Have a Nice Death – Review

Hello friends. Today we review “Have a Nice Death” an amazingly-looking 2D action roguelike game coming from Gearbox Publishing currently in Early Access where you play as Death! Involved in this is the talented creator of Dead Cells, S├ębastien Benard and Nuclear Blaze we have reviewed here. This game was revealed during The Game Awards 2021 and immediately grabbed our attention!

Developer: Magic Design Studios
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Genre: Action, Indie, Early Access, Platform, Roguelike
Release Date: 8 Mar 2022
Reviewed on: PC/Windows
Available on: PC/Windows
Link: Steam
Discord Link: Discord 
Review copy was provided.

You’re Death – the founder and CEO of Death Incorporated, a company taking shape in the crypt of an abandoned cathedral somewhere in Europe, where difficult work conditions are the norm. Being overwhelmed and tired by the tedious job of gathering souls, you decide it would be a good idea to raise some subordinates called Sorrows to do the work for you, while you enjoy some free time. Or so you think. But things turn bad for you when the overzealous Sorrows ignore company protocols and lead you to burnout processing all the paperwork for a soul’s afterlife. Now it is time to take matters back into your own hands (or Scythe) teaching them Sorrows a thing or two in the process.

The gameplay is similar to modern roguelikes and consists of you moving around the company’s departments, getting Sorrows and other minions killed using a mix of platforming, dashing, and combat using various items. You get your weapons, shapeshifting cloaks, and spells by destroying Steles which are used to preserve work equipment and only Death (you) has the power to break or in a Weapons floor. In order to equip another weapon or item, you need to go to the Control room where you assign each weapon to a different slot (and usable by its slot’s corresponding keybind).

You get to use a slot for equipping each type (weapon, cloak, and spell) with another 4th slot available to bank an item for future use. The Scythe (weapon slot) can be used only by the Scythe itself or one of its upgrades and that will be your main attack. The Cloak now has the ability to transform into anything – having its preference for destructive weapons and invisibility traits and can be equipped in slot number two. The third slot is used by spell items that are projectile and useful for hitting enemies from a safe distance – but they use mana that needs a longer cooldown to replenish. Each equipable item has different stats and attack patterns, so will need to decide between fast weapons doing less damage per hit or heavy ones that deal mighty blows per swing. You can use your weapons by clicking the attack button, and that attack can be determined based on what direction you’re holding the movement stick (or not) or if you hold your attack button to charge an attack up.

There are over 30 unique weapons and spells you can find and upgrade – for your preference – which makes every choice impactful. Using your different weapons, stunning or hitting enemies with single hits or combos, will eventually charge up your Frenzy bar which you can use, once it is filled up, unleashing devastating Fury attacks, with various items having their own unique Fury.

Killing enemies eventually makes them drop Soulary. Soulary is a currency at Death, Inc. and needed to pay for services such as paying Mark’s Shop for healing items, weapons, and extra spells, or in the Control Room where you can improve your equipment. But killing enemies is not a one-sided job as they often hit back – that’s where Anima is needed. Anima are bursts of life essence as you can read from the Employee’s Handbook (a which is a codex/wiki of sorts detailing tutorials, enemies, places, etc. everything you encounter in Have a Nice Death’s world.) and is the main item you will use to get your health up!

Another available perk that affects how you tackle every fight is Curses. Curses are passive buffs that persist through death and are available for you in 3 variants (red, blue, and green) and each can be used in their respective trees. After each boss (or randomly by meeting O’Shah) you’re given the choice of selecting one between 3 randomized Curses. Each Curse adds a buff and depending on their placement on the tree, they can include a de-buff (penalty) so think wisely before selecting one!

With all the above, you understand that it is easy to create a complex and diverse inventory of different attacks and buffs, allowing for creative killing – fitting for Death himself as he roams through the game’s maps! Maps are procedurally generated which allows variety between runs as the chance is slim for you to encounter the same layout throughout your plays. The theme of each map is following the “Department” you’ve chosen to clear, and even enemies change to fit the theme – for example, you will encounter “Petroll” enemies in the “Industrial Pollution Department” whereas in the “Physical Illness Department” you will get to meet “Heart Breaker” and “Nursurion”.Quite often the maps have rooms sealing you in (like an arena) until you kill every enemy wave in a typical roguelike fashion. Hitting Tab will show you the map layout you’re currently in, something I personally like, allowing you to make sure you haven’t missed any room or item. At the end of each level, you will find an elevator where you get to choose the next “level”/”floor”, with the group of procedurally generated floors consisting of a “run”. On run completion, you’re given a performance review and depending on your stats a chance to unlock interesting items and upgrades.

The gameplay in general can be considered tough, with every encounter presenting a challenge. Recent updates made it more forgiving but still moving through the levels is very rewarding on succession (or frustrating on failure). The game does guarantee you get many…deaths!

On the visuals now, the game is extremely beautiful – there are great-looking graphics accompanied by fluent animation taking the crown as you hack, slash and dash through the world and enemies! The world oozes with details and shows how much care the developers poured into this game.Audio is nice, with a suitable creepy soundtrack whereas in the sound effects front there’s distinctive sound for each attack/weapon making this whole audio experience enjoyable – on the other hand, we’ve encountered a bug where on occasion we could not hear any sound in-game (music or FX) even though we could hear them in the audio options menu – that seemed to fix itself after moving onto the next floor though. We hope the developer can fix this soon in a future update as you understand this is critical.

Even though this is still in Early Access, there’s already plenty to do and the developers keep adding stuff every update. Recent additions include a new world (Toxic Food-Processing Department), 5 new enemies that are food-related such as a burger and a tart, a new food mini-boss, and a new boss. Aside from the new world, we got some new weapons and items, new curses (over 50), new lore, as well as quality of life improvements such as weapon selling and other tweaks.

This game offers fast-paced hack n’ slash combat, beautiful imagery and is a blast to play with – looking forward to more polish and the next additions as we totally recommend checking this out!

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Fun Factor: 9
Final Verdict/Overall: 8,6

This post was first published on overage-gaming by static. If you like what you see here and want to see more, you can check me out on Twitter and YouTube as well.

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