Devolver Digital and Acid Nerve have teamed up again to bring us one of the best indie titles this year. Back in 2015, they worked together to publish one of my favorites of that year, Titan Souls. After playing through Death’s Door, you can feel the similarities, and I love it.
Death’s Door takes the player through the day-to-day life of a reaper, one with feathers. In this world, crows are agents in charge of reaping the souls of those soon to be deceased. They work for this bureaucratic office where they make it seem mundane, yet out on your first assignment, a soul you were designated to reap was stolen away from you. Long story short, without that soul to reap, you’re screwed. You see, these crows, these reapers, are immortal beings. They travel through dimensional doors tasked with reaping. They deliver the soul, and all is right in the world. That is until they don’t; reapers are only immortal when their door is closed. So if their assignment is still open, the door is still open, and they are mortal. Our feathery little reaper must now locate his stolen soul before it is too late.
Intriguing no? The lore and world-building make things interesting, yet it’s the combat where Death’s Door hooks you. You’re only equipped with a beam sword, bow, and a dodge roll. Those familiar with Titan Souls may find the action here very familiar, as I did, using lots of rolls to dodge while making quick attacks at enemies. Of which, there is a wide variety the game will offer you. You’ll have your close-range fodder who enjoy getting up in your face and those enemies who stick back and try to annoy you with ranged attacks.
The game is not shy about enemy types nor throwing you into situations where you fight wave after wave of enemies. Then there are the boss battles; this is where the game fully encapsulates the Titan Souls DNA. It’s all about dodging the patterned boss attacks and finding that exact right time to hit them with a flurry of your own. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and it’s challenging. The game does a fantastic job of forcing you to stretch your skills and adopt a few different strategies as you reap your way through each of the various doors. Each door takes you into a whole new universe, and each universe feels different from one another. You genuinely feel as if you’re embarking on quests to very different worlds.
You’ll have to use your head as healing also requires some strategy and hindsight. You can only heal from designated planters where specific seeds located throughout the game world are required. If the planter is seedless, then no health station for you. From my playthrough, I couldn’t tell how many seeds there were, so you may have to be choosey about where you plant them as once their health is used, they will only refill on your next run. To make the runs easier, you can upgrade your little crow. Using the collected souls of enemies you have defeated, you can head back to the hub world and speak to one of the agency crows to upgrade your stats. You can also find and unlock additional swords to use. The first one I found was an umbrella, so you can tell Acid Nerve does have a little fun with things.
The game isn’t without its puzzles, though; you’ll encounter areas where you’ll need keys or items to access further into a level and to make traversing easier, you’ll find ladders that will open up shortcuts to the later parts of each world. Thankfully, this does help with the backtracking of some levels, not making navigation frustrating during my adventure.
Death’s Door has some fun lore and a fantastic main character; I mean, I love birds, and what’s not to love about a little bird with a sword? The combat is tight, and battles with enemies and bosses never feel unfair. If anything, each failure felt like it was my fault, something I could fix in a future run or my playstyle overall. Everything comes together so well in Death’s Door; it’s just so enjoyable to play. It has become a top ten contender for my games of the year list so far.
A Steam code was provided by the publisher for review purposes