Death is steadily declining in the world of Death’s Door. As a crow working in the Hall of Doors, your sole job is to reap souls. Unfortunately, with the decrease in deaths, your job has become somewhat stale.
So when you get assigned a soul that ends up being stolen by a thief, your life of mundaneness takes a turn for the interesting. Developed by Acid Nerve, the creators behind Titan Souls, Death’s Door is a beautiful and dark action-adventure fantasy that provides a riveting world and narrative with an addicting combat experience.
There’s a lot to unpack with Death’s Door, but I would be remiss not to first mention one of its most remarkable features, and that’s the soundtrack. Of course, my listening experience was limited with the scope of the demo, but each of the areas I had access to all had an enchanting tune as the backdrop to the tough journey forward. It’s so compelling that I’ve stayed still in corners and grinned widely, hearing the captivating and mystical melodies. There’s a dark but alluring atmosphere to Death’s Door, and the music captures that to a tee.
The consistency with the atmosphere extends over to the other aspects of the game, particularly the art style and narrative. For the design element, there are a lot of details despite presenting itself as minimalist. The shading and coloring may be simple, but the set pieces to the environment are plentiful and varied. I’d analogize the game’s design to a work of origami, simple and elegant at first glance but carefully crafted upon closer inspection.
The best designs are the bosses for the different levels. They all feel grand and important, from the elaborate costumes to the ingenious introduction of their characters. I appreciate how the more prominent story bosses have subtle but impactful details to their presentations.
Rather than throwing them straight at you, you get to understand their backstory as to why they’re one of the major enemies disrupting the world of death. It’s refreshing to have them be woven into the narrative in such a seamless manner.
At first glance, Death’s Door may not look like it has much of a story to present to the audience. With the isometric view and difficult yet engaging combat, I thought it would be a roguelike title focusing on the gameplay more than the narrative. However, Acid Nerve decided to throw in a compelling fantasy story and make it the crux of your experience. Though combat is still your primary gameplay aspect, you get to witness a charming yet ominous world. The effects of a world without death can really change people and their behaviors, and this concept is what keeps you going forward.
The gameplay consists of combat and exploration. As you traverse through the somewhat maze-like levels, you fight various enemies with your sword and projectiles, ranging from arrows to magical fireballs. The game features Souls-like elements to the combat, but it is more approachable than others of the genre. You have to dodge roll and watch for patterns, but everything becomes significantly easier to handle once you get the hang of it. Death only adds to the fun of learning your opponent’s next move and understanding when to counter. As you defeat each enemy, you collect souls that you can use to upgrade your combat skills.
Outside of combat, exploration plays a constructive role in your favor. Each level has secrets or hidden areas where you can find souls, items, or other upgrades. The game doesn’t have you solely fixated on combat. Instead, it keeps you wandering around looking at the bewitching atmosphere and keeping you engaged with the environment.
Death’s Door did a wonderful job of engrossing me into the dark and mysterious world it presents. I had a lot of fun struggling with the enemies, dying, and overcoming the fights. My ears and eyes were locked onto the designs and aesthetics of the game. My mind was constantly engaged with the strong characters, the yearning to explore, and the remarkable quality of the dark narrative. Death’s Door is a title that should be on everyone’s radar.
Death’s Door will be released on July 20th for PC, Xbox One, and the Xbox Series systems. It is currently available to pre-purchase now for a 15% discount.
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