As much as I don’t like reviewing new games and comparing them to older titles, I couldn’t help but do so as I was playing Death’s Door. But in this case, I can’t help it. The vibe I got while playing Death’s Door brought me back to those wonderful memories I have while playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (which is one of my favorite games of all time). Much like A Link to the Past, Death’s Door has a great story, challenging combat, puzzles, and is a blast to replay. Plus, you’re a sword-wielding bird. What more could you want?
Death’s Door hooks you with a fantastic premise. Your life as a soul-reaping crow is flipped upside down when a routine job is interrupted by a mysterious figure who steals a soul you are after. Your quest to retrieve the stolen soul leads you to unlock a greater mystery involving beings that have overstayed their welcome in the realm of the living and lead you to the question “what is beyond death’s door?” The story is dark, yet intriguing. The mystery is written really well and kept me engaged.
As you work to unravel the mystery, you take on a variety of enemies both large and small. Death’s Door plays like a dungeon crawler where you have smaller enemies, mid-size bosses, and major bosses that serve as a final boss for an area. The big bosses are beings that have managed to cheat death for a long time, so you can imagine the size of their souls if you bring them down. Enemies will come at you with close and ranged attacks as well as magic attacks. Taking on an enemy one on one is fairly easy, but some areas will work like a mini horde mode where you will take on waves of enemies. One of the best aspects of Death’s Door is the challenge in these fights. Yes, the boss fights are appropriately hard, but even the smaller enemies require patience and a strategy other than hack and slash.
I really liked how the mechanics reward you with taking on and fighting every enemy. There will be moments when you may want to run past a group of enemies. Or, in my case, I would be tempted to run past enemies that respawn if you die. But every enemy will yield a soul that you collect. These souls can be used to upgrade your crow so your attacks become stronger, your speed improves, and your defensive rolls improve. Basically, it is imperative to explore and defeat every enemy you can find so you collect enough souls to upgrade your character.
Another reason to explore is the variety of items you can find along the way. Different weapons will give you advantages and disadvantages. For example, switching to daggers will increase your attack speed, but the damage will be less than your sword. But I love that there are options that fit your attack style. And again, items like these drive the player to explore as much as they can so they can find every possible thing. Eventually, you’ll also have access to spells that will make your life a whole lot easier. Even with all of these items, spells, and weapons, Death’s Door is still super challenging so I never felt like these items were overkill. I needed all the help I could get.
I’m having a real hard time finding negatives to say about Death’s Door. I guess I should mention that the puzzles felt a little easy to me. There are plenty of visual cues to show where you need to go, or what you need to destroy in order to move on. But in a way, this isn’t really a negative because of how challenging the combat is. There were times where there was a crazy boss battle and I felt absolutely drained, so I appreciated the cues to show me exactly where I needed to go and how to get through a certain puzzle. Also, the health refill system is a bit hard to get used to. You have life seeds that you need to use wisely while playing. After all, there are only a specific amount of pots that you can plant them and they are not plentiful.
The art design is so good in Death’s Door. The top-down design works incredibly well for this type of action game. And the color palette is perfect. The use of darker colors works well in this macabre realm. Plus, I love the visual cues when attacking enemies and bosses. As you deal more damage, the enemies will show red crack which gives a good indication as to how much more damage need to be dealt to finish the enemy off. It’s a really cool way to show their energy level without actually having a bar. The music feels subtle and dark and fits perfectly with the game.
Death’s Door is a definitive Game of the Year candidate. The story is engrossing, the action is tense and fun, and the game is filled with memorable bosses and characters. I couldn’t stop smiling while playing, even at times when I kept dying to challenging enemies. The game can be a bit short if you play straight through, but you will be rewarded if you take the time to explore. Death’s Door is a must-buy, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Note: GameOctane received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for review is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Some easy puzzles