The first time I saw video I saw of Death’s Door was the main character reading a sign. At first, I didn’t think much of what was going on in the video until the player cut the sign in half and read the sign again. Instead of it showing the full text, only the piece of the sign still up showed up in the text box. It was at this point that I knew I had to try this game.
Death’s Door is an action-adventure game, where anytime you die or enter the world again, the enemies come back alive. The main difference mechanically between this and a souls game, is that you get to keep the in-game currency when you die. It was nice to not have to worry about dying or thinking about if I should risk exploring even further in the map. Now I still love Bloodborne, but I felt this mechanic helped my anxiety immensely. Instead of having a ten minute conversation in my head about if I should go further, Death’s Door lets you do that without punishing you too much if you die.
There’s really two gameplay elements to the game: the action and the puzzles. The action isn’t anything revolutionary, but it is solid. Slashing your sword or using your magic felt responsive and fun to use. The enemies are varied, so you’ll want to mix up your play style from using your magic at range and getting up close and personal with your weapon. It’s ultimately up to you on how you want to play the game, but Death’s Door does force the player to get a few hits with the weapon (on items or enemies) in order to restore your magic.
Even with the action being fairly basic, Death’s Door does an insanely good job with balancing the game. Death’s Door does everything it can to coddle the player when they introduce a new enemy, but then they dial up the action once you defeat them for the first time. There was never a time that I felt my deaths, and I died quite a bit, were cheap. The enemies are varied, and some take longer than others to understand their move set. By mixing up your magic and melee, you’ll have to decide what works best for you in any given situation.
The puzzles in this game are probably the weakest part. For the most part, there isn’t much you really have to think about to progress in the main story and it seems the purpose is just to give the player a break from the crazy amounts of action they just endured. It’s not that the puzzles were bad, and this isn’t necessarily a puzzle game, but it seems like they could have done a little more for it. Finding shrines that upgrade your magic or health were probably the only part of the puzzles that felt rewarding. For instance, there is one part of the map where you use reflections to find a secret area, and I thought that was a neat way to get the player to think out of the box. There’s other situations of this, like using collectibles to find a pattern, but most players probably won’t even know about it when they beat the game.
There are bosses in this game, and they all felt much different from each other and spiced up the action. Whether you face the mainline bosses or venture off and fight mini-bosses, you’ll be sure to find some challenge with them. The move sets for the main bosses are completely different from anything else in the game, and each one has a weakness that is fun to exploit. I’m sure there will be some frustrating moments for some bosses in the game for other players, but there is a sense of accomplishment after you’ve slayed each one of them.
In Death’s Door you play as a crow that must hunt souls for the Lord of Doors. You learn that the crows are immortal until they go into the real world to collect souls. When the crow enters the real world, they age and experience a normal life. You are asked to retrieve a soul in the beginning of the game, but quickly find out that things don’t go to plan. Instead of being in the real world for a hot minute, you will have to do extra work to complete your ultimate task. Each level gives you the background for each main boss you face, but they aren’t necessary to know for the main story. However, they do enhance it and can really pull on your heartstrings. There’s one boss that you can feel the pain they are feeling and it’s gut wrenching.
Even with the stellar gameplay and an interesting story, there’s one part of this game that stands out above the rest: the soundtrack. The OST to this game is absolutely phenomenal. There aren’t many games I can think of that have a better soundtrack than this game. Every area has a new beautiful sound to it and I would occasionally put my controller down and just listen to the music. It’s easily the best part of this game, and it helps make the rest of the game even better. This is an OST I imagine that I will remember for a long time.
The trophies in the game are well thought out, but I do hate missable trophies. Especially the ones that are super easy to get, but you just didn’t know about it. All of the trophies are fair, in my opinion, and I do think some are pretty creative. The collectibles are easy to get in this game, but I wish there was a better tracking system for the health pickups. The trophies get an 8/10 for me.
Overall, Death’s Door is one of my favorite games of the year. The story is interesting, the gameplay is challenging and fun, and the soundtrack is one of the best in the industry. I truly do love this game more than other game of the year contenders. This game caught me by surprise, and I expect it to do the same for many of you.