While it may be difficult to think of cosmic entities suffering from real-world problems, it’s still a popular idea for fiction. This is what Magic Design Studios has put into Have A Nice Death. This is a 2D roguelite hack-and-slash affair set in one version of the spiritual world. It incorporates platforming with faced-paced combat and arenas. It’s level-based allowing you to choose which departments you go to and what kind of things you can encounter based on the path you take. It may look like a cartoon affair, but don’t let that distract you from the game’s real challenge.
Why Should You Have A Nice Death?
Death has appeared in numerous contexts and has proven to be a common figure in afterlife fiction. Such is the story of Have A Nice Death. After centuries of reaping souls all by himself, Death decided to build a company to make it easier. However, as humans evolved and became more numerous, so too did his company get bigger. He outsourced reaping to powerful demons known as the Sorrows who head up different departments revolving around the causes of death. As a result, Death became buried in paperwork and started to lose his powers despite being the CEO. Learning that the Sorrows are taking control of his operations and wanting to escape from behind his desk, Death takes up his scythe to have appointments with all of his managers.
If you can make a game about the concept of death enjoyable, you’ve definitely got talent. This shines through in Have A Nice Death. First, is the graphical style and presentation. The art is going for a hand-drawn, almost cartoon show kind of look and it works well. Despite having overall shades and filters depending on the location, it sells the idea that you’re not only in the afterlife but in a soul-crushing business in the afterlife. The highlights come from the character designs and animations. Death looks good, but the enemies and bosses look even more colorful and dynamic which kind of serves as a metaphor for them sucking the life out of Death.
The gameplay is sharp just like the scythe that death wields. Like with any roguelite game, you want to have sharp and fluid movements which are obvious from Death’s physicality. He’s constantly floating having a slight slide to his movement. This, combined with the way that he jumps and dashes, really makes him look and feel like an ethereal being. With the limits of the 2D plane, you have to be more creative and strategic with the dash move. It’s instant and precise to allow you to remain extremely mobile. When it comes to combat, Death has very defined swing speeds and arcs depending on the type of Scythe that he’s wielding. Each hit, quick or heavy, has a huge amount of impact. As Death, it’s satisfying to destroy enemies and take down bosses with quick hits and combos.
The Spice of Life
When talking about roguelite games, you have to give attention to variety. With this game, there is so much to take in and discover. Starting with the Scythe, there are five main models that all suit different play styles. They each have their own animations and special attacks to play around with and appreciate. In addition, Death has a huge arsenal of magic attacks that range from creating poisonous gas clouds to grabbing and stunning enemies from a range. He also gains access to a huge range of secondary weapons to give him a greater range and more power. Not to mention that everything that you find can be upgraded to make it even more devastating.
Of course, can’t do this justice without mentioning the Curses. It’s always nice to introduce a little risk when building a character for a run. With Death, you can give him curses that give him a nice little boost or ones with bigger boosts that come with a drawback. They can include passive bonuses such as raising a defense or active ones like infusing your main attack with lightning bolts. Everything you find can help you become the best Death that you can be.
Not Exactly Nice
Death is a serious subject that is a natural part of life but also comes with a lot of downsides. Have A Nice Death can’t avoid having a few downsides of its own. The largest one is the sense of emptiness. Even though this takes place in Death’s company in the afterlife, there’s just not a lot around. Each level you visit is a mix of platforms, arenas, and breakable doors. However, that’s pretty much it. Sometimes exploration can lead you to a few hidden goodies and secrets, but other times it leads to absolutely nothing except a waste of time. Some paths are so roundabout that you wonder why they would even be in the RNG rotation.
Then there’s the tricky issue of messy combat. Whenever you reach a new level or area, you get a chance to fight different enemies individually so you can get a sense of what to expect. This changes once you encounter an arena which is usually an open area that lets enemies spawn from wherever. Usually, it’s okay, but there are some enemies that are so chaotic with wild attacks that it’s always easy to see where the danger is coming from. It becomes even worse when a big number of enemies spawn together and overlap in a small arena. At that point, you should make your way to any free space you can and hope you avoid the first hit.
Well, Have A Nice Death
Have A Nice Death is a 2D roguelite about Death trying to get his groove and company back from the demons that have taken it over. It looks good, it feels good, it’s fun, and challenging, and with so much variety. The levels can feel empty and enemies can pile on top of each other creating a cluster muck, but such is the corporate world. If you clock in, grab a coffee, scythe, and have a nice death.