Death’s Door is a Zeldalike. I had that word in brackets, intending to replace it with something else, but I couldn’t find an appropriate replacement, so it stays. You play a small crow working for the Souls Commission. Things happen, and now you have to go places and kill the monsters who live there.
Death’s Door is fine, but it’s not good enough for me to really want to recommend it. It doesn’t do any single thing wrong, but it also never really felt like it did anything super special or unique. It has good moments, but after playing for 10 hours, my primary memory is one of frustration with the controls, and a few cool boss fights.
You’ll go from area to area, solving puzzles, and combat gauntlets, and finally getting to a boss who has to be defeated. These areas are fairly linear with a bit of back tracking. As far as I could tell, there were no real branching pathways, but there were a fair number of hidden areas.
The game just never felt that special though. There are a bunch of weapons, but only one really feels like it changes up how attacks work. Of the four spells you get, three felt just like the same projectile with different charge time. The puzzles were never quite challenging. The combat gauntlets were fine, but the longer non-gauntlet sections often ended up feeling tedious. The upgrades that you can buy are purely numerical, and never felt all that special or meaningful.
The full boss fights are, with a single exception, my favorite part of the game. They’re fast paced, bombastic with incredible art, and don’t overstay their welcome. Or at least most of them are. There was a single fight that drove me absolutely insane, and did a great job of illustrating my biggest problem with the game: the controls.
Death’s Door does not feel like it was meant to be played with a mouse and keyboard. I’m not sure how to illustrate this outside of giving an overly long explanation, so here goes:
Your movement is controlled with WASD. You can also swing your weapon with left click, use a spell with right click, and charge a heavy attack with middle mouse. (I never incorporated the heavy attack into my patterns, it was just too inconvenient.) You dodge with spacebar.
The problem is with how directionality works. Since you move with WASD, you can only move in 8 directions, and moving anything that isn’t up/down/left/right requires you to hold down two keys at once. Attacking, however, uses targeting from your mouse, and specifically where your mouse is relative to your little crow. Dodging, however, uses the direction that you’re facing at any given point in time. In addition, the camera isn’t permanently centered, which means that if it moves to keep a boss in frame, you can find yourself swinging in the wrong direction because the camera moved, and moved your mouse relative to your player. I often found myself dodging into an attack I was trying to avoid, or missing attacks because I lost track of where my mouse was relative to my crow.
This is my biggest actual problem with the game. While there were some minor technical issues with text boxes and pop-ins on various objects, I suspect these were caused by the fact that I was playing on an ultrawide monitor more than any actual technical failing.
The one thing I really do want to praise about the game is the art. There are some incredibly beautiful moments, mostly with the boss enemy design. The world itself is striking, even if it’s not always obviously impressive.
So that’s Death’s Door. A solid Zeldalike with incredible art, a few clever moments of world building, great boss fights, but also with janky controls, and a generally sort of humdrum feel for the other parts.
If you’re absolutely craving a game with simple Zelda-esque gameplay though, you could probably do worse. It’s available on pretty much every standard console, and for PC on Good Old Games, Steam, and the Epic Games store.