It’s all about cooperation. That’s the main message with BFF or Die, where up to four players work together to navigate a series of puzzling levels. Although it’s not too clear from the game’s page on the Microsoft Store, you can also play it solo too. However, it’s always more fun arguing with someone else in the same room, or is that just what happens when I play?
Anyhow, you and your friends assume the roles of brightly coloured time travelling aliens who are on a mission to rescue the “Orbees”. It just so happens these creatures are your mates, who find themselves stranded on Earth in Ancient Egypt. After selecting which alien to play as, you then enter what looks like an intergalactic slot machine aboard your spaceship to get started.
BFF or Die is a puzzle game at heart, in where you have to rescue all the Orbees on each stage, and then return to your travel pod to clear the level. There is also an artefact to collect in each level, but they will vanish if left unclaimed for too long. BFF or Die feels partly inspired by Pac-Man, as you are chased through the maze-like tombs trying to avoid enemies and save all your Orbee mates.
Talking of enemies, there are a few different nasties doing the rounds, such as Mummies, Ghosts and even what looks like Anubis himself, who will pursue you during each level. There are also pressure switches which will need to be used to fully open up the levels. However, a simple touch from an enemy will make you unwell, and if your teammates don’t heal you quickly it’s the end of the road unfortunately. In BFF or Die you win together and you lose together.
After every few levels you will return to base, that being your spaceship, and your handy robot assistant will update you as to any upgrades to your gadgets as well as other noteworthy news. It’s here, by approaching the rotating silver trophy, that you can track how many artefacts you have found. There are also two joysticks, left and right, which you can push to cycle through previously beaten zones to replay them. However, it wasn’t too clear to me what these are for at first, as between them it should display which zone you are selecting but instead there is simply a mishmash of random shapes, instead of letters and numbers.
There’s a practical reason for saving the Orbees, as well as an emotional one – they are very adept at building gadgets for you to use during your adventure. These include the “grabber”, which allows you to pick up enemies and even yourself, and then drop off anywhere on the stage. Another is the “drone tower”, which acts as a kind of magnet, drawing all enemies to it once activated. Of course, these drain a substantial amount of power and will need time to recharge after a few uses. This stops the levels from being far too easy whilst adding some welcome complexity and choice when solving the puzzles.
Difficulty is something that BFF or Die gets pretty spot on for the most part. The curve is smooth and the levels get more complicated as you play. There are 30 in total but they all differ slightly, depending on how many people are playing. When you finish this lot, you’ll unlock the “Infinite Trials”, which are an endless set of randomly generated stages which are designed to really test your skills. Being honest, these don’t really add much and the increased difficulty doesn’t do a lot to help tempt you in.
It’s worth noting too that there is plenty of easy Gamerscore to be had in BFF or Die. Remember those pressure switches I mentioned? Step on your first one for 50G. You’ll have easily bagged over 500G in your first 30mins or so of playing.
Overall, there’s probably a couple of hours of gameplay on offer at most here. The levels are wrapped up in a basic story told by character dialogue, however this very much plays second fiddle to the gameplay itself. It’s short and simple, but despite bringing only a few ideas to the table, it’s well-executed.
BFF or Die on Xbox is clearly best played with friends, but the inclusivity of a single player mode is welcome, despite being less enjoyable. It’s lacking compared to some other party games out there, but it will provide a couple of hours of fun to those prepared to give it a chance.