Game: Death Tales
Genre: Action, Platformer
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PS4, PS Vita and PC)
Developer|Publisher: Arcade Distillery
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Teen
Price: UK £7.99 | EU€ 9,99| US $9.99
Release Date: December 3rd, 2020
Review code provided with many thanks to Arcade Distillery
Death Tales is a 2D action platformer where you play as a little reaper who’s job is to harvest souls for Death. Only it doesn’t take long before the little reaper wants to go rogue and embark on a quest to take down various baddies and bosses in a plague infested world. It’s a straight forward tale presented in short and sweet cutscenes. You can choose to take on the adventure alone or a second player can jump in and play as your scarecrow buddy. A little reaper avoiding death, interesting. It’s a simple design that I wasn’t sure what to think about when first playing the game but as you dig in, its the small things about Death Tales that will keep some gamers engaged.
Hack and Scythe
The design of the game is pretty straight forward. You jump into levels with the goal being to simply reach the end. As you progress in each stage you will encounter a sizeable amount of baddies who need taking down with hack and slash combat. Sometimes you need to destroy all the enemies in a area in order to progress further. The game will also regularly mix in some platforming jumping over spikes, one hit kill pits and fires. After a few levels there’s usually a giant boss to defeat requiring some basic pattern recognition to conquer. Should you perish checkpoints are not too far away so you can pick off pretty swiftly from where you left off.
I really dug the graphic style. Enemies and characters feel metallic and animated in a sort of paper fashion that’s become quite popular in the indie scene. The environments and level design do an impressive job of creating a eerie world but while making it also somewhat beautiful with an impressive color pallet. For a game about a little reaper you will see a lot of vibrant colours.
Generally the game controls well. The jumping and movement felt solid and easy to use. I also liked how your little reaper could hang off ledges and didn’t suffer knock back damage meaning cheap deaths by falling into pits were avoided. What I felt mixed though about was the combat. The hack and slash gameplay feels kinda floaty. You have a variety of moves at your disposal to take out the baddies but for me I often just ran up to them and whacked my giant scythe by mashing the attack button until I won. Once defeated the enemies drop health and magic so I essentially repeated this formula over and over. It gets repetitive quite quickly and many of the enemies have more health that you would expect dragging the experience out longer than it feels it should do. The ideal way I found to enjoy Death Tales was in short bursts. Maybe a half hour here and there. That just seemed to starve off the experience from getting to stale too quickly.
Loot a Plenty
Death Tales does a pretty good job at keeping you engaged with a generous loot system. When you finish a level you get to choose from three rewards, usually a health or magic shard which will increase each meter if you collect 3 shards in total. One item up for reward is usually a piece of equipment like new armour, hat or scythe. Experimenting with various builds like this loot gave an incentive to replay levels to collect other rewards. You can also buy loot from shop assistance’s with yellow orbs, which you can collect by finishing the level and completing side quests. It was enjoyable to experiment with different builds of armour and weapons. Had this stuff not been present Death Tales would have felt like a pretty dull experience.
Don’t Fear the Reaper
While I started out feeling lukeworm on Death Tales the more I played it over short gaming sessions the more I enjoyed its loot mechanic and art style. The floaty combat has it flaws that won’t suit everyone.
This is easily a game I would recommend if you’re looking for a simple action platformer to shut your brain off for awhile before getting back on with some work. Don’t fear the reaper, Death Tales is alright.
Final Verdict: I Like it