One of the best indie games of the year
The door of death is by far one of the best indie games of the year. As someone who grew up playing classic 2D, isometric, and action-adventure titles on Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, and a host of other platforms, there is a certain comfort to this game. and its structure which I did not expect. While The door of death doesn’t reinvent the wheel, the way it combines ideas from a number of different popular games that came before it is very effective and makes it stand out in an already crowded indie space.
Overall, the best comparison with The door of death would be something like that The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. After being introduced to his world in the first hour or so, The door of death leaves you to lose the task of finding three souls which will give you the opportunity to open the titular door. Each soul is hidden in a different part of this world, each containing a different theme, motif, and pattern. You will also meet an always intriguing group of characters as you walk through all of these lands.
Exploration is one of the strongest aspects of The door of death and the game really encourages you to think outside the box as often as possible to find new objects. Much like a Metroidvania title, you will come across certain areas or structures within The door of death that you won’t be able to interact with right away. However, by returning later with the right abilities or gear, you will be able to explore these places more and possibly be rewarded with something unique. This structure and concept as a whole is not unique to The door of death, but I also think in-game exploration never felt too bloated. If you are someone who enjoys getting 100% completion in titles like this then The door of death doesn’t make it too complicated to do.
In terms of gameplay, most of the The door of death will see you hack and fight your way through a number of enemies. While it may seem simple, the game makes up for the relatively routine nature of combat by giving you a number of different weapons to use. Each of these weapons will have their own advantages and disadvantages, allowing you to find the one that best suits your own playstyle. Whereas most games of this style only give you a single static weapon similar to a sword to use, I really appreciated the opportunity to mix things up.
The door of death Also contains a number of side items that you can use as well, which is where the combat starts to take a bit more depth. Your main character can use a bow, bombs, fire spell, and grappling hook against enemies. Assuming you explore enough, each of these skills can be improved, making their usefulness even better. As the game progressed, I really started to appreciate how tactfully each of these skills could be used. The fire spell, in particular, became a personal favorite thanks to the way it could consistently deal damage over time.
Boss fights don’t happen too often in The door of death, but the ones shown are a real pleasure to play. Unlike most games of this style, I actually think boss fights are where combat shines the most. They really test your ability to dodge, attack in a timely manner, and use all of the tools in your kit appropriately. In view of the poor health that you often have in The door of death, I enjoyed the challenge that these boss fights offered.
Speaking more of the characters I mentioned above, part of what makes the cast inside The door of death so strong is the writing of the game. Although there is a somewhat sinister tone on all The door of death, the dark nature is more than offset by the ironic writing of the game that we see with most of the characters. You will meet a grave keeper who actively wants to die, a giant frog who considers himself a king, and a man who literally calls himself “Pothead”, to name a few. Almost everyone you interact with in The door of death is casual in a way, which makes for a lot of unexpected fun.
Above all, the one thing that keeps sticking to me long after I’m done The door of death is the soundtrack. I’m a fan of good video game music, and for my money The door of death could have the best original score of any game so far in 2021. Beyond being good music on its own, what this game’s soundtrack does so well is set the tone for every area. So many pieces find a way to perfectly balance being weird, lonely, eerie, and beautiful at the same time. It may be strange to say that one of my favorite qualities of The door of death was the music, but I really can’t stress how great the score is.
If you’re looking for something small to dig deeper into ahead of this fall’s biggest releases, The door of death is a game to definitely have on your radar. Whether you are a fan of old school adventure games or just looking for a remarkable new indie game, The door of death absolutely worth your time, money, and attention.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The door of death is available to play now and is available on the Xbox Series X / S, Xbox One, and PC platforms. A review code has been provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review and the game has been played on the Xbox Series X platform.