Death’s Door opens the door to life after this – and to everyday life as a sword-wielding poultry.
Death never goes out of style, not least in the gaming world. 2020 gave us Hades and Spirit danger; 2021 we get Death’s Door, where we once again get to walk in the borderland between the beyond and the worlds of the living. Now it’s in the role of a soul – harvesting crow – and the soul that was to be retrieved is stolen right under its beak.
To get out of the predicament, the crow must go through the thief’s affairs and hack his way through a desolate, dangerous world in search of three mammoth replacement souls. Death’s Door is superficially similar to Heart Machine’s fantastic pixel adventure Hyper Light Drifter, and is like that characterized by Zeldagames. The world consists of three main areas that are unlocked in step with new abilities, but it is also packed with secrets to discover after the end of the story.
The game’s world is impressively large and winding, and is flooded with hidden details. Since there is a lot of gathering to deal with, the lack of maps rubs off. Often I stand there with three aisles to choose from and do not remember in which of them I saw the door that requires a key. Then just like the situation and explore it all again.
The crow is armed with a sword, bow and eventually magical abilities. Brutal waves of enemies alternate with areas where you have to activate different parts of the environment to move on. The degree of difficulty in Death’s Door is not as unforgiving, and the precision of the controls is not as good, but similar Hyper Light Drifter Buttonmashing is a sin that is guaranteed to be punished. It is always better to roll out of the way and attack from a long distance than to try to sneak in an extra blow with the sword. The enemies are ruthless and take on such forms immediately. In practice, this means that it is unreasonably risky to use heavier attacks, a feeling that persists even though I put a lot of effort into upgrading my agility.
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What is it?
Isometric action role-playing game where you are a crow. With sword.
PC (also for: Xbox)
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Ironically, this is a game that is very kind when you die. The consequences are few and the benefits all the more with caramelizing the lash from time to time. All enemies respawn, but you must start over in full vigor, all spent healing checkpoints are restored, and you do not have to open gates or celebrate ladders a second time, but all your progress is preserved.
Sometimes this layout is very nice. Many of us, the hardest masochists excepted, can get bored of being mashed to death by that troublesome enemy right at the end of a wooded area and forced to redo everything from the beginning. Sometimes, however, it becomes unsatisfactory. It is quite possible to strategically die through a difficult sequence. When I play badly and still move on, the feat feels undeserved.
There are undeniably some annoyances, but it is also noticeable that heart and care have been put into Death’s Door. Autumn leaves rustle on their claws as you step through them, soft snow falls from the sky and adorable forest creatures that are as if taken out Princess Mononoke follows you curiously. When you drop a poop, a minute of silence is held to reflect on its life and virtues. The music is also wonderful: you explore the world of soft flute and beautiful piano tones.
This is also not a game that takes itself too seriously. Crow colleagues complain that soul-gathering is a bureaucratic squirrel wheel while the boss – the enigmatic Lord of Doors – chills in his meta-dimension and sips from a “WORLD’S BEST LORD” mug. You meet the generous Pothead, who has a soup bowl to his head, and act as a source of inspiration for a poet’s horrible rhyme. The result is an artistically high-quality dark comedy.
Death’s Door is, despite its flaws, a fast-paced, appealing and surprisingly far-reaching experience. It’s well worth it to see what’s waiting on the other side of the door.
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(Crow) colleagues at the Commission
Meet some of the game’s feathered characters.
Lord of Doors – The highest hen, but is not a bird. Do not want you in his office.
Chandler the Handler – Less on all the extra work you caused him.
Baul Plart – Security guard. Never mind that you trigger the metal detector every time.
Badger – Is hard boiled.
Agatha – The only thing she loves more than her typewriter is paperwork.
Vaga – Eccentric and specialist in cryptic (yes, even vague) comments.
Charming, action-packed indie RPG that is definitely worth playing despite small flaws.