Death’s Door Review: Worth Crowing About

The game Death’s Door is a new release from indie developer Key. After playing it myself, I have to admit that the game does have some interesting elements. The premise of the game is simple: you’re trapped in your own home in an alternate reality where your house is full of evil creatures. With the help of your pet dog (who is able to talk), you must find a way to stop the creatures from killing you.

The eagle has landed. And, it was worth the wait. The first true release in a decade from legendary Swedish Death Metal act ENTOMBED, Death’s Door debuts with an earth-shattering 10-track masterpiece that’s as unapologetic as it is masterful.

Devolver Digital has established a reputation for itself in recent years by releasing some of the most unique, smart, and entertaining independent games available. Their penchant for the odd, weird, and darkly funny has served them well, and all of those characteristics are on full show in Acid Nerve’s Death’s Door.

A wonderful combination of stifling workplace humor and beautiful flights of imagination to settings that would seem right at home in a Tim Burton production, this isometric action/adventure in the realm of the dead with a crow as its protagonist.

Review of Death’s Door: Worth Crowding For

It’s a pity Death’s Door is only available on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S right now. It’s the sort of independent treasure that would have shone brightly during Sony’s golden PS3 period, when they were still making quirky, creative indie and experimental-minded games.

Death’s Door brilliantly combines the tone and character design of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Beetlejuice with the gameplay structure of the Twinsen’s Odyssey/Little Big Adventures games from the heyday of PC gaming in the 1990s (which, if you’re unaware, is a huge praise).

Players assume the position of a soul-reaping crow, sent out by the offices of the great beyond to, well, harvest souls and let the deceased to go on to their next destination. This profession, although appropriately magical, turns out to be a bureaucratic nightmare in itself.

The game begins on the drab gray grounds of the crow’s office. As other agents sweat away at their desks, weird people lurk on the periphery, and virtually no one is helpful in the least, there’s a stiff, depressed nerve exposed. In a nutshell, it’s just like working for the government!

Your immediate objective is to catch a big and strong soul that has to be processed. This entails traveling to various places in the physical realm and coping with a variety of challenges, people, riddles, and potentially fatal scenarios. The difference between the workplace and the rest of the universe is obvious right away.

Even though most of it tries to take your life, there is color and vitality out there. Simple chores quickly become complex, and our sturdy worker bird is soon out on a big and terrifying journey.

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The 3D landscapes’ slanted above camera perspective allows you to appreciate the astonishingly complex, but relatively basic architectural and character designs. Although the visual approach isn’t exactly claymation-like, it nevertheless exudes panache. Moving from dark, gloomy sections to thrilling battle music with relaxing exploration songs in between, the soundtrack fits extremely well with the game’s graphics, action, and ideas.

As a crow, you’ll have access to a variety of survival gear. On starters, this reaper is well-equipped for their trip, starting with a sword and bow. New weapons and spells are found as the quest progresses, including quick dual daggers, a heavy smashing hammer, and, strangely, an umbrella.

Other distance assaults, such as fireballs, may be substituted for the bow, and utilizing the appropriate weapon for the task is crucial while completing puzzles.

The crow can roll to avoid being hit, but it can’t leap or fly, which seems strange considering its birdlike appearance. Switches to press, keys to locate, moving platforms to ride, tight ledges to traverse, and other platforming and adventure game staples are all there.

Combat is also heavily emphasized. To open gates, you’ll often have to fight a swarm of spawning opponents, and these sequences may be very difficult.

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The game will bombard you with cloddish, lunging zombie-like fodder, while range-based opponents shoot at you from beyond them. Some opponents have the ability to teleport, while others are highly armored tank-like creatures that can quickly smash your meager hit points.

If you’re fast enough, enemies that unleash explosive assaults may be utilized against other villains, and the diversity of enemy kinds means you’ll constantly be changing up your attack tactics.

The game’s sparse use of waypoints is one source of annoyance. Magical doors will emerge at a few locations across each globe, allowing you to return to the office and purchase ability improvements (using collected souls as currency). If you die, the game reverts to the last door you discovered, and there are several sections (particularly when approaching each of the three major end bosses) where death causes a lot of retracing.

Apart from that, boss battles are unique and amusing, fighting is exciting and frenetic, and general exploration is made worthwhile by the abundance of riches to be found.

The ingeniously crafted narrative is, nevertheless, one of the finest elements of Death’s Door. The more you go into this universe, the more layers you’ll discover – and things are much more complicated than most action games’ binary morality.

The tale of how the crow’s own organization helped the major bosses flourish and accumulate power and immortality is also interesting, as is the account of how the crow’s own organization helped the main bosses prosper and amass power and immortality. The narrative in the game, like the graphics, manages to swing between the profoundly sad and the hilariously ridiculous in a controlled, deliberate manner.

Review of Death’s Door — The Bottom Line

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Pros

  • Beautiful graphics and a captivating music make a fascinating world to discover.
  • Combat is both entertaining and difficult.
  • Puzzles and discovery are both entertaining.
  • Characters and plot are well-written and thought-provoking.

Cons

  • Waypoints are sometimes sparse, resulting in tedious backtracking.
  • Combat rooms may be intimidating at times.

Death’s Door is a horrific trip definitely worth doing, requiring about 8-10 hours to complete. The fighting is straightforward but effective, the setting is intriguing, and the characters are unforgettable. 

[Note: The copy of Death’s Door used for this review was supplied by Devolver Digital.]

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