Death’s Door is one of those games that you wouldn’t expect to be as good as it is. I ended up playing it because I caught a glimpse of it going down the YouTube rabbit hole. I watched the trailer and I was instantly taken aback by the art style, character and stage design.
As soon as it came out, I was all over it and I became so entrenched in it that I almost finished it in a day. It’s an incredibly rewarding game if you follow through and I personally think it’s a sleeper hit and a GOTY candidate as it stands now this year. You might not agree and that’s ok. but let me explain, please.
WHAT IS DEATH’S DOOR ABOUT?
You start the game off as a crow. You don’t really have a name as much as you have a title/task that by default becomes your name. Reaper is how you’re referred and once you go through the game you’ll understand why.
Your job is to collect and retrieve souls that are not yet at rest as a general job function, but in the case of Death’s Door there are three “BIG” souls in particular that you have to bring to rest that you’re tasked with retrieving. With that you’re lead on quest that is more than what it seems as you begin realize that collecting these souls might be part of a big plot by the powers that be that you don’t fully understand. When your first soul is stolen from you by an elder crow who tries to explain why and makes no sense at first. This is the point where Death’s Door begins.
LOOK, FEEL, GAMEPLAY, WEAPONS & BOSS BATTLES
As soon as you start up Death’s Door you can’t help but be blown away by the art/animation style of this game. The minimal use of color that is oddly never dull, the character and level design, the story and smooth movement of Crow are things that you’ll know are going to make this game a great experience.
Death’s Door is a dungeon crawler exploration game. The way Death’s Door plays out is very similar to Zelda games which are what the comparisons have been thus far. I get it. Death’s Door does have Zelda like elements but where it’s different is that there’s no damsel in distress that needs saving. There’s really no save the world and universe or we’re all doomed kind of theme, especially since technically we’re in the underworld and already dead. I look at Death’s Door as kind of an homage, a loving shout out from some developers inspired by a great series.
Acid Nerve’s Mark Foster and David Fenn are the creators of this game and it’s published by Devolver Digital. They created this game with the intent to entertain and challenge. The game itself is not overly difficult but challenges you with puzzles and a dungeon design that really pushes you to explore every inch of it to succeed in conquering that dungeon. Death’s Door also makes you sure that you feel as if you have to go back to earlier areas in the game to explore and collect loot and try to find the secret things scattered throughout the underworld thus adding to the replay value. If you’re a completionist then Death’s Door gives you enough loot to go after and you might wanna go get some of it. Just make sure you if you’re going to be exploring, keep your health up because it’s hard to come by.
Collecting your healing seeds are of the utmost importance throughout the game as there is no way to replenish your health other than to plant these seeds in strategically placed pots scattered throughout the underworld and dungeons. You must plan out when to use your healing plant since once you use one you can’t again unless you die or you have another plant that you can survive long enough to get to. Death’s Door is a game that punishes you for being impulsive but in a good way.
There also isn’t a plethora of weapons that you need to have to be useful in this game. So weapon management is easy. In total there are 5 weapons including your reaper sword. You also get bombs and a hookshot. That’s pretty much it. You really have to take a little time and learn the timing on your sword strikes and dodges.
Boss Battles in Death’s Door you’ll find are a lot of fun. Once again, Death’s Door does such a good job of making the fighting elements of the game not too difficult but makes sure you pay if you get overzealous. Boss Battles emphasize this best. At first glance the boss battles would seem easy because the bosses fight patterns are repetitive but again, get too overzealous and you’ll forget that you only have 4 slots in your energy bar and you’ll die quickly. Death’s Door makes you pay by having to start the dungeons from the beginning to get back to the boss. Don’t let the easy mechanics fool you.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON DEATH’S DOOR
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Death’s Door is a GOTY candidate. It’s a sleeper hit. Things may change as the year plays out but I have my reasons why it should be considered. For starters, it’s well designed. It plays well. Great story. It’s challenging but not overly difficult. Most important, it’s fun. It’s hard to nail down all of these things without compromising an important element of a game. It’s a game you can play and beat fairly quickly but you won’t feel cheated. There are no tradeoffs that I found within this game.
Dungeon crawler lovers will appreciate and probably already do love what this game is. Any game that reminds us of the best of what Zelda games are can’t possibly be a bad thing. Although, I hate to make comparisons like this because Death’s Door is its own game.
If you haven’t played Death’s Door. You probably should. It’s inexpensive at just $20 and you can’t beat that for a game that satisfies a number of checkpoints when you’re describing a great game. I strongly recommend that anyone who is a gamer play this game and I look forward to sequel and hopefully a bigger one.