Starting up Magic Design Studios’ 2D action roguelike, you immediately find yourself in familiar surroundings. How many roguelikes are out there after all? But if you think that Have a Nice Death is a middle of the pack roguelike with nothing to show, you’d be very wrong.
The game immediately draws you in with its charming 2D artstyle and a quirky story about an overworked Reaper of souls. At first glance, the game might resemble a mix of Hollow Knight, Dead Cell with a sprinkling of Hades – you are going to die a lot, and you will love it!
Without further ado, put on your black robes, grab your scythe and let’s proceed. This is our Have a Nice Death Early Access preview for PC.
Note: the Steam key is a verified purchase by the author.
As you begin the game, you encounter… Death. No, we don’t die, we actually ARE Death. And we are very tired from all the thankless work. Once upon a time, Death used to reap the souls of everyone, each mortal that died was faced with the Death’s visage and scythe.
But, as eons passed, Death got tired of taking care of everyone and everything. And Death created Sorrows, powerful beings whose duty entailed taking over Death’s job. After the creation of Sorrows, Death took an extended vacation, hoping to catch a break from the monotonous hard work.
Years passed, Death’s strength diminished and the Reaper was moved to deal with the paperwork while the Sorrows grew more powerful and impudent. Killing without remorse was no longer enough, and the Sorrows decided to seize the power and remove Death permanently.
Taking on Death might have been a calculated risk, but boy are the Sorrows bad at math! Tired from the endless flow of paperwork, Death decided to stop this lawlessness and insolence by curbing the Sorrows in the good old way, by smacking some sense into them. However… For starters, it would be nice to get back in shape!
The plot is not filled with many intricacies, you will not have to explore the in-game world’s nooks and crannies to get little pieces of lore or secrets of characters, Have a Nice Death will explain and explore everything as you move through the story and defeat your opponents. But, much like the game itself, the story is filled with lambent humor. Every little bit, including the weapons’ descriptions, is filled with jokes, Easter eggs, references, cynicism and pokes that will make players smile.
The game has inherited all of the main characteristics of the roguelike genre. Your journey starts in your office and you set out to throw some hands and get the Sorrows to behave. On your long quest, you will have to move through 5 floors to reach the main Sorrow, with every floor being randomly generated, featuring a horde of enemies and even mini-bosses.
Every floor visually and mechanically corresponds with the related Sorrow: War has various monsters that are different incarnations of warriors against the backdrop of destroyed tanks, funnels from explosions, battlefields and so on. Plague’s level features laboratories, syringes, flasks and much more.
The monsters have roughly the same moveset and, once you have studied it enough, you will no longer have to suffer the way you do in Souls-like games.
Rushing ahead and trying to skip as much as you can might not be the best idea as the game levels contain essence, coins and equipment, all of which can help make you stronger and more durable. Sometimes you can find mini-bosses or arenas that will challenge you to survive against hordes of enemies and get an extra reward or currency or gear.
At the same time, it’s up to you to choose your path by deciding which floor you will be going to next from a couple of options. You can set out to visit a shop and buy more stuff, or collect enough essences and visit the workshop to upgrade your weapons or maybe go after another mini-boss.
However, the main staple of roguelike-games is right there to catch you if you get too confident. If you die, you will lose everything and return to your office to start the adventure anew. You could build an awesome setup, set enemies on fire or poison them, deal tremendous amounts of damage, launch dozens or projectiles and so forth, but once you die, you will lose all of it with the exception of diary entries and gold bars.
And, once you appear in your office, all the Sorrows will be back, ready to defy you. All the enemies you have defeated will be ready to oppose you again, including the mini-bosses. However, you can use those gold bars to unlock new abilities and instruments for Death.
You can’t predict what will drop during a new run, and you will have to adapt and use the gear that dropped. Figuring out ways to use different sets of weapons and abilities, combining it with movesets of enemies is the way to defeat bosses.
As you progress, you will modify and upgrade weapons, and over a dozen playthroughs you will learn them all. You will understand which weapons fit your playstyle, which ones are effective and which ones simply look cool.
But, if the variety of weapons did not impress you, bosses leave a completely different impression. Every boss has an interesting moveset, abilities and animations, counterattacks and fun little bits. A giant muffin with a candy hammer was extremely fun to battle, especially considering its attacks. And there are many more like that – a giant spider robot, a Sorrow General, and more.
However, your usual trash mobs at the moment are a bit boring. As you fight your way to the Sorrows, you will meet 4-5 types of enemies each featuring 2-3 various attacks that you will learn very quickly. And your journey can take hours…
Visually, the enemies might look different to fit with the style of the corresponding floor and the respective Sorrow, but mechanically they are mostly the same. At the moment, the game lacks variety since it is still in the Early Access stage. Have a Nice Death could use more of everything: weapons, types of enemies, number of levels, etc.
The game features a strong atmosphere, complete with its visual style and OST. The developers have perfectly matched the world of the dead and the warm colors, combining into a great design with hints of humor and cynicism that will accompany you through the game.
Every stage is unique: fighting an empty cheeseburger box against the backdrop of a destroyed cafe is quite funny, while battling a soldier with a head pierced by a shell against the backdrop of a minefield is tense. All of this is accompanied by beautiful music, usually calm and lovely as you fight your way through trash and more energetic and driven when you get to bosses.
Have a Nice Death deserves attention from the lovers of beautiful stylized graphics, music and roguelike genre. The game is currently in its Early Access stage and somewhat lacks variety. I hope that in the future developers will introduce new enemies, tools, levels and more. However, even in its current state the game can provide players with several hours of intense, fun gameplay.
Additionally, in early July the game also received the Fast Food update, with players being invited to explore the Toxic Food-Processing department. If you want to gorge yourself to death, there is no better way to do so.
The update includes a brand-new world, new enemies, spells and more which somewhat helps with the variety of the base game.