I love trophies. I obsess over them more than I should, and maybe that takes away from my gaming experience. But in the case of Drawn to Death it actually made it better. That’s because this game that I didn’t exactly love in our review did something really cool with its story: it hid it in the trophies.
For those who don’t know, the basic premise is that you’re some highschooler who couldn’t give a shit about school and likes to push his edgy attitude into the player’s face at every possible turn. From the tutorial to the character select to the unfortunate use of memes as taunts, there’s a lot of reasons to hate this kid. But then I got my first trophy and discovered he’s not as big a piece of shit as I thought.
Every trophy has a title and a description. The description for each trophy in Drawn to Death is what you’d expect, “Get 1st place in any ranked game” or “Get 1000 total kills in ranked games.” But the titles of these trophies tell a story about the main character. About his insecurities, his struggles with pressure to go to college and most of all his crush on the girl who sits in front of him, Amy. The first trophy I got simply said “I hate my stupid stepdad” and showed a picture of a man in a wifebeater taking his belt off. Heavy stuff.
The trophies tell us about the main character’s doubts about post-secondary education. Two in particular deal with the character’s dislike of Mr Hooper, their teacher, asking them about college. The titles read “Hooper’s talking about college. Again. ‘So what are your plans for college, kids?’ It’s like everyday with this guy” and “Why’s he think we all want to go to college? Decades of student loan debt plus four more years in a classroom? No thanks.”
We also get a peek into the dreams of this student, who wants to make art for video games funnily enough. Two other trophy titles read “I wonder if I could get a job making art. Like after high school. I’d so love to make art for video games!” and “That’s totally stupid and not happening. No one wants a game that looks like my art.” This is essentially the game we’re playing, an arena shooter built from the worlds and characters this kid drew in his notebook, his art. It puts the whole experience in a new perspective and I have to wonder why it wasn’t more obvious in the game that this was the motivation for Drawn to Death.
From these titles we get a much better idea about who we’re playing then we ever actually get in the game. Aside from a live action film when you start the game showing the character’s classroom and Amy herself turning around to get something from her bag, we’re pulled out of this setting and tossed into the vulgar and gross world of his notebook. But these trophies tell a different side of the protagonist, or rather the antagonist. A side that is extremely relatable, sweet and almost endearing. It’s one of the more clever uses of trophies I’ve ever encountered and one of the highlights of my whole experience with Drawn to Death.