Reviews | Written by Chris Jackson 20/07/2021

DEATH’S DOOR

PLATFORM: PC, XBOX (REVIEWED) | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

In this top-down hack n' slasher, you play as an unnamed crow working for the Reaper Commission – based in some sort of afterlife office, reapers head through mysterious doors within their HQ to claim the souls of the recently-departed before returning them to the big boss crow who then sends the reapers back out to find some more. Your task turns out to be slightly less straightforward, though – on your very first mission, another crow steals your bounty, dooming you to age indefinitely until you wither and die unless you can get that soul back...

Death's Door transports you to an afterlife full of beautifully-drawn sights to take in, puzzles to solve (how to get to tricky to reach switches, finding a way to open a seemingly unlockable gate, that sort of thing), creepy monsters to fight and endearingly odd characters to meet. An early NPC, Pothead, has a campfire on his shoulders and a gigantic pot full of soup where his head should be, and seems both depressed and delighted by his predicament. He sort of perfectly sums up the game as a whole really - a bit kooky and eccentric but also slightly downbeat and oppressive at the same time.

What at first appears to be a straightforward and simple adventure soon turns into something much more intriguing and engrossing than you might have expected. Combat is fairly basic, upgrades to your character are minimal (they do exist, but there's not many to choose from) and you don't lose any progress when you die, which is a welcome touch (these days, you sort of automatically expect any game involving souls to be unnecessarily punishing), but it does still offer a decent amount of challenge. Your actions need to be carefully considered and executed at just the right time, especially when taking on two or more enemies at once – it's one of those games where when you die, it's always your own fault for getting carried away and not paying enough attention.

A few outrageous difficulty spikes and checkpoints that are few and far between might cause a bit of frustration, but these ultimately force you keep trying until you master the game's mechanics, which in turn sets you up for the trials that lie ahead later in the game. Getting further into the game might be another potential source of upset – there's no in-game map, no journal or record of where you're currently going and no objective marker to aim for, so there may be points where you'll be wandering around trying to find your way for a little bit longer than you might like.

In many ways, Death's Door feels quite sparse when held up against similar games, but as a hand-crafted narrative adventure, it definitely hits a lot of the right notes. It's a bit like what you might end up with if Tim Burton turned his hand to directing a streamlined Legend of Zelda game, which is no bad thing at all.