Here’s the pitch, it’s been Death’s job to usher souls into the afterlife for a really long time, but Death has grown tired of this tedious work. So, he decides to start a company, Death Inc. Now, as CEO, he makes his minions do his work for him.
Unfortunately, the years of being CEO and the paperwork involved have made him soft, and his minions have gone rogue. They are going over their quota of souls and being terrible employees. It’s now Death’s job to wrangle these rogue employees and show them who the boss is.
Have a Nice Death is a beautifully hand-drawn, 2D roguelike. Your job as CEO is to explore the procedurally generated levels in search of the rogue employees who have been taking in too many souls. During its Early Access period, I was able to get a taste of the hack and slash with over 30 upgradable weapons and spells to take on hordes of undead minions and bosses.
Combat is exceptionally fluid and satisfying. Your main weapon is your cloak and scythe, which can be upgraded. It’s also possible to collect and swap spells that deal massage damage as you traverse each level. Lastly, you have your Fury Attack; this works with your scythe or any of your spells to unleash monstrous damage with a single attack.
Have a Nice Death follows the traditional 2D roguelike formula. Each stage has five levels you must traverse before confronting a final boss. Along the way, you explore procedurally generated rooms that you can choose the sequence of. Each level has a theme that will help you before you reach the boss. For example, some will grant you Spells; others will help you find Soulary, the currency needed to buy items at the store or even meet up with the HR Manager, TJ Oshea, to get new bonuses such as heath or attack buffs, but beware some of these come with a penalty that can affect other stats or the cost of upgrades.
You have a health bar that decreases with damage, but a secondary bar limits the max health you can recoup, making the game significantly more challenging if you don’t refill don’t pay attention. Health can be acquired by finding food items after defeating enemies or purchasing them at the shop. You also obtain Anima, these collectibles can be used at your discretion, but they will only refill your health up to that secondary bar, which requires Vitamins to increase.
The title of this game is true to its name; you will die a lot. In typical roguelike fashion, you have to clear all the levels in one run to beat the game. I have only played the first three levels, and I can confirm this is no easy feat. Memorizing enemy and boss patterns is imperative. Anima and Vitamins are in short supply, and if you’re not paying attention to your health, your secondary bar could be depleted, and even refilling your health won’t help.
Lucky for you, at the end of each run, you receive a grade based on enemies killed along with Soulary and Prismium’s earned. In return, you receive Golden Ingots, which allow you to purchase new spells and food upgrades. All of these will assist you in your next run.
Have a Nice Death is an adorable and brutally challenging game. The hand-drawn characters, backgrounds, and animation are downright delightful. The numerous weapons and skills make each run feel unique, and the difficulty of the game was addicting and rewarding. There are also several challenges that give you new spells and food.
My one gripe is that health and weapon spawns feel unbalanced. Some runs supply ample health and weapons while others feel lacking, making the run more difficult. The market for 2D side-scrolling roguelikes is unquestionably over-saturated but Have a Nice Death’s cute and unsettlingly dark charm sets it apart and draws you in, but for how long depends on your love for punishing roguelikes.
Have a Nice Death is currently in Steam Early Access.
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