I love a new, interesting Indie game. Some of the coolest new ideas and most entertaining games come out of the lower budget independent space, rather than from big budget AAA games. Devolver Digital has built its name on publishing weird and wonderful indie games, with plenty of massive hits under the belt like Fall Guys, Hotline Miami and Carrion. That hit rate doesn’t look like dropping anytime soon, with the upcoming release of Death’s Door, an exciting isometric action-RPG with a certain corvus theme. Recently, I had the opportunity to go hands-on with the game’s first chapter, and now Death’s Door is one of my most anticipated releases of the year.
In Death’s Door you take control of an unnamed Crow with an interesting job. In line with certain mythologies, Crows aren’t just intelligent birds. Instead, they’re the reapers of dead souls. Early on, the game advises you that Crows age while completing their assigned job, and that a job isn’t done until you’ve reaped the assigned soul. So, of course, a stranger appears early on in the game and steals your assigned soul from in front of you. This kicks off your adventure, as you fight through the world to find this stranger and begin to learn more about what’s happening. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that not everything is as it seems. The mystery of the story had me hooked immediately and I found myself flying through the content of the preview at a breakneck page, eager to get every morsel I could from it. What I loved most though, was the game’s characters. While there weren’t many introduced in my time with the game, each felt unique and filled with personality. My personal favourite was the seemingly immortal grave digger, whose sole wish in life is to finally be able to die.
The world of Death’s Door is perhaps its best element. Its areas are large, with plenty of space to explore and meaningful rewards to find. I was finding new, totally missable and optional weapons foe example or heapings of currency used to improve my abilities. I never felt at a disadvantage if I didn’t find these items, but they were meaningful enough to keep me interested in searching for then. The best way I can think of to describe the game’s art style is ‘clean’. There is plenty of detail to the world, but everything looks incredibly clean and sleek. What stood out the most though, was the game’s soundtrack. I found myself stopping to sit in the world and just listen to the music as it flowed in. It changed depending on the area and what was happening on screen, but much of the music was incredibly atmospheric and set the tone perfectly. Obviously there’s still a lot more game left, but there’s no doubt that these early heapings of world, visuals and music left me excited for more.
Most of your time in the game is spent in combat, which probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. The game plays out like many other isometric style action-rpgs, with a focus on melee combat and ranged/magical attacks limited in use, expert dodging and pattern recognition. Rushing in is liable to get you killed, with the Crow being a relatively fragile specimen, so instead the game is all about learning to read your enemies attacks and choosing the opportune moment to strike. You’ll frequently face off against multiple enemy types at once, so recognising the biggest threats and strategically picking them off is key. Boss and mini-boss encounters are similar, albeit with a much higher difficulty level. Mechanically, everything felt incredibly responsive, so there were never any moments where I felt like the controls were fighting against me. I walked away with a very healthy appreciation of the combat.
Overall, what I played was a good two-ish hours of the game, and I absolutely loved my time with it. There’s always a chance that a game will gradually worsen through its entirety, but I’m optimistic that Death’s Door will be an absolutely fantastic experience throughout. I highly recommend keeping an eye out at we get closer to the game’s launch.
Death’s Door was previewed on a Windows PC with a preview key provided by the publisher. The game will also be available on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S when it releases on July 20th. For more information, check the official website.