Dumb Ways to Die was an Australian public service announcement created by Metro Trains in Melbourne in 2012. It was hilarious, irreverent, and catchy and went completely viral. The campaign was devised by advertising agency McCann Melbourne, and according to the agency generated about $50 million worth of global media value. Metro Trains said that the campaign contributed to a 30% reduction in “near-miss” accidents. There was criticism of course, in that the video was trivialising accidents, but it is hard to deny that the song was catchy, the characters were cute, and the stories were funny, if a bit macabre.
So of course, Metro released a “Dumb Ways to Die” game as an app for iOS in May 2013 and then one for Android in 2013. The app was popular enough (with over 50,000,000 installs on Android alone) that a second version was released in 2014 called, unsurprisingly, “Dumb Ways to Die 2”. The sequel has over 10,000,000 downloads on the Google Play Store and has spawned a whole collection of slightly gruesome plushies, and YouTube parodies.
In the sequel, there is a map with several destinations on it with a particular theme like Adrenaland or Camp Catastrophe.
You travel to each destination by train to complete a series of 8 challenges without dying in increasingly dumb ways, like trying to catch javelins or having a marshmallow explode in your face. Before arriving at the destination, you have to complete a small challenge that focuses on train safety.
If you survive the eight challenges you can get bonus points at the end. You get three chances or lives to complete the challenge. If one of the characters die, you lose one life. There are in total, 28 different mini-games to play.
The game is not very hard really, but it ramps up in speed so you have to tap the screen faster or spin your fingers around or tilt the screen to complete the challenges. Don’t expect to breeze right through it all. Expect to die. A lot.
You could also challenge your friends by connecting to your Facebook account.
There is a shop that opens up in your browser where you can buy your favourite mauled, shot, or bisected character. There is also a little button on the map where you can pledge to be safe around trains.
One fun thing they have is the leaderboards. You can pledge yourself to one of the characters and every time you play, your points get tallied up with others who have pledged themselves to that character. Right now Botch has a comfortable lead.
The game overall is fun and quirky, pretty much like its previous version and like the video. There are in-game ads which are a pain. They caused the app to freeze and I had to restart the app to play again. Download this app if you want some quick, dark, funny action, but don’t expect to get hooked to it. Also, make sure you check the rating (7+) before you give it to a kid, because it really does have a lot of cartoon violence. I don’t know how much the app really makes you think about train safety. There are several reminders, but it could get buried in all the violence. It is fun however, and still a brilliant campaign.