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Death Must Die Early Access Review | Listening To Instructions Made Fun

76
Story
6
Gameplay
8
Visuals
7
Audio
7
Value for Money
10
Price:
$ 7
Death Must Die is a great action roguelite with very polished gameplay and a cast of colorful support characters. Due to its reasonably challenging difficulty, improvements in your performance come with an incredible sense of satisfaction and a reward in drops to help push your characters further. However, unfortunately, it lacks the personality to differentiate it from other action roguelites.

Death Must Die is an action roguelite where five people with differing backgrounds work to defeat Death in his own realm. Read our review to see what it did well, what it didn't do well, and if it's worth buying.

Death Must Die Early Access Review Overview

Death Must Die Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
Checkmark Solid and Satisfying Deaths
Checkmark Great Voice Acting With Dynamic Dialogues
Checkmark Enjoyable Grind
Checkmark Tiresome Sound Design
Checkmark Slightly Suffocating Roguelike Mechanics
Checkmark Visuals Lack Personality

Death Must Die Overall - 76/100

Death Must Die is a great action roguelite with very polished gameplay and a cast of colorful support characters. Due to its reasonably challenging difficulty, improvements in your performance come with an incredible sense of satisfaction and a reward in drops to help push your characters further. However, unfortunately, it lacks the personality to differentiate it from other action roguelites.

Death Must Die Story - 6/10

While Death Must Die suffers from the same issue as other Vampire Survivors clones by throwing you right into the fold without so much as a noodle of context. But it does have a lot of world-building as you go along to compensate. These details are slowly fed to you through the interactions between your character and the gods and the other playables. Unfortunately, due to these dialogues being somewhat randomly presented, the resulting ideas are a fragmented mess of information that's difficult to process without spending dozens of hours into the game.

Death Must Die Gameplay - 8/10

Death Must Die has faithfully adapted Vampire Survivors' core gameplay while adding its flair as an action roguelite with mixed RPG elements. The end product is a delightful game that will surely captivate fans of the genre for a long time. However, its flaws, minor though they may be, become pretty apparent once you start exploring your options later on.

Death Must Die Visuals - 7/10

In terms of design, Death Must Die looks like the illegitimate child of Vampire Survivors and Hades, another isometric roguelite. But while the result is an appealing visual experience, the models and environment lack a lot of personality.

Death Must Die Audio - 7/10

The voice acting in Death Must Die is quite immaculate. The product is an advertisement of the talents' proficiency within the field. Its sound effects also pack a punch, which dramatically helps with the immersion. However, similar to its visuals, Death Must Die's audio lacks the personality to be an endearing aspect.

Death Must Die Value for Money - 10/10

At the low, low price of $6.99, it's difficult to argue against Death Must Die's price, especially considering the dozens of hours the game threatens you with (spent having fun, of course). This is particularly true given its Early Access state, so even more content should be coming.

Death Must Die Early Access Review: Listening To Instructions Made Fun

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As a big fan of anything resembling Vampire Survivors, Death Must Die immediately found its way into my wishlist the day I discovered it. As someone who eagerly supports Early Access games despite the relatively common stigma against them (over two thousand hours on early access Eternal Return, baby), I was all too eager to try Death Must Die as soon as I could. And now that the game is publicly available to anybody with spare change, I am glad I didn't ignore it.

Even in its pre-official release form, Death Must Die is already great. The gameplay is fun, the visuals are pleasing, and the grind is satisfying. But while it's not at the same level as those that have taken the genre to the next level, such as HoloCure, it's already worth the money it asks on its Steam Store page.

Of course, it's not without its own share of problems. Aside from the issues to be discussed in the cons section, it also suffers from the occasional stutters and questionable occurrences in-game, such as frozen enemies still sometimes being able to move. But, oh well, it's only in early access at the moment anyway. Those will surely be ironed out eventually.

Pros of Death Must Die

Things Death Must Die Got Right
Checkmark Solid and Satisfying Deaths
Checkmark Great Voice Acting With Dynamic Dialogues
Checkmark Enjoyable Grind

Solid and Satisfying Deaths

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These isometric bullet hell games are kind of arcade-y. It means that their core gameplay is the main attraction. And in this regard, Death Must Die has a peculiar charm. Each run is a gauntlet through legions of formidable enemies that can destroy you in short order if you let your guard down.

Part of the challenge comes from its randomly generated upgrades. These are unique in their own right, as it has two layers of randomness before a set of three choices is presented to you. First, the game decides which god or goddess will appear before you. Then, three blessings are chosen mostly at random from their pool. This means that upgrades are far more difficult to replicate between runs.

Fortunately, every god or goddess' blessings generally fall into a general category, such as those that affect your normal attack, auto-firing spells, skills that activate when dashing, etc.

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All of your efforts to assemble a cohesive skillset are directed into the battle between you and the lackeys of Death himself. They are formidable foes that can annihilate entire chunks of your life in a single hit. This is especially true if you've set the game at the highest difficulty setting, which, interestingly enough, is the default when you're starting the game.

Of course, you'll die. In fact, you'll die a lot. But each of these deaths rarely feels meaningless unless you purposely screwed up somewhere. That's because the difficulty makes each death present a trial for you to reach even further.

If only health recovery items dropped more often–

Great Voice Acting With Dynamic Dialogues

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While your playable characters are mostly voiceless puppets, the many gods and goddesses that appear before you are anything but. They have distinct personalities delivered wonderfully through the writing and the voice actors behind them.

