Death’s Door, the latest game from developer Acid Nerve is an action-adventure featuring a small crow exploring a large and dangerous world
Death's Door Review | The Beautiful Dance of Life and Death
The story in Death’s Door is actually rather complex. Grappling with a world where creatures are living well past their expiration dates. You, a young crow are sent to collect one of these souls from the world of the living, but things don’t go exactly your way.
You work for a network of crows, all under the ruler known as the “Lord of Doors” a long lineage of entities that use their network of doors to essentially outsource the job of Death.
Crows, in turn, are granted the ability to age way slower as long as they are collecting souls, so when the soul you are assigned is trapped behind a locked door, it becomes your task to take down the three giants in the surrounding area to break open the door and complete your job.
This journey will take you to a bevy of different environments, all vastly different from each other. The gaudy and marvelous Ceramic Mansion is far different from the overgrown ruins and flooded fortress of the Frog King.
The level design in Death’s Door is reminiscent of the Souls series interconnected world. Traversing past tough enemies and puzzles to eventually unlock a shortcut back to the beginning helps make the world feel intertwined and intricate.
You’re never all that far away from your starting point and at any given moment you could find a secret way to travel back to wherever you need to be. Everything in the world of the living connects back to the Land of Doors, which is also used as your fast travel network.
The Land of Doors is colorless, bland, cold, and calculated. The exact opposite of everything you experience in the world of the living. Other Crows line the corridors and work areas, all wishing for a better life and a new line of work.
The juxtaposition of this world versus the world of the living creates a sense of overwhelming dread and sorrow that plagues the land. It also helps Death’s Door’s style really shine. The red sheen of your sword against the colorless backdrop of The Land of Doors is beautiful and haunting.
Death’s Door is more than solving puzzles and traversing environments though. The game has a very heavy emphasis on combat. Learning enemy and boss attack patterns, knowing when to dodge, and when to strike are all key components of the game. Enemy combat arenas are all over the place and knowing which enemies to take out first can be the key to survival.
Even though there is a lot of combat, it never feels stale or overdone. This is mainly thanks to the wide variety of enemy designs. I was encountering new enemies all the way up to the end of the game.
From small pots that shot projectiles, to large hulking creatures that would throw their boomerang-shaped horns at me. There are plenty of tough fights, but it’s all in a day’s work for a simple crow.
Each different area culminates in a boss fight that exudes flair and bombastic imagery. A giant grandma witch with an urn on her head, for instance, will spin shooting a volley of bombs that light up the screen. While a giant frog making the arena you’re fighting in start to disappear all had their own unique mechanics and puzzles to solve during the fight.
This made for engaging and challenging fights where victory never felt too far out of reach. That’s the real crux of Death’s Door. Every task might seem monumental at first, but as you begin to chip away slowly at each piece, it becomes more and more obtainable. You’re a small crow in a large world that was here long before you and will be here long after, but you’re leaving your mark on it.
My only real complaint with the combat is that I wish there were more weapons in the game. The five weapons you can get all feel very similar in the long run. Most just have minor stat differences and ultimately I stuck with the same weapon throughout most of the game without ever feeling like I needed to experiment or switch.
The true beauty of the story in Death’s Door reveals itself in its final act, and I won’t spoil anything here, but it’s worth seeking out for yourself and is something I’ll keep with me the rest of my life.
Oftentimes we as humans feel like a cog in the machine, and Death’s Door captures that feeling without fail. What happens when you decide that the machine needs to be taken down and repaired though? These are the questions the game asks, and certainly delivers on.
The game is full of secrets to explore, optional boss fights, powers to level up, and a cast of characters you won’t forget anytime soon.
If you’re looking for your next world to get lost in Death’s Door is one of the easiest recommendations I can make. Even after beating the game, there is a hefty post-game to dive into.
Death’s Door is coming to Xbox Game Pass and PC on July 20, 2021.
- Beautifully stylized world and characters
- Engaging and challenging boss fights
- Great post-game content
- Weapons feel a little too similar in style
- The story doesn't really pick up until the final act