Deaths Door review Nintendo Switch Acid Nerve Devolver Digital Death's Door

Earlier this year, I was quite jealous of Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. The reason was Death’s Door, an indie game I was dying to review. Luckily, the title from publisher Devolver Digital and developer Acid Nerve is releasing on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 and 5 today. Now, I’ve had my chance to review Death’s Door on Switch and ended up really enjoying the morbid / funny adventure.

Collecting souls for the daily work grind

Death’s Door has quite an interesting setup. You play as a small crow who reaps souls for the Reaping Commissions Headquarters, a drab, office-like setting devoid of color. During your first assignment, you defeat a giant monster to lay claim to its soul. Unfortunately, an older crow steals the soul from you. After tracking down the bird, you learn there might be a conspiracy involving the disappearance of other crows. He implores you to find three “Giant Souls” in order to open the titular Death’s Door and uncover the truth.

It must be said — the characters in Death’s Door are so fun and full of life. They crack jokes, morbid and otherwise. One is a giant squid using a cadaver as a means of communication who gives you hints about hidden areas. There is someone cursed with a pot for a head. And there is a gravedigger who always pays respects to the dead, regardless of their lot in life. They all kept me entertained throughout the journey.

Deaths Door review Nintendo Switch Acid Nerve Devolver Digital Death's Door

Exploring is the name of the game

Playing through Death’s Door, I came to realize the title is heavily influenced by The Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls series. There is a nice array of weapons and sub-weapons, with the latter category being used to alter the environment and progress through the story (light braziers to open doors, explode bombs to shatter stone blockages, etc.). The main weapons you find present strategic usage. Do you go for the Rogue Daggers, which do less damage but attack at a blistering speed? Or do you perhaps take up the Thunder Hammer, sacrificing speed for a strike that does electric damage to all surrounding enemies?

One of the most fun aspects of Death’s Door is exploration. It is a treat to comb through the various environments that make up the game, which include a mansion, swamp, castle, and watchtower, among others. In-depth investigations reward the player. You can find Shiny Things to get 100% completion and decorate your office desk, pray at shrines to enhance your health and magic, and fight beings called Silent Servants to upgrade all your sub-weapons. There is a lot of stuff to discover.

Deaths Door review Nintendo Switch Acid Nerve Devolver Digital Death's Door

Battle like your life depends on it

Combat-wise, Death’s Door is no joke. Foes will surround you and come at you in waves, often not giving you much breathing room. Luckily, you have a dodge roll that has invincibility frames, so utilizing that in conjunction with your ranged and close-up attacks is the key to victory. You can also charge and perform dash attacks with your weapons, something to keep in mind while strategizing your battles. Hitting adversaries or surrounding objects replenishes your magic meter, which is what powers your sub-weapons, so being cognizant of that will help you win the day. There are no health potions, sadly, just small urns you can use to refill your health that are scattered around the locales. Expect to die a lot.

Speaking of fights, bosses are a particular delight. Prior to battles, they pop up as you explore their domains, admonishing you and allowing you to smash them in the face for fun. (This doesn’t help to decrease their health when you actually fight them, though.) The first “Giant Soul” you have to collect, belonging to the Witch of Urns, is a fun battle. There is a lot of dodging, knowing when to attack, and even a clever trick you can use to momentarily stun the baddie for extra damage. All other bosses are similarly engaging and well thought out.

Minor quibbles

As far as drawbacks, Death’s Door has a few. On Switch, the game chugs along at 30 FPS whether docked or in handheld, but the frames drop a bit when things get hectic. If you’ve seen what the title looks like on other platforms, you may opt for those versions and their silky smooth 60 FPS, though being able to play on the go is a worthy sacrifice for some. Areas are interconnected through the usage of shortcuts to make up for the lack of checkpoints, but there is no map. This becomes an issue because certain locations have samey-looking rooms, making knowing where to go sometimes difficult. And the game is tough, with no means to adjust the difficulty. Be prepared to get good if you want to experience the two endings.

Reap what you sow in Death’s Door on Switch

In the end, Death’s Door is a charming, witty indie game. Its combat is solid, exploration is a blast, and it has just the right length. Though the lack of a map and difficulty options, in addition to a somewhat unstable frame rate, hold the title back a bit, its mix of Dark Souls and Zelda elements is a great fit. It is definitely an adventure worth checking out.

Release Date: November 23, 2021
No. of Players: 1 player
Category: Action, Adventure, Arcade
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Acid Nerve

A Nintendo Switch review code for Death’s Door was provided by the publisher.

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Death's Door

8

Death's Door is a delightful action-adventure indie. It has a lot of heart, great combat, and fantastic exploration, though its difficulty and lack of a map can be off-putting.

Pros
  • Weapons and sub-weapons are satisfying to use
  • Thorough exploration is rewarded with power-ups and upgrades
  • Great writing and characters
Cons
  • Frame rate is not as high as on other platforms, with occasional hiccups
  • No map
  • Lack of difficulty options
Arthur Damian
Arthur Damian is a writer, editor, educator, and lover of video games. Based and living in Brooklyn, NY, he has been gaming since the age of five, from the NES to the Nintendo Switch. His favorite system is the SNES, his favorite game is Chrono Trigger, and you cannot convince him otherwise. He loves dogs, rainbow cookies, Spider-Man, and songs with intricate drum patterns. Arthur is also the Editor-in-Chief at That VideoGame Blog.

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