more damage.
Most fights begin from stealth. I activate an implant that turns me invisible long enough to get behind someone’s vision cone and drop them. Being able to take out the most annoying enemy in a group before the rest get mad about it is a definite boon. Then it’s a matter of frantically dodge-rolling between swipes so those precious frames of invincibility keep me safe, hoping everyone dies before my stamina runs out.
There are guns, and a right-click brings up whichever one I’ve got equipped, fluidly switching between shooting and hacking. There are at least six different kinds of ammo so you better believe I’m carrying one of each weapon type just in case, even though I’ve made a melee-build character.
In one corner of a map I found a bandit with a rocket launcher—a one-hit kill weapon—covering all the angles from a cul-de-sac. I threw a blip, which is a thing that goes ‘blip’, distracting the bandit long enough for me to get the Freddy Krueger claws out. I’ve been carrying that rocket launcher ever since and haven’t fired it once, because what if I need it later? This is what happens to my brain in any game with limited ammo.
My favorite way to play Fallout was as a diplomat, talking my way out of most problems, and although Death Trash has an empathy stat I’ve only found a couple of places where it adds dialogue options. Stealth or violence or a combination of the two seems like the way to go, but that’s not to say there’s nothing but combat in this Early Access version of Death Trash.
In one settlement I met a couple of exiles engaged in a vomiting competition, and agreed to help one of them win by finding a real gross thing for him to eat. Performance-enhancing substances are ruining the sport of competitive puking, and I’m part of the problem. I’ve also tried to figure out what the deal is with the mysterious illness that makes me personally so pukey. Seeking out experts in medicine and science led into the mysteries of the titans, which some of the wasteland’s clever people are fixated on, but a few hours in I’ve hit a wall in that unfinished questline. So instead I’m sidequesting, dealing with the Puke Bar’s fleshmaggot problem, and finding friends for the Fleshkraken.
If it’s not obvious from the fact I used the word “puke” three times in that paragraph, this is a game with a hell of a tone, delighting in crassness. Technology runs on vomit, one of the crafting materials is trash, and when you dump things out of your inventory you say “Fuck that” and “No need for this shit.” It’s a world of trash, but that’s OK because I am a trash goblin, determined to thrive on my all-meat diet and all-stab tactics, Naruto-running across the desert with my sword in one hand.