If Devolver Digital is the king of the independent video game, then Death’s Door is the latest jewel in its already glittering crown – and what a big, beautiful, glittering head piece it is!
In fact, Death’s Door could be the sleeper hit of the year that I knew nothing about, but I’m glad I know about it now.
The preview build of Acid Nerve’s game was tantalisingly short at a couple of hours but that was more than enough to pique my interest in what could be one of the indie hits of the year. It’s got a dark comedic style and a feel about it that just makes it stand out amongst the dearth of remasters and remakes seemingly crowding the games industry at the moment.
Stone the Crows
In Death’s Door, you control a soul collecting crow, whose daily grind is collecting souls of the dead which are exchanged at the hub world – a drab, boring office environment with pigeon holes and desks – for attack upgrades. However, when one of the souls you’ve been assigned to reap after defeating the first boss is stolen by a unknown thief, you’re transported into a world where death has no meaning and you have to get it back, come hell or high water.
Right from the get-go isometric Death’s Door has an arresting visual style, an almost hand-drawn look to it, and is very Tim Burton-esque in its character design with shambling zombies wearing their grotesque faces like a a turtle shell on their back (then roll towards you) or cone-headed humanoids who develop cracks across their body before you behead them.
There’s also a likeable gravedigger with a tombstone tied to his head and a character called Pothead who has, well, a pot on his head. Locations are varied, with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore for collectibles.
Die another day
Combat is easy to come to grips with here – our hero has a slash and a charged attack as well as a bow and can dodge roll (there’s no parry). Which comes in mighty handy during periods when portals open up around you and enemies of all sorts come out for you. When you die – and you will die with a delightful DEATH screen appearing – you respawn back at the Death Door you entered the realm through, and unlike rogue-likes where you loose your progress and collectibles, here you don’t.
Bosses, of course, have patterns that you’ll need to memorise to finally defeat them and the boss battle combat will keep you on your toes but even when I died several times on the first boss until I figured out the pattern, it didn’t frustrate me, it just drew me into continue and explore more.
I can’t wait to play more the full version of Death’s Door and luckily, it’s out on July 20 this year on Windows PC and Xbox Series X/S – so only a 10 days or so to go!