Death’s Door is the sophomore console release from two-man indie developer Acid Nerve, although the game carries itself with the confidence of a tried-and-tested triple-A sequel.
The comparisons with Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series are not unfounded, but are a disservice to the game’s creativity and engaging gameplay. Indeed, Death’s Door’s combat is more satisfying and its story more creative than any Zelda game of recent memory.
Whereas Skyward Sword HD becomes an arduous collect-a-thon in its final quarter, Death’s Door trims the fat to offer a concise and exciting journey which affords you the time to master its combat and abilities but never outstays its welcome with a palatable ten-hour campaign.
Acid Nerve has mastered the blend of easy-to-learn controls with challenging gameplay which puts only the player at fault when our diminutive Reaper – a sword-wielding crow tasked with restoring equilibrium to the afterlife by reaping the Souls from those that have lived past their expiry date – falls at the hands of one of his foes.
Saying that, Death’s Door is a challenging game so you can expect to be yelling expletives at the TV before the halfway point, with some later enemy encounters erring on the side of frustration when you’re sent back to the beginning of a dungeon upon your demise.
Thankfully, the ingenious level design has you opening a trail of shortcuts and health pick-ups for your future self, so retreading your footsteps never feels like a chore. In fact, getting back to the encounter that killed you for the second time gives you a chance to play better and conserve more health in a game whose health pick-ups are liberally scattered to say the least.
As alluded to in the title, Death’s Door does naturally touch on some dark themes, yet it does so with tact thanks to its brilliantly-written dialogue between our hero and the various NPCs encountered throughout the world. It really is the sort of game which’ll have you going back and speaking with everyone more than once, just to make sure you’ve heard all that they have to say.
Death’s Door (PlayStation 5) Verdict
With a triumphant soundtrack and a striking art style bringing its isometric overworld to life, Death’s Door is a fantastic adventure that’s absolutely worth experiencing. If you are sans Xbox and/or PC, or it simply passed you by in June, you now have no excuse for sleeping on this indie darling thanks to its arrival on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch.