In Death casts players as an unnamed hero whose sole purpose is to travel through the depths of Purgatory and the majestic floating islands of Paradise Lost to restore harmony to the afterlife. The corridors, courtyards, castles and crypts of these surreal almost Escher-like otherworldly environments are littered with undead knights, monks, spirits and banshees waiting to end your quest at the first available opportunity, but with your trusty bow in hand, and a devastating array of magical arrows at your disposal, victory is always just about within reach.
It's not quite as straightforward as it might sound though. In Death operates on a roguelike permadeath system, where the basic structure of Purgatory and Paradise Lost - and the placement of enemies within - changes each time you play. “Achievements” are awarded for completing certain objectives, unlocking modifiers like adding new enemies into the mix or throwing new ammo types into the available pool of randomly-spawning items, ensuring each run through the game feels different to the last. If the enemies overpower you, your run is over and it's back to the beginning to try again. Achievements are saved though, so players should never feel like they're losing progress.
The bow (and crossbow, when unlocked) feels fantastic to use, although it can take a little getting used to as there's no aiming crosshair so some trial and error is necessary in the early going. Shooting flaming arrows into an enemy's face feels and sounds incredibly satisfying, and all of the various ammo types can be used to create diversions, traps and combos. There's a huge range of comfort and locomotion options, and the game can be played standing or seated with either Move controllers or a regular Dualshock pad.
There's also an inventive online aspect, known here as “Ladders”, where players move up (or down) various leaderboards and are able to challenge other players to gain the best score within the same game. Ladders are updated twice a week based on players' performances, so bragging rights are always there for the taking, lending a reason to keep playing long after you feel like you've reached your limit in the single player mode.
Visually, In Death is one of the best looking PSVR games we've come across, even on a regular old non-Pro PS4. Everything looks beautifully crisp and clean, and the twisting spires of Paradise Lost are particularly stunning. There are only two areas in the game though, and once you get the hang of things it's possible to run through to the end fairly quickly. Completing both areas takes you back to the beginning, where each level then alternates - adding increasingly difficult enemies - for as long as you can survive. One or two more areas would be nice, but it's not out of the realms of possibility that these could be added in the future.
In Death really does have pretty much everything going for it. Novel, enjoyable and above all else supremely addictive combat, gorgeous locations, all the comfort settings you could possibly want (often overlooked in similar titles), and hugely replayable, we'll be sticking with this one for a long time to come.
IN DEATH / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: SÓLFAR STUDIOS / PLATFORM: OCULUS RIFT, PCVR, PSVR (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW