Death’s Door shows how the best exploration of Metroidvania games rewards

One of the best indie games released in 2021 was Acid Nerve’s The door of death, who delivered a Soulslike game with an isometric perspective. The title received overwhelming positive reviews for its gameplay, artistry, and decision to master the notoriously brutal difficulty of other games inspired by FromSoftware’s classic series.

However, the game also possesses some Metroidvania qualities, with the player character gradually accumulating new abilities that allow access to previously inaccessible areas of the game. Full of secrets for experienced players to discover, The door of death is a great example of how games can reward players for exploration.

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Metroidvania games are named after two pillars of the genre, legendary franchises Metroid and Castlevania. Although both have been around since the 1980s, the mechanics of these games are so popular that they continue to influence developers more than thirty years later.

One of the main components of Metroidvania games is the inclusion of impassable obstacles which can only be cleared after the player has acquired certain abilities or certain items. The smart placement of these barriers not only results in an organized experience, preventing players from accessing content the developer intended to only feature in the later game, but also provides a huge incentive to revisit previous sections. once new abilities have been learned.

This ensures that the longevity of Metroidvania games is dramatically increased, rewarding players who don’t just walk the main game path of completion, but take the time to go back and look for new, alternate paths that may have become. available. Modern successes like Hollow knight are great examples of how a game can be structured this way, with deeply buried secrets lurking even in some of the early sections of the game.

This approach doesn’t just work for 2D titles, of course. Many fully 3D action-adventure games contain Metroidvania elements; for example, Batman: Arkham Asylum features a sprawling map with areas that are inaccessible until certain upgrades are acquired. Acclaimed Shadow Man was another great demonstration of how the genre can be effectively delivered in a 3D environment.

The mechanics of Metroidvania are also a perfect fit for Soulslikes, which features a recursive mechanic that resets all enemies whenever the player heals at a checkpoint, or leaves and then revisits an area. The restocking of the monsters in these games ensures that the player does not get bored going through a section that they have visited several times. The door of death puts all of these elements to good use, delivering a memorable experience that mixes the qualities of Soulslike and Metroidvania.

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Why Death’s Door is great at encouraging gamers to explore its game world


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The door of death offers four magic spells, only one of which – the bow – is available to the player at the start of their adventure of approximately ten hours. The others – the flame spell, the bomb spell, and the “hook” spell – are obtained before fighting each of the game’s three main bosses and allow the protagonist to light torches and other items (often like candles). switches to open locked doors), smash previously indestructible walls, or force your way through impassable chasms.


These abilities are used in the classic Metroidvania style to prevent the player from accessing late-game content too early, but also to encourage the player to revisit earlier sections of the game world. The door of death helps promote this by ensuring that all of its levels are intelligently interconnected, meaning that going back to one of those starting areas doesn’t feel like a painful rollback exercise. Not only does this save the player time, but it also helps bring the world to life and creates a feeling of discovery when a new connection between two areas is found. This enriching approach is reminiscent of the famous “world of watchmaking” of the first Dark souls.


The door of death also uses the Dark souls Mechanism of refreshing all enemies each time the player moves from area to area, giving them creatures to fight on the way. In addition, as each enemy killed rewards the player with one or more “souls”, which serve as the currency in the game, there is always a reward for revisiting areas and killing certain monsters even if no new secrets are discovered.

This is a rare event, however, as in addition to the closed areas that the player can only access with the appropriate spell, The door of death full of other secrets. From weapon upgrades to Soul Spheres to fiendishly hidden Magic Crystal Shrines, exploring in The door of death is consistently rewarded with collectibles, and the finalists loved trying to locate 100% of the game’s hidden loot.


Moreover, these pick-ups aren’t just ‘junk’ treasures that are largely worthless – a criticism that has been leveled even against revered titles like Sekiro – but a valuable and significant currency or upgrades that really reward the curious efforts of the player. There’s even a whole post-game puzzle to unravel if the player is to get the true end of the game, revealing additional ingeniously hidden content as well as a poignant conclusion for one of the game’s NPCs.

The door of death is an engaging experience for all kinds of gamers, using the mechanics of Soulslike and Metroidvania to further enhance its gaming experience – something that helps it stand alongside true classics like Hollow knight. Fans of the game and the previous version of Acid Nerve Souls of the Titans, will eagerly await news of the developer’s next project.


The door of death is available now for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X / S.

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