Door of death don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s a creepy game, full of oxymoron, tragedy, and really funny moments. It is the star of a god of death, a being that collects the dead and sends them to the afterlife. The reaper is also a lovely, small crow. In the first area of the game, lovely, small nature spirits gather around the crow and follow it around. The first region’s first boss battle is against a huge, power-packed factory.
Though filled with opposites, there’s one constant about this game: It’s incredibly fun.
Door of death is an action-adventure game developed by Acid Nerve and published by Devolver Digital. As part of a later E3 rollout, I followed up with a four-hour demo. I accidentally played through the entire preview in one sitting.
The opening moments of Door of death extremely humble. I was introduced to the petite bird character I was going to inhabit, as well as the grim afterlife where I essentially operated as a free spirit collector. I was tasked with recovering a giant soul that had been swollen by power.
This massive soul claim is the game’s first real battle, and it happens within 10 minutes of the game’s start. The owner of the soul is a giant plant that attacks with spinning vines, it stabs and spins around a small arena. To claim the soul, the player only has some tools. They can perform basic attacks, increase attack speed, dodge or fire a magical projectile.
That didn’t seem like much until I figured out how much I could actually do with those few tools. Dodging is extremely quick, and the combat ends up becoming a “how many hits can I hit before I get knocked down myself?” game? While retreating, the player can do ranged attacks, but weapons only have four hits. That is, unless you hit an enemy, as each hit recharges one use. Once you have Door of death against, the question is less of “how do I avoid getting damaged?” and more “how do I deal with as much damage as possible?”
The battle didn’t go exactly as planned. The giant soul was stolen by another elderly crow, one whose target had fled into the Doors of Death, locking themselves in. The crow, unable to return home as time goes on, has aged and cannot gather the other giant souls needed to achieve its goal. Now in the same predicament, the player must claim three giant souls and bring them to the portal.
Before finding the old crow, I ventured through the Lost Cemetery, which serves as the main area of the game in its early hours. It’s a harsh location, full of smaller enemies that reward players with souls that can be used to upgrade abilities. The cemetery is filled with forked roads, locked gates, and secrets. Door of death very similar to Metroidvania in this sense – it encourages exploration and re-visiting areas when you have more possibilities.
The cemetery is also chock full of details, a trait that continues into the rest of the game, or at least its demo. Graveyards fill large parts of the area, enshrining large and gigantic creatures, and some of these tombs foretell future battles or enemies. Every place I go, the environment tells a story or explains some part of the world with a little more detail.
While my experience with Door of death so far so good, it’s great that i get to the first real boss zone that belongs to the Hedgehog Witch. The Witch isn’t just a villain with no motives; She is a completely different character. She thought that by stuffing people’s heads in jars, they might be able to avoid a spot on Death’s ledger. So every enemy in this area is in a pot of some sort. There was even a friendly knight who wore a vase on his head instead of one. His name is Pothead, of course, which is one of the best character introductions I’ve seen in a game. Door of death continually creates this charm, making nearly every interaction with the characters, whether they are friendly or not, a memorable act.
While the boss fight against the Witch of Urns is spectacular in and of itself, it’s getting to her that’s the real thing. I fight my way through her mansion, a vast expanse filled with dining rooms, bedrooms, and portraits of other leading figures. It is clear that at one point this was a living, loving home.
I descend into the mansion’s basement, a vast network of tunnels and laboratories. Here, I was introduced to my first power, which allowed me to shoot fireballs. With this ability, I’ve lit up furnaces that power the pistons, raise and lower, in turn, all to the beat of the game’s music. If you haven’t started yet, Door of death does not keep its ideas segmented and detached; they build on each other on all aspects of the game in a great way.
When I first started playing Door of death I compared it with Hades. Not because its combat is similar, but because it’s an indie title with incredible potential behind it. Door of death fun, with intense battles that made me pop when defeating a boss. Its world is rich, and its story mysterious, with so much more revealed in the hours I played than I expected.
Door of death will be released on PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S on July 20, and that date can’t come anytime soon.