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Death’s Door Review – Review

This year has been very generous with its fun and challenging action games, and Death’s Door is no exception. After making the rounds on other platforms, Switch players finally have the chance to swing a sword as a tiny little crow that is conquering the world to open a single door. The switch’s portability seems a perfect fit for Death’s Door’s up-to-the-minute gameplay, but does it really live up to all of the critical praise it has received? I’m happy to say that the answer to that question is yes, absolute.

In Death’s Door, the player takes control of a small crow that acts as a grim reaper to fetch the souls of the deceased and bring them to the afterlife, all under the command of the mysterious Lord of Doors. When these crows are at work, a portal in the form of a door opens and cannot be closed until the reaper has retrieved the soul assigned to him. As long as the door is open the crow is mortal and ages over time, and therefore it is encouraged to rescue these souls quickly. Our crow has a problem when he tries to get the assigned soul when a bigger crow steals it. This fellow reaper lost his assigned soul eons ago when it landed behind a mysterious portal called Death’s Door, and he asks our little crow for help in retrieving three huge souls that can be used to open the door and two crows to enable them to finally get their job done.

The fight in Death’s Door is very simple: the Y button performs a simple melee strike that can be chained to combos of different lengths depending on the weapon used, while ZR allows you a charged heavy swing. Pressing B allows you to roll which gives a brief invincibility against attack, and holding ZL and A allows you to use various spells that you will learn as you travel, from a magical energy arc and a simple fireball. While the fight is so simple, it’s fun and extremely flowing, and encounters with enemies are less about how strong you are and more about how well you learn to deal with certain types of enemy. Combat skills can be improved in the level hub by using souls from slain enemies to increase your attack, speed or magic stats. There is no massive penalty for dying; You will keep all the souls you collected after death and you will reappear at the door of the area. What is a little frustrating about death is that there is a long loading screen between each one, which I found a little frustrating when I was in the middle of a lengthy run trying to unlock the next shortcut.

Speaking of shortcuts, the level design in Death’s Door is built heavily around them, with many areas being essentially zigzag paths that lead to unlocking shortcuts to provide a quick route back to where you died . These are the areas in which Death’s Door is best and focuses more on combat than exploration. The areas that are more like the dungeons of something like Zelda are still very good, but they are specifically affected by my other problem with the game: the lack of a map of any kind. That doesn’t ruin the experience itself – none of them is as big as a traditional dungeon – but it got frustrating when I ended a session in the middle of a dungeon and came back hours later after forgetting where I had or hadn’t been. It’s a bit of a frustration, but in places like the Mushroom Dungeon it felt like the game had been greatly improved with the ability to display a dungeon map.

Overall, these are the only real problems I’ve encountered during my time at Death’s Door. Probably one of the best action games of 2021, it stands out for its wonderfully varied areas to explore. The soundtrack is fantastic too, with composer David Fenn able to strike a perfect balance between energetic action and peaceful contemplation. Not to mention the crow you are controlling is just a cute little bird. If you’re a fan of action games and you fancy one that will kill around 8 hours, Death’s Door is a pretty good place to log in and get to work.

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