By now you’ve probably heard, read and seen all the hype about Death’s Door, the latest indie hit published by Devolver Digital and created by Acid Nerve, that has you exploring through a vast assortment of dangerous lands as a soul reaping crow on a quest to open the aforementioned Death’s Door in order to retrieve a stolen soul. Of course, as with any good adventure, there’s a number of devilishly difficult bosses to fight your way past, and I wanted to take but a brief moment of your time to heap a serving of praise upon them (be wary, spoilers do indeed follow).
I’ve already mentioned in my review that Death’s Door has a sprinkling of The Legend of Zelda within its code, of adventuring into the wilderness, solving puzzles and overcoming challenges in the traditional sense of the long running franchise. One thing that Acid Nerve’s own creation gets oh so right, just as Nintendo continually manage to achieve in their own special way, is the eclectic mix of bosses that greet you at the end of every unique are you find yourself in. From an old woman who experiments with pots and humans (long story), to a giant toad who thinks himself king, these rather larger than life creations serve as the major souls you’ll have to defeat and collect in order to unlock the door that blocks your way.
Each one presents itself with a unique pattern to dissect in order to dodge and slash your way through them cleanly enough and, given for most of the game you’ll only be able to take four attacks before depleting your health bar, there will be plenty of attempts needed to figure them out just right. There’s a small level of frustration that comes with that, and that’s fair enough given anything with a solid amount of difficulty attached to it, but each fight felt both rewarding and relieving to complete. But those three battles (the third of which has you fighting the equivalent of a yeti) pale in comparison to the last two major fights of Death’s Door’s story.
With all three souls collected, you’ll finally unlock the all-important door and step inside where, to your crow’s surprise, you’ll find the one true Grim Reaper waiting, explaining that he’s been locked away by the Lord of Doors and there’s nothing at all within the empty void awaiting anyone who steps inside. This sadly tips our elder crow friend over the edge into a monstrous madness, something that’s explained not long prior as to what happens if you live too long past your expected mortality, and what follows is a bleak yet beautiful battle in the void itself.
There’s no borders, arena or environment at all to speak of here, just a vast empty white space that our former friend dashes, slingshots and runs through in an attempt to end your own life, contrasted by the larger birds unwieldy black feathers and your own arsenal of weapons that largely splash red across the screen. It’s a genuinely impactful moment, something I wasn’t expecting given how colourful and at times outlandish the prior fights had been. There’s nothing left of our old friend, barely muttering a word both during the fight nor at its demise, only screeching violently to call upon its own weaponry in anger.
You’ll hear much about Death’s Door and its wonderful use of colour and character designs through-out its story, and no doubt most reviews and articles will talk about how comfortable it all feels to play (I said much the same myself), but this fight alone is the thing that sold this game to me. I enjoyed my experience all the way through, but the reveal not only of the Reaper and the fight that followed reiterated the intelligence and creativity of the development team. I’d go so far to say it’s the best boss battle of the entire game … but the final fight is a real doozy too.
The Lord of Doors awaits you at the end, having been revealed as the one who betrayed the Reaper in the hope of being the one true Lord, never wanting to end his reign nor die at all. The battle splits itself into multiple stages, your standard multi-part fights interspersed with a handful of platforming stages that will have you using the hookshot quite quickly in order to avoid being trampled by all manner of environmental hazards the Lord of Doors will throw at you (namely doors stuck to the front of some not so nice bull like creatures). You’ll eventually find yourself back at the agency for the final true fight, in which the Lord tries just about every trick in the book along with a handful of moves prior bosses used on you. I can safely say I died a lot at this final point, quite a lot really, but as with any good boss it’s all about learning from your mistakes and playing things patiently, which you’ll want to do here in order to deal the final blow.
There’s further hidden battles and mini-bosses that litter each unique area of Death’s Door, from a walking castle to a straight up reference to a Dark Souls boss, but I can’t stress enough how well orchestrated these main fights really are, especially the penultimate and final showdowns. Combined with its creative visual aesthetics and clean controls, they are some of if not the best boss fights I’ve ever had the pleasure of dodging and dying from, and I implore you to give them a go yourself so you can understand my admiration.
Reaping souls of the dead and punching a clock might get monotonous but it’s honest work for a Crow. The job gets lively when your assigned soul is stolen and you must track down a desperate thief to a realm untouched by death.