Death’s Door is a fantastic new action-RPG from developers Acid Nerve. You are a reaper that collects the souls of the dead. But you are not just any reaper, you are a bird! A crow to be exact! It might sound strange, but it works and perfectly matches the art style of this game. I was given the opportunity to play Death’s Door on PC via Steam and chose to use my PS5 Dual Sense Controller for my play through.
The game starts out with your character being dropped off by a bus. The setting is dark and dreary, fully grey scale to be exact. You’re carrying a sword and a bow and this introduction to the game gives you a great opportunity to get used to the camera view and game controls. Slowly, you make your way through this dark setting to a security checkpoint that waves your through. You enter a great hall with desks and a large crow sitting behind a counter. Here, we learn our purpose as a Reaper for the ‘Reaping Commission’ and that we travel though doorways to varied locations to reap souls. The souls power the doors and without souls, you have no power for the doors, so you need more… Yeah, the game makes a joke about this, which I found hilarious.
We’re set a task to, you guessed it, reap a soul, a giant soul that contains so much power it will change the reapers lives forever. Souls not only provide power to the doors, but they also prevent you from aging. The longer you spend on the other side, the more you age. So, we head through our first doorway and suddenly there is colour and light. It is evident that the Reaping Commission exists on some form of higher dimension between life and death, and the change in colour to distinguish between the two is extremely clever.
As we make our way through this new land, we encounter various beings that we can hack and slash with our sword. It is very satisfying taking these ‘enemies’ out to collect their souls. In a similar nature to the ‘Dark Souls’ games, you collect souls that can be used later on at the Hall of Doors to upgrade your character. The bow is a magical one that is powered by soul-charged arrows. However, you only have four slots available. Each melee strike you make, be it slicing a mushroom, breaking a canister or attacking an enemy, your quiver replenishes. Admittedly, I was not aware of this and defeated the first major boss with only my sword… whoops.
Before you reach this first boss, you do encounter the giant soul you are meant to collect. However, it is swiftly snatched from the clutches of your wings. It isn’t until after you defeat the first boss, a large glowing castle with towers for arms, that you meet the thief, a larger and seemingly much older crow. This mysterious character tells a story of a giant door known as ‘Death’s Door’. To activate it and reclaim your immortality, you must venture to three locations and defeat each major foe to collect their soul. With each of these in hand, Death’s Door shall open.
The movement and battle style of Death’s Door is very fluid, fast and somewhat frustrating. Frustrating in the sense that if you die, you’re sent right back to where you began your journey. It is evident that the developers borrowed a lot from the Dark Souls series in this. Whilst I have not personally played those games, I have watched a lot of friends play them. The frustrations of death just pushed me to try harder and with enough practice (trust me, there was plenty of practice) I homed in my skills and started to learn different ways to approach the enemy. Overall, the fighting style of this game is very fun and satisfying.
The puzzle solving in Death’s Door only heightens the experience. As a huge fan of platformers, I was thrilled when I was presented with puzzles that require forward thinking and planning to complete. These puzzles not only allow you to progress forward in the game, but they also open up paths behind you, so that when you inevitably die, and you will die again and again, returning to your foe is just that little bit easier. I think this is a great addition to a game, as there is nothing worse than having to complete the same puzzle over and over just to get back to the boss. This sets Death’s Door apart from other games I have played of similar nature.
There is so much to love about Death’s Door from the beautiful score and sound by David Fenn to the stunning colours, artwork and character design, I could easily play this game for hours on end and never get bored of it. The only thing that is preventing me from doing so I think is more a limitation of the computer that I was running it on. Even with all the graphical settings turned off and reduced, my Laptop’s GTX 1650 seemed to struggle with the visuals. The screen for the most part was jittery and did give me a headache. I believe the game could possibly do with some optimisation on lower end PCs.
I highly recommend Death’s Door to anyone that enjoys fun puzzle solving and frustratingly difficult boss fights. I would also recommend if you do play on PC, use a controller. I definitely got more out of the experience with a controller than I did with a keyboard and mouse.
Game optimisation issues aside, Death’s Door is a fantastic and satisfying game that I desperately want to play more of. So, it seems that I will be parking my gameplay for now and investing in an Xbox Series S, so I can eventually complete this stunning game.
Death’s Door is available now on PC via the Steam Store via the Xbox Store for Series X/S.