In the dark and somber world of Death’s Door, reaping souls and sending them into the afterlife is no abnormal job for a humble crow like you. After one of your assignments goes horribly wrong, you are plunged into a mysterious realm where you find Death’s Door and are tasked with reaping three giant souls in order to unlock it.
Although a simple concept, it sets up the premise for an amazing dungeon crawler intertwined with awesome lore and tied off with a melancholy but charming aesthetic like no other.
I am TheNeverYak, and this is your Nindie Spotlight for today: Death’s Door!
Conflict with Crows
Despite the simplicity of the concept, Death’s Door has no shortage of challenging gameplay to offer. Before fighting each of the main bosses, the player will have to make their way through three distinctly different areas, which will blend compelling combat with head-scratching puzzles and always keep the player engaged. When playing, you’ll find yourself always keeping an eye out for hidden secrets. For example: there are four weapons to find throughout the world on top of your starter, each with pros and cons surrounding factors such as speed and range.
“Gluts” of soul energy can be used to purchase upgrades back in the commission where all the doors leading to and from previously visited areas will be accessible, allowing you to backtrack once you are a more experienced player. These upgrades allow you to improve your strength, dexterity, haste, and magic for increasingly higher costs as you progress. They’re simple improvements but highly effective, keeping the player from getting caught up in unnecessarily complex ability trees.
The extra weapons and ability upgrades aren’t essential, however there are 4 abilities that the player will need to acquire in order to both progress and pick up collectibles in previous parts of the game. A bow and arrow (which you start off the game with), a flame spell (used for both lighting fire pits in puzzles and in combat), a bomb spell (for breaking down walls and, again, combat), and a grappling hook (which is pretty self explanatory). All together, these elements create a strong mix of gameplay mechanics to work with, and I found the abilities straight forward and quick to switch between with the Nintendo Switch controls.
A Charming Grim Reaper
As well as fantastic gameplay, Death’s Door consistently excels with world building, especially through its use of art and music. Each area has a unique visual style and colour palate, so I was always keen to push forward and see where the game would take me next. Death’s Door also has one of the most stand out and emotive original soundtracks I’ve heard in a game for a while, which really contributes to the game’s stand out ability to set the mood of a gorgeously melancholy world.
A World Long Past Its Prime
Of course, what would any game truly be without its lore? On top of the previously mentioned collectables, you can keep an eye out for “shiny things”, trinkets littered around the world that will reveal fragments of the deeper story. Some of these can even be used to unlock further secret encounters, so be sure to look out carefully for them.
All throughout the game, your crow character will come across quirky NPCs each with something to add to the story and essentially the world itself. My personal favourite of them all is The Gravedigger, who helps souls pass into the afterlife and will always appear after a challenging boss fight and crush your sense of victory by making you feel guilty about the murder you’ve just committed. What a nice guy.
Now, I don’t want to spoil anything, but as you reach the close of Death’s Door, one nice cutscene and a few cool boss fights lead to such a massive dump of lore, my jaw literally dropped as all the pieces slid into place and it came to light just how carefully and perfectly the developers have set up the game for such a satisfying conclusion. This all led to me finishing not with unanswered questions and plot holes, but with a nagging curiosity to analyse what I knew and learn even more.
Death’s Door takes a fascinating approach on the balance of life and death itself, not just in a fantasy sense, but in the way it’s viewed even now in the real world. The world design, the music, the sense of exploration, everything just adds to the entire sad but beautiful atmosphere of the game. I even found it to be reminiscent of well-loved indie master pieces such as Hollow Knight.
With a sword in one hand, taking on a world of monsters refusing to die, I don’t think there’s any stranger way to think about death.
There is your Nindie Spotlight on Death’s Door. Check back again next time for a look into another great Nindie title. What are some of your favorite indie games? Let us know in the comments below! Thank you for visiting Nintendo Link. Happy gaming, everyone.