Review: Death's Door

Death's Door is a brand new indie title from Acid Nerve , also known as the studio behind Titan Souls and perhaps even better known for their new title: Death's Door.

In Death's Door you take on the role of a small crow with a glowing sword on its back. You are a Reaper and you are responsible for harvesting souls in the world of the living. You are basically an immortal being like Reaper, but once you enter the world of the living as a Reaper through one of the many doors, you are mortal. This means you can die from one of the many dangers in your path, including some very cool bosses that you have to defeat to progress in the game.

Your great mission is to harvest three great souls from the rulers in the different types of areas. To get to these rulers and ultimate bosses, you cross different locations, each with new and unique enemies. You will have to deal with waves of enemies, puzzles, secret passages, hidden weapons and much more.

Death's Door

Death's Door takes the playing crow to many locations The many doors in the world that serve as checkpoints and starting points of new locations are also ways back to the hub of the Reapers. Here you come back time and time again to find little bits of story and to make your little crow stronger by spending souls.

A small nod to the Dark Souls games is the existence of souls as a medium of exchange. In this case, souls serve to strengthen your character. For example, by spending souls you can ensure that you can deal harder hits, but also roll faster, or inflict more damage with your various special attacks such as bow and arrow, bombs and fireballs. The big advantage, however, is that you don't lose your earned souls if you die. On the other hand, enemies give very few souls as rewards and you really have to go beyond your beak to find hidden souls.

In addition, Death's Door plays very much like an old Zelda game and this is meant in the most positive sense there is. There is always a given path from beginning to end. So it's not a roguelike, where every time you start over, the whole world suddenly works differently. Although the gameplay might make you suspect this a bit, this is not the case. It's a carefully forged world filled with little branches to secret locations where you'll find extra souls, optional bosses, secret weapons and altars to permanently increase your health.

No open door

Unfortunately, not all trails are free to walk from the start. While playing, you qualify with several roads that are blocked in one way or another. Some blockages can be cleared immediately with locally available resources such as explosive flowers, but some paths can only be walked at a later time.

This is where Zelda comes into play again. Because also in the worlds of old Zelda titles we see that you sometimes have to go back to an earlier place because you only find a certain object later in the game that allows you to suddenly reach that previously unreachable place. That's how it is in Death's Door. As you progress through the game and pretty much every big boss you unlock a new special power. For example, you get a fireball that you can throw to create certain fire pits that open a gate somewhere. Also, you can now open paths blocked by the spider web by burning the spider web.

A little later you also get bombs and a grappling hook to clear paths from blocking rocks, or to bridge certain gaps using the grappling hook. Death's Door constantly encourages you to go back to previous areas to explore the additional locations. After all, extra souls can be found here, an altar may be hidden and there may even be a new weapon.

Not out the door yet

Death's Door looks beautiful. Compared to Acid Nerve's previous hit title Titan Souls, it's a huge improvement. Titan Souls went for a slightly different look with a pixelated style. This was certainly not ugly, but Death's Door surpasses this draft by many measures. Not only does it look stunning, but it is also a joy to play. The different types of attacks are all very fluid. The variation in weapons provides a nice variety that you actually feel while playing. Coupled with a very fitting soundtrack, it's just really hard to leave Death's Door alone for a while, even if after dying 10 times on the same bit of annoyance you almost break your controller in two.

Verdict

Death's Door is very well put together. It plays very smoothly and looks slick. The huge nod to The Legend of Zelda in terms of design and gameplay works very well. The nod to Dark Souls in terms of characters and other minor elements is an extremely fitting fit for the style of the game and also the Zelda way of playing.

The two sources of influence reinforce each other in terms of story, exploration, lore and general vibe. It's rare that a game surprises you as good as Death's Door and at first glance you wouldn't expect this. It's only when you've got your hands on the game yourself that you'll feel the magic that won't let go for the next 8 to 10 hours.

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