Death's Door | PS5 Review
Death’s Door is an action-adventure game developed by Acid Nerve and published by Devolver Digital. Earlier this month, it won Best Indie Game at The Game Awards 2021. Initially released exclusively on Windows PC, it is now available on PlayStation, XBox and Nintendo Switch and for the purpose of my review I was playing the PlayStation 5 version.
In Death's Door you take on the role of a little tiny crow who starts off with only a few basic attacks. You work for the Reaping Commission as a Soul Reaper. Your job is to deal with the administration and bureaucracy that surrounds death. On occasion there are people that refuse to die and in these scenarios, a Soul Reaper is sent out to kill them and collect their souls. Death’s Door is split up into three areas which is where you will find the main boss of the area. Whilst Death’s Door on the surface is fairly linear, there’s plenty of reason to go back and revisit prior areas as well. You gain other powers because there’s a variety of paths and other shortcuts that can be open providing you with excellent rewards to be found. You enter into each area through a door that spawns and as you progress through the levels you’ll find other doors that open up and act as shortcuts and checkpoints for you to restart from if you die. The distance between these doors can be quite substantial so prepare for many deaths and much struggle as you navigate to the next door where your progress will be saved.
First and foremost, Death’s Door is really stunning. I absolutely adore the art style; it's dark and gothic, yet adorable and is absolutely jam packed with charm throughout. However don’t let this charm deceive you as you will become incredibly familiar with the “death” screen very quickly. No death is in vain in Death’s Door and you’ll always find progress isn’t too far away if you just persevere. With every single death I found myself understanding more and progressing more through difficult fights and I got a real sense of achievement throughout the game. The combat was so satisfying and this feeling continued to grow with every little milestone I hit. Initially, I was navigating through levels and really struggling with enemies within and I was frustrated and confused at not being able to get past certain areas. But then on re-visiting them with new powers and new strength it was a totally different story and I was able to open up these other paths and didn’t struggle with the enemies either. This meant that no matter how many times I died, I knew I was still progressing. I really feel like the developers did an exceptional job of striking the balance between the game being really challenging but still really enjoyable and accessible for even a casual gamer to enjoy without feeling anything more than slight frustration at your own abilities but not feeling frustrated by the game itself.
All throughout the game I was faced with well designed levels that all flowed together really nicely and there was also a constant sense of achievement and progress felt throughout. Within the levels and alongside the combat you’ll be faced with puzzles. The majority were fairly simple to figure out and at no point felt like a frustrating waste of my time, and after a relatively simple puzzle there was always something rewarding and worthwhile at the other side. Usually these rewards will be large souls which are what you use to level up your crow. As you collect souls you can take them back to your starting area to spend them on upgrades. The upgrade system was certainly noticeable. At first I wasn’t quite seeing the effects that my upgrades were having. However when I went back to a previous area for whatever reason, the upgrade was very clear and significant and has an effect on how you go on to play the game allowing you to be even more fluid in your combat and allowing you to really appreciate the obvious care and attention that was given by the developers.
Special mention should also be given to the soundtrack. Accompanying the otherwise epic game, the soundtrack is an absolute treat. The soundtrack flows so flawlessly with entirely different moods and feels as you move through the world. One of the most notable points for me was the sudden shift in the music during the fight against the Urn Witch. I don’t know why it sticks in my mind so much, but it was just so perfect. I also think that the soundtrack has easily made its way into my top 3 game soundtracks and now takes up residence beside Death Stranding and Hades.
I really could not speak any better of Death’s Door. It is truly a magnificent game in every sense. Whilst it can become quite tough in places everything is within reach and beatable no matter what your skill level is. I may play a lot of games but I’m by no means a pro gamer but I’m stubborn and continue and Death’s Door truly rewarded me for that at every opportunity so you don’t need to be a pro gamer to succeed. I’ve already put 12 hours into the game and I am at the end, however I certainly had my struggles causing me a few hours longer on the playtime so someone who’s more adept with the genre will probably see themselves beating the game quicker than myself. With that said, I don’t feel like any of those hours being stuck were wasted and I absolutely would go back and do it all again.
Lj’s Rating: 5 giant souls out of 5.
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Many thanks to Indigo Pearl for the Review Key.