It’s not everyday that you get a Zelda-like adventure game where you play as a bird reaping souls, but the devs behind Titan Souls have done just that.
Alright so you ever get that feeling where you are playing a game and just think “wow, this is a well-made game”? Maybe it is just because I review a ton of games, but that was what I felt with Death’s Door not even an hour into it. The graphics, combat, exploration, enemy designs – it all just works and has such a high degree of polish to it that you can immediately tell that this was something with passion behind it – something the devs really worked at.
Take the combat for example. On the surface, it seems simplistic given it’s mostly two or three button gameplay. However, as you progress, you get new weapons, new abilities, and new upgrades that really expand on this base without compromising its ease of play. Dodging is responsive, attacks are both fluid and provide ample feedback, and the mix of weapons and abilities provides a good bit of room to adapt to your specific play style. You can go daggers for those fast, rapid attacks before dodging away from an enemy or maybe the hammer, which is slower, but imbued with lightning that can chain to nearby enemies.
Swapping can be done at any time from the inventory, so you can just as easily adapt to situations as they come – some bosses I preferred one weapon over another, for example. Throughout all of this though, I never got the feeling that something was missing that should have landed, that an enemy’s attacks were unfairly telegraphed, or that my movement or attacks were clunky. As I said before, it just kinda works and only gets faster and more varied as you progress.
In this way, the difficulty curve is actually pretty well-managed. You start with your basic sword and enemies that have only one attack and eventually progress to bigger enemies with unique attack patterns and even multi-stage boss fights. The difficulty ramps up steadily as you progress, but make no mistake, this is not a game you can easily breeze through. A couple of the boss fights in particular took me upwards of ten or so retries – so there is a nice sense of challenge there.
But of course, combat is only half the equation in an adventure game like this. Exploration is just as important and again, something that Death’s Door does well – although not without some issues. It is one of those games where you can get to the end credits, but still have missed out on a third or so of the content simply because there are a bunch of secrets to find. Some of these are simple collectibles, but there’s also various upgrades and even new weapons.
The level design is cleverly done to aid in all of this, hiding away little pathways or entrances that you can easily miss if you are not really looking. I liked this aspect of the level design, but I was not a fan of the lack of any sort of map. Some people might enjoy that, but it is never fun to hit a switch and unlock a door somewhere, but not remember where that door is and how to get back to it. The levels can be very mazelike (especially the jungle), so this happened to me quite a few times.
I was also not the biggest fan of how the game relied on gauntlet-style enemy fights more heavily towards the end. The first level in the Witch’s manor has this near-perfect balance of enemy encounters, puzzles, and light storytelling, but the last level will quite literally string together like five or six enemy encounters back-to-back – like the game was trying to pad for length at that point. I mean, yeah, the combat is still fun, but it leaned a bit too heavily in one direction there.
And on the topic of length – I should note that it took me six hours to clear the game with just over 70% full completion. Getting that to 100% would likely take another four or so hours, so it is not a long game by any means. Rather, the length kinda fits this type of gameplay and storytelling – it is just long enough to get its message across (albeit, a simple one), only dragging a bit towards the end.
The story is a bit of a mixed bag. It is not super-heavy with dialogue and cutscenes and all that, but it is not completely invisible either. You get your bits of dialogue, lore, and even some unexpected developments, but do not go into it expecting to be blown away or anything. The overall tone felt like it was aimed at a younger audience, so I think it’s fine for what it is.
And before I close out the review, I gotta mention performance. On my 1070 Ti, it was practically flawless running at 1440p and hovering around 130 or so fps. I did not run into any crashes, freezing, or even bugs. Again, it’s a very polished experience – both gameplay and technically. I played with an Xbox controller, but the keyboard and mouse controls are actually pretty good from what I tested – so either option would work and both are completely rebindable on top of that.
Death’s Door is not only a fun Zelda-like adventure game, but a very well-polished one on top of that. Fluid combat, tight controls, plenty of exploration – it has all the basics on lock and is a worthwhile recommendation if you’re looking for a shorter, six or so hour experience. It may have its hiccups, but I definitely enjoyed my time with it and will be keeping the soundtrack on standby for the next several months.
Quote: Death’s Door is not only a fun Zelda-like adventure game, but a very well-polished one on top of that. Fluid combat, tight controls, plenty of exploration – it has all the basics on lock.
Death’s Door retails for $20 USD on Steam, but you can get an official Steam key for 15% off using my Gamesplanet partner link. This also applies to the deluxe edition. The game is also available on GOG, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox One.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.