GGRecon's Best Indie Games of 2021: Death's Door
Sadly, when it comes to indie games, there are very few instant success stories. Super Meat Boy and Braid positively popped off upon launch, showing a whole generation of gamers that indies deserve the love and attention of AAA blockbusters, and in recent years the explosion of the likes of Fall Guys and Among Us has shown that the internet is the key to success that the industry was so desperate for all this time.
It's not just sheer popularity, either - Hades' critical success has aided the game in ways beyond comprehension, proving that small teams absolutely have the mettle to contend with the big boys on the world's stage.
The latter is remarkably rare - a game that can be so good that the reverberation from its critical reception makes the game a financial success as well as a critical one. 2021 was more than willing to provide one this year - in the shape of an impressive game made by a two-man team.
Death's Door: Reaping & Sowing
In Death's Door, you assume the role of a crow who works as a Reaper at the Reaping Commission Headquarters, responsible for filing the paperwork and performing the necessary actions to allow the inhabitants of the game's world to cross over into death. But, some creatures simply refuse to cave to mortality, and you're sent out on missions to make sure they get into their graves one way or another. When your soul is trapped behind the grim Death's Door, you'll go on a mission to get it back and take out some baddies along the way.
It's a charming concept on the backdrop of something familiar - but by no means is this a bad thing. The game's built around the traditional top-down dungeon-crawling popularised by The Legend of Zelda and succeeded in 2020 by Hades, but what Death's Door lacks in sheer innovation, it makes up for in mastery of the craft.
Death's Door: The Other Side
The gameplay of Death's Door is swift and snappy, with plenty of charming NPCs with humour drier than the Sahara to keep you entertained. The game has a consistently sombre atmosphere that's often broken by moments of fleeting glee, while its gameplay remains exciting enough to keep you trudging through the game's world.
Bosses are a real challenge, and many enemy encounters will throw you off - but it all comes together to make you fight harder and smarter with the next battle. The game's fighting is high-risk, high-reward, and each toppled boss comes with unmatched satisfaction.
Death's Door is a special example of a small team absolutely nailing what they set out to do. Acid Nerve has proven that the Zelda-like is putty in their hands. Now, we wait to see what's next.