Death’s Door Review – A Game I Wish I Could Forget & Play Again
I knew from the moment I watched the trailer for Death’s Door that this was going to be a game that I would enjoy. It instantly reminded me of some of my favourite indie titles; Team Cherry’s Hollow Knight, Heart Machine’s Hyper Light Drifter and Acid Nerve’s previous classic, Titan Souls. And I can easily say that Acid Nerve knocked it right out of the park and into my top pick for Game of The Year.
Death’s Door finds you taking control of a young crow who works for the Reaping Commission, a mysterious bureaucracy that is in charge of reaping the souls of the living. While on an assignment, a soul you’re after is stolen and now you must venture out into a deathless land and hunt creatures that have lived far beyond their expiration date.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Death’s Door is its personality. While the world the game is set in is bleak and dark, its charm cuts right through and shines brightly. From the bored office crows, delightful side characters and the three main antagonists, each character stands out uniquely from the others. My personal favourite is Jefferson, who is definitely not a squid controlling a dead man’s body. The music in Death’s Door is fantastic, each area has its own gorgeous piece that plays throughout, it’s relaxing and calming, perfect for exploring and secret hunting. Of course the music picks up pace when you finally enter a boss arena. You know it’s ass kicking time. The music seems to fit each scene like a perfect jigsaw piece.
How about that gameplay?
Death’s Door is a top-down, hack’n’slash that draws clear inspiration from Dark Souls and Titan Souls but adds its own twists to the genre to make it stand out by itself. In typical Dark Souls fashion, Death’s Door follows the “if you die, all the enemies respawn” mechanic however, instead of using the “bonfire” system (A check point that restores your health, but re-spawns all the enemies) it uses the “flower” system.
In each area you explore, you’re likely to come across some seeds on the ground that you can pick up. You can then plant these seeds into special plant pots that are scattered throughout each area, a glowing flower will then bloom which you can then use as a one-time full heal. At the start of the game an interesting dilemma arises, do you use one of your limited seeds now and potentially make the back end of your journey more difficult? Or visa-versa?
As far as the roster of enemies goes, I will admit, it does feel small thinking back on it. Nonetheless, the game does a good job of mixing up the enemies, environmental hazards and arena shapes so that each combat encounter doesn’t feel too samey.
For the actual combat itself, there are five different weapons to choose from, (although I only managed to find an additional two weapons on top of the starting sword), each with the standard RPG fighting style. “Average at everything” sword, “quick attacks, short range” daggers and of course, “???” umbrella. I found myself using the daggers for about 90% of my play-through until switching back to the sword at the very end. Each weapon comes with a charge up attack and a rolling attack, but I don’t remember ever needing to make use of those.
On top of your weapons, you’ll gain access to magic abilities, not only do these act as additional long range support abilities, they are also keys to unlocking new areas in the game (ala Metroidvania). And finally, in addition to all of the above, you get a dodge roll. A very important aspect to any Soul-like. I can safely tell you the dodge roll feels perfect. Nice and responsive. Combat overall feels really nice. There were only a very small handful of times where I felt the game ripped me off, but otherwise Death’s Door nails combat. Even in the small “Avarice” arenas where it’s more claustrophobic and cramped.
The story of Death’s Door is something special. It’s truly the icing on what is already a very delicious cake. Everything just comes together to just make you want to know more about this fascinating world and what is going on. While the main quest will only take about eight hours for any seasoned Souls veteran, there’s still plenty to find and explore after the end credits roll.
‘I wish I could forget you.’
It’s definitely been a while since I’ve last played a game where I can’t really find anything to complain about. Death’s Door just nails every single aspect. Even though the game is under 10 hours, it’s just the right length. In that time Death’s Door shows and tells you everything it needs to. I wish I could forget Death’s Door and everything I know about the game and experience it all over again. It honestly does feel that our time together was bittersweet, it was only last month that I just heard about it and watched the trailer for the first time (at the E3 announcement), and now I’m extremely close to 100%-ing the game and being done with it. I’ll no doubt run through it a second time to get a couple of missed achievements but alas, I wish I could forget you…
If you have not worked it out by now, I absolutely love this game. I highly recommend it to anyone with an Xbox or PC.