Death’s Door released on Xbox platforms and PC earlier this year to rave reviews, and, as a PlayStation 5 gamer, I was very, very jealous. I was already a big fan of developer Acid Nerve’s previous release Titan Souls, and this looked like it expanded on that formula with more intuitive gameplay mechanics and a slick isometric visual style. I wanted to play it badly.
Well, after six long months, it has finally made its way to the PlayStation 5, and I’m happy to report that it lived up to all of my expectations. It’s as simple as this: Death’s Door is brilliant.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Players take on the role of a Reaper named Crow, which is basically a (kind of) anthropomorphic crow that goes around collecting souls. He’s like the Grim Reaper, really, but a bit more feathered. His day takes a bit of a weird turn when one of the souls he collected ends up getting stolen, with an ex-Reaper known as Grey Crow trying to use it to open the Death’s Door. Intrigued (and with a little bit of coercion from Grey Crow motivating him), he decides to try and collect more souls in order to see what lies beyond the titular doorway.
The basics of Death’s Door’s narrative are simple enough, but there’s this depth to the tale that makes it all the more alluring as you progress further through the game. There are plenty of peculiar characters to meet in the world that share bizarre interactions with you, folk have got their own little stories to tell that bring with them plenty of intrigue, whilst the world itself seems to hide many secrets that help further your understanding of the grander narrative. There’s a lot to the tale and it’s easy to find yourself invested in seeing it through to its conclusion.
“Exploration is very satisfying, especially with the isometric viewpoint that helps hide plenty of secrets for the player to discover, whilst the levels themselves feel almost Zelda-like with their intricate designs and elements of light puzzling.”
It’s when exploring the world and vanquishing enemies that I had my most fun with the game, though. Exploration is very satisfying, especially with the isometric viewpoint that helps hide plenty of secrets for the player to discover, whilst the levels themselves feel almost Zelda-like with their intricate designs and elements of light puzzling. It feels great to control Crow too, with his nimble manoeuvres making it easy to make your way across the land, whilst he’ll also unlock new abilities that will allow him to reach previously inaccessible areas as you progress. That’s right, Death’s Door has some Metroidvania-style elements infused in the gameplay, but never in an overbearing way that’ll leave you completely flummoxed as to where you might need to go next – it’s just worth keeping note of previously inaccessible areas and re-visiting them when you’re better equipped.
That being said, it would have been nice to have a map feature, if only to keep track of some of these locales. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, but it would have made my life that little bit easier. With so much to discover though, it’s hard not to feel satisfied simply scouring through every nook and cranny.
“The bosses are even more deadly, with each showdown really putting your skills to the test. They’re all absolutely brilliant though, with the varied boss designs ensuring you’ll never quite know what you’re going to face off against next in each showdown.“
When not exploring the world or solving the puzzles found within it, players will spend their time beating up baddies. You’re well equipped for the job too, with Crow armed with both a sword and a bow that makes him effective from close and long-range. You’ll also unlock different weapons and abilities as you progress, with things like rogue daggers, a thunder hammer, or an umbrella (seriously) giving you new tools to beat enemies up with, and abilities like the flame and bomb spell giving you some more creative ways to hurt them. The abilities can be upgraded too, giving you more powerful variations that pack a bit more punch, whilst Crow can also increase his stats to become more effective in battle. You’ll definitely feel a real sense of progression as you power up and it feels good to make quick work of enemies that might have proven a bit tougher to tackle earlier in the game.
Enemies aren’t push overs mind, so you can expect to face off against some worthy adversaries on your journey. Standard enemies will unleash all sorts of different attacks that you’ll have to be wary of, so you’ll certainly need to time your actions carefully if you want to survive. They’ll often require some clever thinking to take down too, with nothing in Death’s Door ever feeling too easy. The bosses are even more deadly, with each showdown really putting your skills to the test. They’re all absolutely brilliant though, with the varied boss designs ensuring you’ll never quite know what you’re going to face off against next in each showdown. Thankfully, there’s a fair balance of difficulty, and whilst you can expect to suffer plenty of deaths in Death’s Door, you’ll never feel like you’re facing a challenge you can’t overcome. I just found myself excited to face off against each enemy that came my way – it just goes to show how finely-tuned and satisfying that the combat of the game really is.
“The way the world is presented is beautiful thanks to its blend of almost monochrome-like locales and those bursting with colour, whilst the sheer variety of locations you visit ensure you’ll always encounter something new.”
Death’s Door gets all of the basics right thanks to its fun exploration, stellar combat, and cool boss showdowns, but there’s also something about the atmosphere that makes it feel so damn good to play. The way the world is presented is beautiful thanks to its blend of almost monochrome-like locales and those bursting with colour, whilst the sheer variety of locations you visit ensure you’ll always encounter something new. It features a low-poly style, but there’s something about the way it’s presented that just makes the world feel packed with detail and vibrancy. There’s plenty of creativity shown in the character designs too, with some really WEIRD creatures to encounter throughout the adventure (in a good way, of course). I just loved being a part of the world, whilst some stand out set pieces and locales will stick with me for some time (yes, I’m talking about you, Estate of the Urn Witch).
Death's Door Review
Death’s Door is a fantastic action adventure that isn’t only brilliant to play but is also oozing with style and atmosphere. I loved exploring the vast world, uncovering its secrets, and then scouring through previously inaccessible areas, whilst showdowns with the game’s many bosses were always full of thrills. Add to that the intriguing storytelling that’ll have you fully invested in the world, and it becomes easy to see that Death’s Door really is something special.
It’s just a finely crafted experience that rarely puts a foot wrong… what more could you want? (Ok, maybe a map, but that’s it.)
Developer: Acid Nerve
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC