It makes for a spicy, satisfying second playthrough
Not only did I enjoy Death’s Door enough to beat it and then obsessively track down (and then, whoops, also plant) every last seed to unlock the eventual “true ending,” but now I’m circling back for a completely new run. It’s such a well-paced, just-deep-enough, perfectly sized action-exploration game. After scouring for secrets, I know the ins and outs of Death’s Door — and now it’s time for an umbrella-only run to keep things fresh.
While a few extended fights can be tricky, I wouldn’t say Death’s Door is a particularly challenging game — it comes down to pattern recognition, spacing, and reflexes, sure, but you can also power up your humble reaper crow’s capabilities if you go out of your way to grind a bit and also seek out all of the hidden shrines for extra health and magic.
I like how optional it all feels. Death’s Door is great if you just want to get through the story without stressing about things that may or may not be sneakily tucked out of sight with clever camera obfuscation. The game is also great, and arguably even better, if you take the time to fully explore its layered fantasy world. 100% completion is a worthy goal.
Originally, when I saw there was a trophy/achievement for an umbrella-only run, I figured I’d probably pass, thank you very much. It would have to be a whole ‘nother playthrough.
Now that I’ve clicked this hard with Death’s Door, though, I’m happy to run through it all again from the beginning without any of my stat upgrades. I’m excited to face every big boss and drawn-out gauntlet with this shitty little “weapon.” It balances out my know-how. It evens the odds, and helps keep this fast-moving second playthrough feeling fresh.
As frustrating as I think it would be to try and pummel some of these creeps with an umbrella on my first time through, as a sort of post-game victory lap, it’s a fantastic setup.
I know everyone’s attack patterns; now I just have to play consistently well! With this self-imposed “nerf” to my crow’s melee power, there are also upgrades to weigh — should I prioritize strength right off the bat to make up for the umbrella’s shortcomings, or double-down on ranged attacks? It’s fun to think through. (Speaking of, Death’s Door‘s use-melee-strikes-to-recharge-your-spells mechanic is so simple yet effective. It makes the game.)
Of course, challenge runs are nothing new for games, especially if we’re talking fan-made criteria. I just wish more games would incorporate these ideas — or at least elements of them — as a way to extend their life for players willing to dig deeper.
It’s not so much about adding raw difficulty as it is spicing things up.