What do you get if you run Zelda, Dark souls and Hollow Knight in a pot? The answer: The door of death. The latest release from publisher Devolver Digital and developer Acid Nerve is a love letter to the adventure game genre, mixing the magic, beautiful worlds and mystery featured in the aforementioned titles. As an Xbox console exclusive, Death’s Door is here to fill a missing void in the brand’s library, and not only does it succeed, but it proves that it is one of the best Xbox games to play around. moment.
Explaining the premise of Death’s Door is strange. You play as a crow working in a ‘Monsters Inc.’ type in the setup where your job is to walk through the doors and claim the souls of the deceased. Unfortunately, a job goes horribly wrong, as the soul escapes and goes beyond what is called the Door of Death. What happens is a quest to venture into the Unknown Realm claiming the souls of various inhabitants, each residing in their own corner of the world.
As mentioned, Death’s Door is a game that has many inspirations, with Dark Souls casually resting on its sleeve. But perhaps the most notable resemblance comes from callbacks to Zelda – especially A link to the past. With a giant world to explore, teeming with secrets and lore to uncover, you’ll venture into distinct areas, each with their own bosses to defeat and dungeons to roam. It not only embodies this classic Zelda formula, but replicates it almost perfectly when it comes to its global design.
These dungeons are also long. Each has a pre-area with nooks and crannies to explore, but once inside for the main event, there really grows on these influences. You’ll travel through room after room, solving puzzles, finding keys, and opening new avenues to venture further. It all ends with a massive boss battle, which contains some of Death’s Door’s most visceral moments. You will also learn new abilities within each, such as being able to wield a fire spell, and these will be critical to your success in exploiting the hidden weaknesses of the final boss. The length of these always ensures you have plenty of time to play with the new toys you’ve unlocked, slowly feeding more and more as you continue.
It also contains elements of Hollow Knight and Dark Souls. There is a central mystery surrounding everything, which calls for no explanation unless you want to dig deeper. The characters speak in puzzles, shortcuts can be found and you can increase your abilities by using souls as currency or by finding sanctuaries of health and magic hidden around the world. The majority of Death’s Door’s most fascinating and challenging moments lie in plain sight, and it’s up to you to explore and find them.
He feels perfectly balanced in his fights and has a fantastic pace in terms of exploration and battles. Just as you start to feel the weight of his fight dragging you down, he’ll quickly transition into a classic Zelda-style dungeon crawl, with keys, secrets, and puzzles to solve. He walks with such confidence that it’s hard not to be enveloped in his world.
While the game grows back, it’s not straight blood. Combat in particular is where the weight of it all comes from, forcing you into difficult scenarios quickly. The first monster you face is a boss, which quickly challenges you to see if you live up to the test. Despite this, it still seems fair. Enemies have unique attack patterns that you can learn and exploit, and the combat itself is still basic enough that it never overwhelms you. You can spend Souls to improve your attack power and more, ensuring you are always one step ahead of the competition.
He is also demanding in what he asks of you. Your character has both a melee and ranged attack, and you can switch between the two instantly. As you progress you will unlock more interesting combinations to achieve, but it is still relatively simple in the best possible way. Hitting with your sword provides a wonderful amount of feedback, while ranged attacks seem powerful enough to be useful. However, you don’t have an unlimited number of uses, and you quickly learn to get up close, as hitting enemies and other objects across the world recharges your ranged attack. It’s subtle, but it encourages you to engage in much more complex encounters thanks to such a simple mechanic.
These difficult scenarios are not seen better than in the secondary areas. While you can easily stay on the main path, venturing out is the most fun. There are optional puzzles, collectibles to find, and powerful bosses to battle. Much like Hollow Knight, the optional situations you find yourself in are often the most memorable, offering the best long-term rewards. At first glance, it may seem small, but the design of the maze of the world contains a lot of it, every nook hides something new to find.
One of the ways that Death’s Door stands out, however, is its use of humor. Since you play as a crow in a world where you have to collect souls, that’s not exactly the most straightforward premise. Acid Nerve understands this and instead has created a fairytale world, with locals carefully judging black humor with a few daddy jokes. When you meet a character with a pot for a head and their name is Pothead, you’ll understand what we mean.
While Death’s Door borrows a lot of elements from many other games, it crushes them all together and refines them into its own thing. Nothing looks undercooked and the result is a mysterious world you will instantly lose yourself in. Aside from the weird hollow of the frame in some situations, we absolutely loved Death’s Door. It’s a game filled with surprises, nods, humor, and moves at such a rate that we could barely put down the controller. Such well-designed games don’t happen very often, but when they do, they’re something to celebrate. Death’s Door deserves all the attention it will likely get and is a contender for one of the best games of 2021.