You ever ran across a game that raised so many questions in your head that you just had to buy it after drinking maybe one too many mojitos while trying not to sink into the hell scape that is your brain after staying up until 3am trying to write….
Not that I know anything about that but I did find a game that I had to try. That game is Press X to Not Die.
What is the Game About?
Press X to Not Die is a Full Motion Video (FMV for short), Interactive-Movie experience with its main game mechanic being quick time events. The game was officially published in October 2017 by All Seeing Eye Games after being in the Steam Early Access program for two years, when it was first put on the platform in October 2015. The game also had an Xbox Live Games release a few months earlier in August.
The title Press X to Not to Die is actually a common trope phrase for the Quick Time Event style of game play. Basically press the buttons or mash the correct button quickly enough to not die. Similar to the gameplay in Dragon’s Lair where if you were not quick enough to hot the correct prompt it’s game over. Press X to Not Die is pretty much the same concept but instead of animation, this was filmed on a GoPro camera with the buttons prompts as an overlay where the player interacts with the story.
There are and have been more recent examples of this with live action movies or Full Motion Video (FMV) with a chose your own adventure style of game play but this one is purely a quick time event game through and through with very little or no choose you own adventure style of play as the story is linear. These games prioritize the story telling and filming of actors over core gameplay mechanics that are typically used. The developers have to hook players right away with an intriguing premise.
A fantastic example of this was the recent smash hit from 2020 At Dead Of Night by Baggy Cat Ltd. A gripping horror game where the characters are actors playing in a mostly 3D environment simulating a hotel with the main antagonist being an actor himself. The filmed sequences are terrifying and makes you feel like your in a horror movie. While on a gameplay level At Dead of Night is far more mechanic heavy then games like Her Story (2015) and Five Dates (2020), yet there is a distinct focus on overall presentation and mood which the FMV subgenre is brilliant for. Especially for developers that are not as tech savvy as other studios. FMVs have created a notable style in combining live action and 3D rendering that has made them stand out from the crowd in the saturated video game marketplace.
The general consensus from Steam users for Press X to Not Die is positive for the most part with more recent reviews being more mixed.
On Metacritic there are almost no reviews with the exception of two and one of which was by a critic under website GameGrin. Andrew Duncan’s review in 2018 had this to say about the game.
Given Press X to Not Die’s short playtime, there’s not much to talk about. It’s acted well, and hammed up when applicable, it’s fun to play, and given the price I am more than happy to recommend this. However, I know it might not be for everyone, so I feel that I should score it to reflect that. (Duncan, Andrew 2018 Press X to Not Die Review, Website: https://www.gamegrin.com/reviews/press-x-to-not-die-review/)
Other reviewers had what I would called mixed-positive reactions. A Youtuber under the channel name DashieGames who recorded himself playing the game in 2015. He seemed to be kind of into the game and had some fun but by the end didn’t seem to like the game as much as he thought he would.
Daz Games also recorded a session of the game in late 2015 and he seemed really into it. Overall he had a great time with the game and even in the description said the game was amazing.
Early Access and Development
As I mentioned before, the game was in early access for two years and after watching the gameplay footage from 2015 and my gameplay now, it seems not a whole lot was added.
According to the updates spanning the years in early access they added a tracker so you can see if you seen all the game as to offer in a easy way, a “death gallery” so you can re-watch your failures/deaths, Steam Trading Cards, the soundtrack was made available, the DLC Special Edition was made public, and finally making any remaining bug fixes, adjustments, and fully integrating SteamOS, Linux, and MAC support.
They also added a 1994 filter option, this allowed players if they chose to play with a heavily pixelated filter over the video. It was kind of interesting little extra to add in. I took some screenshots below to demonstrate this effect when its turned on.
During the Beta cycle of the game, they also added a “Juggalo” branch of which they added some additional choices at the end with instructions on how to unlock it. This branch also always access to a blooper reel among other things. This branch was eventually “retired” as eventually everything became available in the main game soon after.
The Special Edition that came out around this time contained mostly extra tidbits about the game including behind the scenes photos, the full script, the original prototype of the game and some extra artwork and cover art, nothing in terms of extra gameplay from what I can see.
After these changes were added including gall the support for OS, the game was officially launched out of early access.
Once the final update in 2017 for OS support for the Special Edition, that was it and the game had had nothing else since added.
The Gameplay and Story
The gameplay is pretty self explanatory as you read earlier. The game is in a first person view and you have to react quickly to press the correct button or button mash to pass each objective to continue the story.
The story itself is for the most part a very self aware kind of parody of quick time events and B-Rated horror films.
You find yourself waking up to the sound of your roommate in a panic. According to him, the town is going crazy with civilians killing each other (think of the movie The Crazies with the townsfolk acting all kinds of messed up). He then tells you to “Press X to not Die” before a unknown person kills him before you eyes and runs away. In shock of what had occurred you quickly realize you need to call your girlfriend and find her then find safety.
You call her and tell her that something is going wrong in the town and that you will come to pick her up. On the way you’re met with other people that have gone insane as well. You quickly dodge and make your way to your girlfriend’s house where you fine her roommate has also become deranged. After saving her, she decides to wash up after killing her roommate and you clean up the mess. You both quickly escape and soon find yourself in a lab where you find others in a similar state as the townsfolk.
Finally, you manage to find an unaffected scientist who tells you an experiment went horrible wrong and thus making everything around them function like a video game where certain people (such as you and your girlfriends) press buttons to dodge and fight enemies. Basically in the town, some people became “players” while everyone else became “NPCs/Enemies”
She then tells you there is a car in the garage where they can escape and gives you a choice of a weapon to take with you.
Once your in the parking garage, you find yourself facing off a clown only to realize its another “player” type that has button prompts like you do (you can’t see them but your girlfriend implies this). Basically this is the final boss fight of the game. Once you beat the clown, you grab the car and manage to escape the town. You and your girlfriends cuddle up with some hot drinks and the credits roll.
Overall the story itself is a typical cheesy horror-ish style kind of deal with a lot of references to video game tropes and jokes to boot.
Its a pretty short and sweet story as well with the filler mainly hitting button prompts to avoid enemies. When you look at the actual gameplay aspect you can tell the programming behind the scenes was super basic. I don’t get the impression these were video game developers but mainly filmmakers with some programming know-how.
They essentially filmed all the scenes beforehand and put an overlay of the button prompts to flash on the screen with a timer. If the button(s) are pressed correctly and within the time frame, the sequence continues. If you fail to do so, the movie stops and plays one of the other pre-recorded videos of a dying sequence.
The gameplay overall is very, very basic and not really the highlight of the overall game. The story and goofiness of the presentation is what carries this game by far.
About the Studio, Cast, Etc.
All Seeing Eye Games is based in Vancouver with a few previous games under their belts. All these games were published mainly on the Xbox 360 including Drum Studio and Recording Studio. However, it seems that since the Xbox Live Indie program was shut down by Microsoft, the games no longer exist and I wasn’t able to find a way to play them at the moment.
The live-action portion was filmed in Vancouver, Canada using a go-pro camera as I stated before with those behind the camera also acting certain scenes.
Press X to Not Die is the last game they produced under their studio name to date. The Game Designer and Screenplay writer was Darren Joe and the Director for the Live Action Sections was Trevor Tablotney.
Darren Joe had worked on another short film before this game called Logic Problem in 2012 of which he was the writer, producer and played as one of the actors. I couldn’t find any information on this film other then it was 7 minutes long and was a comedy made in Canada.
As for Trevor Tablotney, he worked in the camera and electrical department for a short film a year later in 2016 in Canada as well. Again, very little information about what it was.
My only guess is that these were college or thesis projects as information about them is minimal at best.
Christoph Leon who played as the player (you can see his arm in the screenshot above me) was involved in two other projects after the game and that was basically it.
The main cast itself was five people including sixteen playing as additional cast, including Darren and Trevor who also played lesser roles in the filming. These people also handled behind the scenes duties as well including sound design, location audio, caterer, and so on. It was a pretty impressive operation looking at the behind the scenes photos and a lot of work went into the project.
Information about the cast for the most part is all over the place. Some seemed to have stayed in the film industry to some degree or stopped completely. I found several of the make up artists listed still are working in the industry and are involved in some pretty big productions so kudos to the make up department. Seriously a lot of people involved in the project had tons of experience and immense backgrounds in the film industry.
I did reach out to the business contact for some more questions on the cast but they didn’t respond and I have to assume at this point that the email is no longer being monitored as the website dates to 2017 with an unsecure connection as indicated by the web address, so its possible the domain and webpage is still being paid and monitored any activity and updates has stopped. At this point, I have to assume the company is on a hiatus or not announcing any new projects anytime soon.
If I ever do hear back from them, I’ll do a second post with a Q&A.
Interestingly enough, it does look like their Facebook is still active but the updates are more jokey with discussions on the game and other unrelated posts.
There was an update that sadly one of the cast passed away, Ryan Nicholson who was one of the make up artists for the game, in October 2019. His history in the film industry and work is pretty spectacular. He was involved in make up for a ton of shows and movies such as Andromeda, The Predator (2018), and Deadpool 2 just to name a few.
Rest in Peace Ryan and My Condolences to his family and friends.
As a final note, one joke I saw in the game and online was a so called sequel to Press X to Not Die. Some comments as indicated on steam took this seriously with them asking about if a sequel would ever be made. My guess is no as after looking online, I saw no announcements of a sequel. I’m certain this was meant to be a joke in the game and a second game was not planned.
Would I Recommend it and Final Thoughts
This is probably one of the most straight forward games I covered thus far as its a linear, single player game that is at most a hour or so long.
I was charmed by the overally unpolished feel the whole game had. It felt and played like someone’s passion project. Which is something I can get behind for a simple game ment for a very niche audience.
I think for the price and for an hours worth of enterainment if your a fan of super hammy, Full-Motion-Video style games then this could bew a goodd choice for you.
I liked it for what it was but given the fact its linear and once you play it that’s the entire experience for an hour its a rough sell. Also to be completely fair, not all of the jokes hit. Some of them are kind of cringy but I also understand that may have been intentional as again cheesiness is something the story focuses on. Its trying to parody horror/action video games with quick time events. The whole game is basically a joke but a well meaning and intentional joke which is why I cannot be so hard on it for how basic it really is from a technical level.
I’ve played many other FMV games that I would say are far better then Press X to Not Die but none of them have felt this self aware and bat shit crazy as this one was.
I’m a huge fan of this more indie, off the beaten path but delightfully cheesy games. It reminds me of when you and your friends have a camera and you decide to make a movie. The movie will be god awful usually but you have fun making it and that fun can be contagious to the people who find the movie later and watch it.
This feels like a fun and loose project for a bunch of people to make something goofy and out there for fans of these types of games. Yes is it super short and yes unless your super curious the special DLC edition is pointless but for an hour or two of entertainment for the super low price they are asking for and the novelty of a lower budget/cheesy styled FMV game, its hard to argue with.
Therefore, yes if you are a fan of indie games and FMV games especially this is one I think is worth picking up for a good bit of fun and humor.
If you want to give Press X to Not Die a try, you can purchase the game on Steam for $2.99 USD or whatever your regional equivalent is.