ReviewsReview: Death's Door

Review: Death’s Door

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As one door shuts, another one opens is a favourite saying from the optimist in your life. It means no matter what happens and no matter how bad things seem, there is always the chance to move forward. What would you do if this wasn’t the case? If you failed at your last opportunity and this prevented you from moving forward! This is the concept behind Death’s Door, a game about sombre scenes and melancholy situations.

Developed by Acid Nerve and published by Devolver Digital, this is a puzzle adventure title with a deathly twist. Using Zelda-like exploration and maze-like dungeons, you’ll lose yourself in this expansive world. You control a fledgling crow who epitomises the symbol of death. He wanders around a grey land devoid of human life, collecting souls to power the doors between realms.

Death’s door!

Death’s Door is a touching tale of failure and redemption.

You work for the Reaping Commission and your only task is to collect the souls of your vanquished foes. If you haven’t been assigned a job, you are immortal. However, the moment you walk through a door to complete a task, the ticking clock of life starts moving. The only way to stop it is to collect the giant soul that controls that realm. If you fail, or the soul escapes, your door remains open and death ebbs ever closer. 

Sadly, this predicament forms the backbone of Death’s Door. While completing a simple job, a giant and aged crow steals your prized possession. You are now trapped in limbo and transported to a strange world that contains the oppressive titular door. This enormous locked barrier requires the fledgling crow to undertake three challenging adventures. You’ll adore the in-depth levels and constant back and forth as new abilities unlock new areas. Like Zelda, you’re forced to remember inaccessible locations to return to them when the time is right.

I loved the unveiling of these secret areas and though it had the potential to make the game tiresome, it rarely did. Using your newfound abilities made the gameplay refreshing and introducing mini-bosses adds a layer of complexity to the combat mechanics.

A complex story told with simple but effective mechanics.

The core concept will resonate with most gamers because of its simplicity. The wonderfully dark and charming story muddies the waters, but the murkiness is worth it for the fantastic experience. The game simply asks you to use arrows, magic and swords in each combat encounter. As you progress, they become gradually more challenging and tactical nuance is required to better your foes. Your limited health will be put to the test and a small supply of plants can stop you from dying. This was ingenious, as this extra layer made you gamble on the moment to use your seeds or to power on, regardless.

On top of the fighting were the puzzles that relied on switches, fire, and explosions. Though there was little offered that can’t be found in other titles, the blend of abilities and the use of environmental obstacles was fantastic. During the main chapters, you’ll unlock fire, bombs, and a hook. These tools are key to solving each problem and uncovering the aforementioned secret locations. You’ll enjoy unlocking each skill and discovering how much it expands the already vast world.

Don’t upset the giant frog.

Big bosses and souls well spent.

The Reaping Commission is desperate to have the souls to power their doors. But, they are generous to the crows that work hard collecting them. You’ll upgrade four stats that help to balance the monsters increased strengths in the latter stages. The fledgling quickly transforms into a super bird who is strong, nimble and full of vitality.

Magic and health boosts are also hidden around the grey oppressive world. These shrines contain pieces that must be collected to receive a much-needed boost. You’ll see the hidden locations positioned behind “impossible” to find paths. Only when you have all the abilities unlocked will you be able to gain access to them all. Until this moment you’ll make a mental note, vowing to return at a later date.

As well as increasing your stats to defeat the normal monsters, you’ll need to be as strong as possible to overcome each enormous boss. These pains in the arse beasts test your patience and gaming ability. You’re likely to face your untimely demise and this will feel unfair. Yet, you’ll keep coming back until you learn the best way to take them down for good. Destroying all three will unlock Death’s door, and from here you’ll continue to put your nightmare to bed.

Death’s Door makes the most of every environment.

Some games look fantastic, have awesome stories, and have interesting characters. Yet, they fail to make the most of their incredible environments. Fortunately, Death’s Door utilises its 3D space perfectly. You quickly adjust to life in this bizarre world, scanning the horizon for hidden paths on all plains. You’ll soak up the charming and dark imagery as the striking lines and grey palette enhance the melancholy tale.

The graphics are supported fantastically by the eerie piano music. The haunting soundtrack adds to the sense of despair, leaving you in little doubt that death is just around the corner. With excellent but predictable sound effects, you’ll love the constant blanket of noise. 

The developers have complimented their wonderful story and environments with excellent imagery and audio. This is a fantastic example of an indie title finished to a high standard.

Find the horn and bring music back to the village.

Drip-fed skills and a simple UI.

Death’s Door does a great job of ensuring every aspect is easy to understand. A well laid out UI helps you quickly identify the required skill, and a basic approach to combat and using items make any situation simple to manage. Flitting between abilities is smooth and the only concern is when you run out of magic or ammo. Even this issue is simply resolved with a swing of your sword, so the developers have made this as user friendly as possible.

There are plenty of reasons to keep returning with shiny things to collect and ample hidden locations to find. Once you defeat the final boss, you’ll come back for more as you slowly tick off the mental list of secret places. You’ll invest around fifteen hours to complete it and you’ll thoroughly explore every corner of this odd world. Achievement hunters will need a keen eye for detail and a logical mind. Getting the 100% status is challenging and won’t be for every player.

Death’s Door is spectacular from start to finish.

Death’s Door is captivating from start to finish. This is a high-end indie title with its fantastic graphics, excellent and melancholy audio, and brilliant yet weird storyline. A mix of complex and straightforward mechanics will test veteran and new gamers to the genre. I adored it and recommend you to buy it here! Death is ebbing closer and your only escape is through Death’s door! 

SUMMARY

Death's Door is a dark and melancholy RPG adventure title. Collecting souls is the aim, staying young is the game. Complete your job quickly and stop the hands of time from ticking.

+ Crisp and stylish graphics.
+ Haunting audio.
+ A well-designed UI.
+ Plenty of replay value.
+ An unusual quirky story.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC.)
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: [email protected]

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