Not many games let you play as birds, do they?
Death’s Door not only lets you play as a bird – a Crow, in fact – but one that also has a job. As an employee of the Reaping Commission, it’s your duty to reap the souls that have been assigned to you, travelling through magical doors that take you right to your target. Your job comes with a decent perk, too – you only age while a door remains open. And so, when the soul of your latest gig suddenly gets swept up from right in front of you, it causes a bit of a situation. You need to get that soul back, or otherwise you won’t be living for quite as long as you once thought.
Following the soul through another mysterious door that has opened into a haunting graveyard, your journey truly begins. An action RPG clearly inspired by the likes of old-fashioned The Legend of Zelda games, taking control of the Crow you’ll slice and dice enemies with your sword, while solving puzzles and pulling levers to open up new areas. Eventually you’ll find the culprit who snatched up your soul and will be given a new task to complete: obtain three large souls to open up a large mysterious door. And so of course, that means you’ve got to go and defeat three large foes.
Three areas branch off from the graveyard, each one harbouring a soul that needs to be reaped. Getting to them isn’t an easy task, however; not with labyrinthine environments and actual dungeons in the way. There are countless enemies too, which you can often avoid if you want but some combat is inevitable. Besides, by defeating enemies you gain souls, and they can be used to strengthen your crow back at the Reaping Commission Headquarters. Along with the numerous weapons that you may find on your adventure, it helps make taking your main targets down that bit easier.
Whether you use your trusty sword or another weapon is up to you; a pair of daggers ended up being our weapons of choice thanks to their swift attacks and high combo count. You might decide you like using a slow but hard-hitting hammers, but you’re not guaranteed to find such a weapon unless you put in the effort – Death’s Door rarely give you anything for free. Crow is a magic user, too. Initially he can only fire a magical bow, but by rescuing the spirits of dead crows in multiple areas he can travel through a yet more doors and do battle with the monsters hidden inside living chests. Emerge victorious, and more spells become available.
Adding to the sense of adventure, with new spells in your arsenal, such as the bomb, you can travel back to areas previously visited and discover new secrets. There are some 16 shrines to find hidden throughout the game, and by collecting the crystals they offer, your maximum health and magic can be increased. There are collectibles to find, too, as well as wayward souls that make upgrading your crow that little bit easier. It’s just a shame that there isn’t a map to make the whole process that bit more alluring – it’s easy to get lost and give up hope of finding any more secrets out of frustration.
Combat, while immensely enjoyable for the huge majority of the game, can also be a little frustrating at times, too. You have standard attacks that can be chained into combos, a charged attack that does massive damage, and even a dash attack. Your spells are useful for doing damage to enemies at range as well. Utilising them effectively is the key to your success. Death’s Door will often lock in a room and throw waves of enemies at you, however, and sometimes the combinations can be fiendish. The real kicker, though, is that there’s no way to heal yourself during combat. Just one mistake can quickly ruin your fun.
By default you have just four health pips, and coming into contact with any enemy attack will take one away. So, get into a fight with four or more enemy waves thrown your way, or an extended sequence in which you have to battle your way through a densely populated area while also avoiding other hazards, and death can come swiftly and often. The only way you can heal yourself is by finding seeds on your adventure and then planting them in empty plant pots. They come in handy every once in a while, but are useless when it comes to the game’s real sticking points.
Ultimately it’s the boss fights you’ll remember by the time the credits roll on Death’s Door. There’s more of them than you’ll probably expect, and each and every one of them is wonderfully designed. They can be tricky to defeat – one or two of them particularly so – but when you emerge victorious the feeling is akin to overcoming a boss in Dark Souls. Needless to say, if you love games like The Legend of Zelda and don’t mind a bit more of a challenge, be sure to give Death’s Door your attention.
Death’s Door Review: GameSpew’s Score