Death Noodle Delivery Review – Surfing The Cyberspace

Cyberpunk is a popular setting for many games across various scales and genres. From large AAA RPG titles to small narrative indie games, the futuristic dystopia depicted in the setting can create the perfect canvas for storytelling in video games.

Death Noodle Delivery, developed by Stupide Pixel and Tiny Pixel, and published by Troglobytes Games, is an arcade-inspired game with simple yet challenging gameplay, set in a dark and unsettlingly realistic cyberpunk universe. Death Noodle Delivery was a short but memorable experience with unexpected twists in the end.

Death Noodle Delivery cellphone showing the picture of the character's boss.
Mr. Chen runs the noodle place that we are hired at. I’m sure he’s a lovely boss who cares about our well-being!

Finishing Death Noodle Delivery took me just over two hours, and while there were narrative incentives for replaying the game, I felt like I got the most I could from the gameplay experience. In the current landscape of video games where the most common practice for some publishers is to stretch the playtime as long as possible, a short and meaningful experience is rare and valuable.

Death Noodle Delivery‘s gameplay is inspired by the classic arcade game, Paperboy. We play as a deliveryman traversing the dangerous streets of a cyberpunk world on a hoverboard, we have to avoid enemies and environmental dangers while delivering noodles to waiting customers.

Death Noodle Delivery surfing through a highway.
After each shift, we have to take the highway back home while dodging speeding cars and vengeful pizza delivery trucks.

The controls are simple, and while the game supports keyboard controls, using a controller made it feel much better. But the user experience was not flawless. The direction we travel is diagonal to the screen, yet we need to push directly up on the analog stick to move forward. This made orientation in some of the more challenging parts of Death Noodle Delivery feel unintuitive and unnecessarily complicated. After each level, we go back to our apartment to rest and talk with our neighbors. Navigating this part of the game feels a bit too slow, which fits the narrative and theme that the developers were going for, but it’s an uneasy contrast to the fast-paced flow of the rest of the game.

Another thing lacking from the gameplay experience was clear input feedback. Specifically, auditory input feedback was either missing or so subtle that would get lost in Death Noodle Delivery‘s soundtrack. For fast-paced action gameplay, input feedback is crucial to smooth and engaging interactions within the game.

Death Noodle Delivery talking to an NPC
Talking to Moana, our neighbor, while some strange inceptions of reality are going on.

The visual design of Death Noodle Delivery is everything you expect from a cyberpunk game. Flashy neon lights, jarringly colorful imagery, glitched and pixelated visual effects, and cybernetic-infused character designs, create a beautiful yet disturbing visual experience that enhances the game’s theme and narrative. There is also AI-generated art used as reference images in the game’s development, but artists created the final product and I couldn’t tell AI was used until I read it on the game’s Steam page.

The story of Death Noodle Delivery is its best part. Among other cyberpunk stories told in other games and media, this was the most realistic and close to our own future. A dystopian city enhanced by technology, yet ravaged by war, violence, and greed. Humanity has lost its meaning and value, and we are only parts of the larger systems and businesses that control the world.

Death Noodle Delivery apartments
We can explore the building and talk with a cast of unique characters between each level.

During the main levels, we explore parts of the city and even have a feud with a pizza delivery gang that becomes our rival and tries to kill us. When we get back home we can learn more about the society by talking to our neighbors. This is where the story takes a darker turn and deals with sensitive subjects such as depression and suicide.

A disturbing and funny subplot during the few days the story takes place is that the protagonist’s toilet is broken, yet in this technologically superior universe, a basic need such as using the bathroom becomes a real and lasting struggle. There are virtual toilets in the cybernet that don’t actually help us, but finding a real bathroom is impossible.

Death Noodle Delivery Cybernet advertisement for a toilet
A sad joke about the state of modern gaming where the toilet is sold as a separate DLC.

Death Noodle Delivery creates a dark yet believable cyberpunk world and story, enriched with a short but challenging gameplay loop. The beautiful art style and soundtrack help make the few hours that we spend in the game more immersive, and although the game is not perfect, it offers a fun and thought-provoking experience.

Nima played Death Noodle Delivery on PC with a review code.

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