There are some games that catch your eye and immediately find a spot in your brain to latch onto. That game for me this year has been Death’s Door since its first reveal earlier this year. After playing to first three hours of the game I can easily say that this game is not one to be written off.

Knock Knock Knocking On Death's Door | Hands-on Preview

The world of Death’s Door is bleak, filled with black and grey Pantone juxtaposed against the glowing red sword of your character. Tasked with claiming the souls of the dead and bringing them to the world of the dead, you are a humble hunter ready to begin your journey. 

While the land of the dead is cold, grey, clerical, and calculated, the world of the living is filled with vibrant color and without surprise, teeming with life way past its expiration date.

After the soul you’re assigned to claim is stolen,  you’re sent on a mission to take down three different boss characters, each with their own zone and puzzles to solve. The preview build took me through the Ceramic Mansion, a gaudy and cluttered manor owned by the old witch. 

As I made my way through the Ceramic Manor I never knew what was around each corner. Difficult enemies line the hallways, like a black ooze creature in a pot that ran at me and exploded, taking large chunks of my health away before even getting to the other enemies in the room.

Healing in Death's Door is an interesting mechanic. Instead of having a potion, or refillable item, you find seeds around the world and then have to plant them in pots scattered across the world. Healing is a choice. Do you spend your resources to heal now, or see if you can make it further without it. 

I didn't find too many of the seeds I needed to heal, so it was also having me make the tough choice of spending the seed when I could, or waiting. 

While combat is a heavy focus, puzzle-solving is equally important. Shooting flaming arrows to light lanterns, breaking pots to uncover secrets, and even looking at the reflection of surfaces for clues all lead to interesting puzzle design in Death’s Door.

I was constantly being faced with new and interesting puzzle concepts in my time with the game. Of course, solving puzzles is only one factor in the equation of Death’s Door. 

Fighting in this game is fast, fluid, and tactical. Learning your enemy’s attack patterns and weaknesses is crucial to your survival. 

Oozing style out of every Corner, Death’s Door strikes a rich balance between readability and aesthetic. From the desk-filled world of the door to the stylized Death screen when you perish in battle. It all feels consistent with the world crafted around it.

Visual clues help solve puzzles, tell a story, and immerse the player in the role of a hunter. Learning your environment and how to use it to your advantage, whether that be adequately spacing your enemies for a bow shot, or dodging out of the way to bash an enemy into a wall, all makes sense contextually. 

You’ll face hulking boss fights, meet a quirky cast of characters like Pothead, a humanoid whose head has been replaced with, you guessed it, a pot, and fight your way to retrieve the souls of the dead.

It’s a mighty task for a young Crow, but you’re given more than enough tools for the job. Starting out with a simple sword and bow, you’ll soon find new weapons like the Rogue Daggers, which cut fast and quick, or the ability to shoot a fireball. 

Death’s Door may borrow some inspiration from games like The Legend of Zelda and Dark Souls, but it has created something entirely its own.

I look forward to seeing more from this game when it releases on Xbox and PC on July 20, 2021.