Death’s Door is an action-RPG with a twist. The game will be released on the Switch and Xbox One this year, and was developed by Lab Zero Games, developers of Skullgirls.
Death’s Door is a review of the game Dark Souls. The reviewer, who is also a Zelda fan, compares it to the classic NES title A Link To The Past.
Death’s Door is something to be proud of (pic: Devolver Digital)
This new indie action adventure may wear its influences on its sleeves, but it’s already one of 2021’s hidden treasures.
Because Game Pass is still a novel concept, at least in terms of becoming the Xbox’s killer app, it’s uncertain how long it will have an impact on the games industry. Is it really sustainable, or is it just something Microsoft is prepared to lose money on in the short term in order to get a competitive edge against Sony? Does it inspire players to play more and varied games, or does it simply result in their picking up and discarding them in a matter of minutes, as if they were watching TV?
One intriguing figure published this month claims that Game Pass members play 40 percent more games and spend 50 percent more money on them than non-subscribers. That latter point is crucial since one apparent worry is that consumers would get used to not paying for games unless they are part of a subscription, which would be especially detrimental to independent releases given their lack of marketing budget. People would lose out on games like Death’s Door as a result, which would be a terrible tragedy.
We nearly didn’t have time to play the game because of the industry’s notoriously inept scheduling, which meant it came out at a particularly busy time of year when other, higher-profile games took precedence. With its ordinary visuals and concept, Death’s Door is an easy game to miss, but it’s really one of the finest action adventures of the year.
Despite having many good aspects, Death’s Door lacks uniqueness. It’s not developer Acid Nerve’s strong suit, since their last game, Titan Souls, was a direct combination of Dark Souls, Zelda: A Link To The Past, and Shadow Of The Colossus. Death’s Door (largely) abandons Shadow Of The Colossus’ obsession, but generally shares the same influences, although in a much more engaging manner.
Death’s Door portrays you as a soul reaper, a job that your cynical coworkers dismiss as a minor inconvenience. This doesn’t seem like an uncommon setup for a video game, except that you and your friends are crows, and although you can use weapons (and presumably typewriters), you still look and move like a real crow, albeit without the ability to fly. The story begins very immediately, when a soul is taken from you and you get involved in a plan to open what is referred to as Death’s Door.
Death’s Door, despite its odd aspects, has a refreshing simplicity and directness to it. Within a few minutes, you’ve mastered the art of swinging a sword as well as the somewhat more difficult task of nocking an arrow and utilizing your magical bow, which has a gratifying physicality to it.
New weapons and abilities are acquired along the way, which can be used to gain access to previously inaccessible areas in true Metroidvania style, but the combat never becomes overly complicated and is always tightly focused on crowd control and learning enemy patterns – as you’ll be accosted by waves of enemies whose defeat powers your magic gauge.
Death’s Door isn’t simple, but neither is Dark Souls. You’ll almost definitely die at the first boss, and almost certainly at the first real one after that, but once you start gaining health (via some very Zelda-like methods) and getting a sense for the speed of battle, it’ll all be OK. While there is no stamina meter, more powerful techniques take quite a wind-up, and selecting the perfect time to strike is crucial, as it is in all of From’s games.
Death’s Door is a deceptively beautiful title (pic: Devolver Digital)
When you explain Death’s Door, it seems utterly boring, and it’s not much more interesting when you look at videos or pictures, despite some appealingly diverse backgrounds. But it’s a lot of fun to play. The tale takes around six to eight hours to finish, which feels like the ideal length, with no padding, prevarication, or pretense.
Throwing waves of opponents at you might seem lazy and uninteresting in any other game, but the fighting is so fun, and the enemy’ tactics are diverse enough, that the task of dealing with them all in unexpected combinations never fades. The boss fights, on the other hand, are consistently great and unique in terms of both graphics and powers.
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The graphics are clearly low-tech, but with the camera zoomed out as much as it is, this is seldom noticeable, since the aesthetics match the game’s pleasant simplicity. Despite some creative set pieces and novel concepts like growing your own healing restoratives in key places (or rather pots) across the landscape, Death’s Door lacks originality. The only time it seems excessively derivative is in some of the items, such as the explosives and hookshot, which feel a little too Zelda-like.
Death’s Door is nearly flawlessly constructed, with a delicate sense of comedy and a charming appeal. It may not be doing anything especially novel, but few games are as effective at hitting their objectives as this one. Originality is nothing if the execution is poor, but the opposite is not true, and Death’s Door is a joy to play from start to finish.
Summary of Death’s Door
In a nutshell, it’s a fun combination of Dark Souls and Zelda that offers few truly fresh concepts but yet manages to enthrall with its own distinct charm.
Pros: A lot of entertaining enemies and a lot of interesting fighting. Interesting upgrades and goods, as well as visual design that makes the most of the low-tech graphics.
Cons: There aren’t many unique concepts. One Dark Souls-ism the game might have done without is the absence of a map.
8 out of 10
Xbox Series X/S (reviewed), Xbox One, and PC are the formats available. The cost is £16.74 Devolver Digital is the publisher. Acid Nerve is the creator of this game. Date of Release: July 20, 2021 Age Rating: 12
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