What's even more remarkable is that these deities converse with you in such a way that it actually feels like they're watching over what you do. For example, taking a blessing from the Goddess of Fire, Summer, will frequently result in a scathing remark from the Goddess of Cold, Winter, who views the former as a nuisance.

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But these heavenly beings do not only deliver an abundance of much-needed levity in Death Must Die's bleak world. They also serve as the primary method for the game to build upon the world. And as characters who aren't designed to be a generic, open book of lore, they provide their insights in a multi-colored style that fits their personalities well.

You could even say that they single-handedly carry Death Must Die's almost critical lack of narrative.

Enjoyable Grind

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On top of the generic roguelike core gameplay, Death Must Die also possesses an RPG-like feature in equipment and a roguelite feature in perks. These, especially the former, need to be worked on for a long time to give you access to the full benefits of their effects.

Either one has a different nature compared to the other. For one, earning equipment is relatively easy. After all, there's a shop that you can visit to purchase armor, weapons, and accessories from before the start of every run. However, getting the right equipment for your preferred build is an exercise of patience and perseverance. That's because the stats on every piece of equipment differ wildly, from the effects to the values they carry.

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Meanwhile, unlocking perks is a far more difficult affair since the conditions are often vague or even archaic. Casual players may just find a perk unlocked for their character without intending to do so. However, unlike equipment, these are permanent upgrades for your character and do not require further adjustments or optimizations. But while only being able to equip one perk at a time might seem like a disappointing limitation, it actually helps to widen perspectives when creating builds.

Farming equipment and pairing the perk appropriate to them is the key to long-term success. Due to the difficulty of creating a good combination of both, achieving it and seeing your runs go much farther than usual is an incredibly satisfying experience.

Cons of Death Must Die

Things That Death Must Die Can Improve
Checkmark Tiresome Sound Design
Checkmark Slightly Suffocating Roguelike Mechanics
Checkmark Visuals Lack Personality

Tiresome Sound Design

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Although Death Must Die features incredible voice acting and engaging sound effects, the overall sound design is a disappointingly dull affair. This might be due to the limited types of enemies currently present. Still, after several runs through Death's domain, you'll eventually grow tired of repeatedly listening to the same sound clips.

On top of that, while decent on its own, the background music ironically only makes the entire auditory experience grow tiresome faster. This is because it possesses no distinct beat against the sound effects of the game, which would have at least turned the end result somewhat engaging otherwise. Instead, it's drowned by the repetitive sounds of minions keeling over and spells firing across the map, becoming a somniferous noise that could weigh your eyelids down.

Slightly Suffocating Roguelike Mechanics

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Due to the permanence of your perk and equipment's effects, you'll often lean toward choosing specific blessings that directly complement them. For example, taking the Sorceress' "The Sign of Fire" perk, which increases your spell damage every 3 levels, with an equipment set stuffed full of Spell Damage bonuses will make you favor taking offensive spells from the deities.

However, because perks can only be set on the central hub and how influential they are, there will always be runs where you won't be able to run a complete set of the blessings you want. And due to the random nature of blessing selections and the limited ways to reroll them, you'll almost always end up with a patchwork build with undesirable blessings that do nothing for your gimmick.

In a way, this could actually be interpreted as a challenge for players. On the other hand, those who enjoy min-maxing builds will certainly not appreciate it, especially since those are the kinds of people who are willing to spend the time to farm a particular set of equipment in the first place.

Visuals Lack Personality

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Death Must Die features beautiful character designs and visual effects; that's true. But, there's a severe lack of variety to the enemies you'll encounter, and the map is an expansive land of repeating terrain.

It might be due to its early access state, but the enemies, as they grow stronger, simply change color as the run progresses. In fact, the game acknowledges this to some extent, as a recurring elite skeleton archer with an aloof personality will often tell you that he'll get back at you for killing him previously.

On top of that, the enemy designs themselves are unimaginative and dull. They're just skeletons, phantoms, and whatnot beelining towards you for a chance to liberate your head from your shoulders. The weapons and spells aren't any better, either, as they do not have any striking or memorable effects. They're just the usual bolt of lightning, breath of fire, and spinning buzzsaw that we've all grown used to from medieval fantasy games by now.

This will likely change once more enemies and maps are introduced into the game. However, at this point, it helps to be warned of what you'll see. But at the very least, it doesn't suffer from screen congestion, unlike many of its fellows within the same genre.

Is Death Must Die Worth It?

You Need To Buy It First To Kill Death, So Do It

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Regardless of my complaints, Death Must Die is still a delightful game that more than justifies its price. Although its playtime might sound inflated due to the very nature of these games, it manages to keep itself self-sustained with surprises due to the difficulty in unlocking perks and obtaining rare equipment.

As the game gains more content through future patches, its price may also increase proportionally to their invested effort. Hence, this is the best time to pick it up.

Death Must Die Overview & Premise

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Death Must Die follows the trials of five individuals with a grudge against Death. Follow their journey as they cut through their nemesis' minions using the powers given to them by a pantheon of gods.

Death Must Die FAQ

Who are Death Must Die's Characters?

Death Must Die features five playable characters: Avoron the Knight, Merris the Sorceress, Nixi the Assassin, Kront the Barbarian, and Skadi the Warrior.

Is Death Must Die on Steam?

Death Must Die is available on the Steam Store. In fact, it's currently only available there.

Death Must Die Product Information

Death Must Die Cover
Title DEATH MUST DIE
Release Date November 15, 2023 (Early Access)
Developer Realm Archive
Publisher Realm Archive
Supported Platforms PC
Genre Bullet Hell, Action Roguelike
Number of Players 1
ESRB Rating N/A
Official Website Death Must Die Website

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