As someone who’s spent a good deal of time tending to The Entity’s beloved meat hooks in Dead By Daylight, I had high expectations about what developer Behaviour Interactive would work on next. And thankfully, they’ve delivered yet another fresh idea that I can’t stop thinking about with a unique first-person action game: Meet Your Maker. Pitting yourself against the creativity and cruelty of your fellow players in raids is tense and hilarious, and hours fly by while building your own playgrounds of destruction and watching players die to them. The options in your toolbelt are a little barebones, the world and story hardly even try to do anything interesting, and there’s plenty of bugs and general jankiness that need to be smoothed over. But I’ve never played anything quite like Meet Your Maker before, and even though it still feels a bit rough around the edges, the fact that it’s just so refreshingly different makes me want to spend all my time tricking my friends
Meet Your Maker takes place in a Mad Max-like post-apocalyptic world that’s as generic as they come. The flimsy story describes a world that’s fallen to an unnamed disease, leaving humanity fighting one another for uncorrupted genetic material to create a cure. You play a Custodian – a cool-looking robot with a sword, a grapple hook, and some sweet ninja moves – and spend your time raiding outposts to collect genetic material to bring back to your not-at-all creepy Chimera, who insists she has humanity’s best interests at heart as she encourages you to murder everything you see. If that sounds like an awfully convenient excuse for you to raid bases, that’s because it definitely is, and at least for now, the story doesn’t develop at all beyond this vague premise.
The good news is, however undercooked the story might be, the dungeon-raiding action it sets up for is absolutely fantastic. Divided into two parts, you’ll spend your time either assaulting player-made bases to steal their genetic material or building your own deadly fortresses of destruction for your peers to assault, both of which are a blast. Player-led dungeon creators aren’t new, Mario Maker being a popular example, but Meet Your Maker’s Doom-like first-person shooting perspective downright evil traps set it apart.
As the attacking player, you’ll pick from a list of outposts randomly selected from the community across three difficulties, each of which differ wildly in their average quality and structure. Some creators lack imagination and merely fill their bases with bad guys for you to shoot, while others create confounding mazes overflowing with traps waiting to kill reckless explorers. Since you’re a badass robot, you have the advantage of being able to move quickly (especially when making use of the all-important grapple hook and an impressive double jump), and can wield a variety of ranged and melee weapons alongside other gadgets like grenades. Unfortunately, you also can be killed in a single hit from almost any source, which sends you all the way back to the start of the level – a brutal policy of which I’m quite fond, aside from the irritating loading screen that accompanies each death. And more painful still: the ammo available to you is extremely scarce, meaning you can only keep your distance and play it safe for so long before you have to dive headlong into the unknown and face whatever the world’s builder has left waiting for you.
Because building bases is an expensive hobby, you’ll need to spend most of your time exploring the levels of your fellow creators to amass the resources required to level up your arsenal. Luckily, doing so is a ton of fun, not only because grappling around as you dodge traps and fight off mutants feels great, but because you’ll likely never play the same stage twice. Some levels took me into dark underground areas to dodge tricky traps in narrow hallways, while others were massive works of art that had me climbing foreboding towers filled with enemies. Honing your skills in each new level and discovering the wonderful or awful ideas that someone else came up with is rarely a dull affair – like one cruel level where I had to navigate walkways surrounded by deadly magma as I dodged incoming fire from enemies and traps alike.
That action is held back by a fair number of bugs and general jankiness though, like how sometimes the grapple hook will just gain a mind of its own and swing about wildly to pull you in a direction you didn’t shoot it, or how menus lock up for long periods of time if you mistakenly try buying an upgrade you don’t have enough supplies for. Most of the issues are minor, but together they give the experience a bit of a “work in progress” feel.
The real fun, though, comes from creating your own levels in hopes of utterly breaking the spirits of your rivals. By using a variety of building blocks, traps, and enemy mobs, you can create practically any kind of dungeon your heart desires, then unleash it on others. One especially successful level I made was an insidious combination of traps, enemies, and claustrophobic spaces that never gave the invader a chance to catch their breath, while another used lava blocks and aggressive mobs early on to trick players into permanently losing their ammo to make the rest of the level significantly harder. Even grinding through hostile levels as a raider can be useful for building your own, as you discover the kinds of nasty tricks that tend to kill you and then use them as inspiration.
Being a terrible person by building monstrous levels can also be incredibly beneficial, too, as you’re rewarded for each player death you cause, and can return to your bases to collect the bounty would-be treasure hunters leave behind. As you rack up kills, you’ll also have the chance to level up your stage, unlocking additional build capacity so you can make that level even more horrifying. What’s more: you can even watch replays of each player’s attempt on your base to see a play-by-play of how they met their early demise, providing valuable insight into what worked and what didn’t work so you can optimize your stages to be even more painful – so dang cool!
That said, one of the main issues with Meet Your Maker, whether you’re building or adventuring, is that your options are quite thin at the moment. There’s only two playable characters, four enemy types, and a handful of weapons. Traps and the modifiers for them are by far the most fleshed out part with nine options to pick from, each of which has a handful of mods to change how they work, but even those could stand to have a few more options. Thankfully, Behaviour Interactive is deploying this with a similar live-service model that made Dead By Daylight the remarkable game it is today. It’s even already offered a look at the roadmap immediately following launch, but that’s good because there’s certainly a lot of room to grow. After about 30 hours exploring and building, I’m starting to feel constrained.
Meet Your Maker can also be played in glorious co-op in any of its modes, whether it’s building your own levels together or storming someone else's. Building remains mostly the same, though it’s nice to have another set of eyes and hands to help with the construction process. Adventuring, however, is a markedly different experience, since adding another player carries few drawbacks and has plenty of advantages. When one player dies during exploration the living player can revive them, and having double the ammo is extremely nice. Really the only drawback is that friendly fire is turned on, and your friend might set off a trap or draw the attention of an enemy that gets you killed, which is more hilarious than annoying.
One thing that is a little odd about the multiplayer experience is that there aren’t separate level playlists for duos. When making levels, I usually had a single explorer in mind, so it’s a bit odd when two people enter the level and don’t have the experience I’d intended. It would definitely be nice to be able to distinguish between single-player and multiplayer levels, or at least give extra resources for additional enemies or traps that only appear when two players join the level together.