Developed By: Arcade Distillery 
Published By: Arcade Distillery
Category: Platformer, Action, Role-Playing
Release Date: 03 December 2020

There are an outrageous number of indies out there in the gaming world. Between PC, and consoles it is terribly difficult to keep up with the good and the bad. This game will likely be overlooked as it falls right in the middle of the good and the bad at just mediocre. That isn’t to say this game doesn’t have it’s highlights.

As you start the game you can choose between playing a solo adventure or a 2-player couch co-op. You are a new Reaper and your on the hunt to find Death. If you choose the 2-player option, you will be joined by Spaura. I played most of the game in solo. I tried to play with 2 players a few times, but the controls were too difficult for my kids to manage. As the Reaper you set out to discover new realms, kill enemies and complete quests.

While you venture in to the fray of destitute worlds, you collect a number of weapons, hoods and armors. Each of these provide a different perk that will aid you in the world. The bonus, you are able to change this gear in the menu at any point in the game, this includes the middle of boss fights.

Throughout the game you earn different rewards as you complete levels. You can choose a piece of heart, and when three parts of the card are collected you get an additional health heart added to your overall life. There are pieces of a shard, when three are collected it increases the size of your stamina bar. You may choose a large pot of orbs to add to your collection that are used to purchase different items in the main village from a vendor named Fiona. Or you may see gear with a stat that you find useful.

Starting the game I was torn. The music fit the environment but wasn’t something that drew me in. The backgrounds of the worlds are fantastic. It honestly reminds me of a world crafted by Tim Burton. The big downside however, were the controls. That isn’t to say the game in itself is solely responsible as I was playing this title while dealing with joy-con drift. However, these controls can be a bit frustrating and clunky even when using a pro controller until you get the hang of them. Dodging is a huge necessity, and dodging different obstacles can be infuriating when you are trying to use certain moves and the stiffness behind the controls have a delay. Yet I noticed that as I got more and more comfortable with the operation of the game, I started to enjoy it a lot more.

A large bonus was the game played a bit like a rogue-like. If you met an unfortunate end, you only lost your progress in the current stage you were in. Often, a red fog would appear and cover the exits. These zones have a number at the top requiring a certain number of enemies to be defeated before you can progress forward. In these areas you may only have to restart in that area, rather than the very beginning. Death during bosses is similar, it only restarts the boss fights.

Lead Reader is the character in the main village that provides quests. You will find a few quests in the different worlds as well. Death Tales does a great job at providing you with options to purchase upgrades and collect gear. It could be called “a grind” but when it came to collecting upgrades and gear it never felt like I was grinding for the items.

By far, my favorite moments in the game were the boss fights. Their designs were so unique. If this game had been solely built around massive monster fights I would probably never stop playing it. The mechanics of each one were not terribly hard to figure out. I could easily see inspirations in the game from predecessors like Castlevania. My only complaint about the boss fights is I wish there had been a health bar. I was never sure when the battle would end. It would have been a nice inclusion to the experience.

The overall build of the game is enjoyable even if the controls worked to impair the fun. Fast travel is given immediately and in late game it was a great tool to have. As previously stated I would have loved to have a health bar for the bosses, but I still really enjoyed the boss battles. I looked forward to them as I completed each level. There are a slew of enemy variations. Once you think you have seen them all, new twisted versions appear. This helped prevent the game from feeling too repetitive. If there had been a bestiary of some form to track the different types and the levels they appear in, questing would have been a lot more appealing.

By the end of the game, I felt overall satisfied with the game. I can appreciate the work that was put into Death Tales and the story behind the adventure involving Death, as well as the world quests you encounter added a depth I wasn’t expecting in the title. When considering the cons of the game, the pros really did out weigh them. It had it’s challenges, but was rewarding enough that I continued my destructive to the end.

3/5

Buy Now: 9.99

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*The Switch Effect was graciously supplied a code for review purposes.