Death’s Door was first released as a timed Xbox exclusive back in July 2021 (also on PC). Today, it finally comes to PlayStation consoles and Nintendo Switch. I got the chance to play the PlayStation 5 version a bit early and here are my impressions of Death’s Door, so far (myVGBC.com was provided a review code for Death’s Door by the publisher).
What is Death’s Door?
Death’s Door is an isometric action-adventure, role-playing game where you play as a soul-reaping crow. Once your assigned soul has gone missing it is now time to find it and uncover the true secrets of this strange world. The world is full of odd and spooky creatures.
The game features a black and white TVA-like (from the Loki series) office environment where the soul reapers report for duty. The story begins there which made me think the whole game would be in black and white — it isn’t, but both the black & white offices and the colorful world look vibrant and stunning.
I’ve only used my standard issue melee weapon (Reaper’s Sword) thus far, but I’m excited to try out the other weapons. There’s also a ranged weapon slot which began with a bow and arrow — I have now added a fireball to my ranged arsenal.
The combat in Death’s Door feels great but can be a bit tough at times. It’s not insanely hard combat (like Cuphead). The combat is tough in that you must act strategically, especially when dealing with multiple types of enemies at once. It’s a good thing your character starts off with the dodge roll, because you must learn to use it quickly in battle.
Since your soul-reaping crow does not have too many hit points (I believe I started with four), that’s another reason you must fight strategically. Enemy attacks can come in many forms. The most common being a creature chasing after you, but there are many other environmental attacks you must be on the lookout for. You can break vases and objects around the world. Some will explode and others will shoot a chaser orb towards you.
While many isometric combat games (Hades, Diablo 3) give you a great deal of life (hit points), so that you don’t really have to track where your life is at, as long as it’s not under 20%. In Death’s Door you can feel it when you are damaged, the controller vibrates, the screen shakes, the sound sort of cuts out making it feel like you just got hit real hard. Since you can’t take too much damage, the game really works to let you know when you do. Something I really love about this game is the “death animation.”
Death’s Door does seem to be relatively simple and straightforward with it’s overall goals. Some games today have way too much going on, and you just don’t know what to do. Death’s Door has the perfect mix of gameplay, looting and side stuff (I won’t call it side quests, because that’s not what it is). If you check your menu you will find the “Shiny Things” tab, which is basically a bunch of collectible objects to feed the lore of the world.
Some games have way too much looting, and breakable objects. Death’s Door has the right amount of breakable objects and items, plus breaking objects (or striking enemies) is how you generate more ranged attacks. There are many times you are forced to break a vase to gain an extra ranged attack, and the cool thing is that the vases come right back.
At one point early on I thought my PS5 DualSense battery had gone low, which was weird because I had charged it the night before. The light around the touchbar of my controller was blinking a light red, but I later noticed that it was because my character’s health was low. That’s a great small interactive feature.
The one thing I thought this game could use was a map. Early on I had freed three of four lost souls in one area and had a tough time figuring out where I hadn’t been yet to find that fourth and final soul. I didn’t want a map to tell me where to go. I wanted it to tell me where I had been so far.
Playing more of the game I realized that Death’s Door levels are greatly thought out. Even when lost, if you continue to explore you will find your way. Certain areas work like dungeons in Zelda games where you’re trying to figure out puzzles to progress.
Throughout the game there are door’s taking you between worlds — from the mysterious world to the reaper offices. In the reaper office, you are able to upgrade your abilities and more. These doors act as checkpoints and usually come into play right before a big boss fight most of the time.
I would like to have some more checkpoints throughout the game. I don’t even need traditional checkpoints, just that thing that when you die at a certain point they don’t take you all the way back to the beginning of the level or zone. It’s cool that areas I’ve unlocked end up staying open, leading to short cuts when coming back through, but there were still some points where I kept dying and starting way too far back.
When games make you repeat too much after dying, I try to speed through what I’ve already done before. The problem is that Death’s Door is not a game where you speed through combat. There are parts that you can get away with running past a battle you’ve already completed.
These are just minor complaints I had, and they aren’t even that big of a deal. I can truly see why this game was so loved when it first came out for Xbox consoles and I’m happy I get to play it now on my PlayStation 5.
Who’s it for?
Death’s Door is a great indie title. If you like dungeon crawling adventures with cool stories this is a good game for you. Even though Death’s Door is not a rogue-like/roguelite, it does give me that type of vibe — especially when it takes me way back after a death to start a big part over.
I was playing Hades, Boyfriend Dungeon and Death’s Door at the same time and can find some similarities between the three games (other than the isometric view) — while they are all still very different from each other.
Although I’m only a few hours in and still early into the game I’m very excited to continue playing Death’s Door and hopefully beating it very soon. I guess the main people this game is for now would be the people who missed out on the Xbox launch of Death’s Door.
Death’s Door is now out on PlayStation consoles, Nintendo Switch, Xbox consoles and PC.
*A PlayStation 5 review code was provided to myVGBC.com by the publisher.