We’ve been hired by death Inc. to help Death reclaim his CEO job – it’s a dirty job, but someone had to do it!
After the early access period, Have a Nice Death is finally presented to the public in a definitive version: the sparkling and lively spirit of the Magic Design Studios roguelite remains unchanged, as well as the brilliant cartoon aesthetic, which remains its main distinctive element. The widely tested play formula still shows some uncertainty, however if you are a fan of the genre, get ready to “die” in an experience that is as fun as it is satisfying.
Welcome to the afterlife!
A jingle plays in the office of the CEO of Death Inc.: “Welcome to the Afterlife!“. Welcome to the other world, a place, a far more organized and formal office than you would expect.
After all, managing the cycle of life and death for all the inhabitants of the planet shouldn’t be a simple task. Everyone has to do their job with dedication, starting with Death himself, who stops behind a desk filling out forms, signing documents and… gets bored. The times in which she personally dealt with the deceased are long gone: for years she has delegated the task of reaping souls to frightening creatures created by herself, the Suffering. It has lost so much grit and power, reducing herself to little more than an employee in her own company. However, her umpteenth load of paperwork awakens her from her torpor: what are her sufferings up to? The time to pick up the swashbuckling has finally come: her employees owe her some explanation. The absurd and eloquent narrative premise leads us straight into the game. Basically the story is not particularly explicit, however in the course of the adventure you will be able to interact with all the characters you will meet and attend funny interludes that illustrate the rules of a somewhat ramshackle spa, in which everyone loves their job “to death”. Including us gamers, who we have appreciated every design choice on which Death Inc. is founded.a company in which situations echo that intelligently lead back to those of a cult like “The Office”.
The workers faithful to Death are painted on the classic stereotypes of office comedies, from the Boss’s “too-licking” secretary with a smile “etched” on his face, to the insecure and coffee-addicted computer scientist, passing through the dissatisfied employee, who he addresses Death underlining his mistakes with laconic sarcasm, but without ever fully exposing himself.
The spectrum of personalities we will encounter is quite diverse and manifests itself appropriately in the appearance of each employee. For example, Death’s personal trainer is a skinless corpse, so literally “all muscle”, always on fire. In short, the artistic direction has worked excellently in creating an amusing, simple and understandable imagery for everyone.
Under the veil of irony there are also some subtle, almost satirical jabs at the toxic world of work: the warning message that appears before starting to play is proof of this, since it invites the player not to take inappropriate behavior and psychological discomforts which in the title are indeed represented with comic intent, but which all too often occur in everyday working life.
From animation to animation, therefore, Have a Nice Death surprises with a well-kept graphic and artistic sector and adult cartoonish writing. The witticisms, expressiveness and animations of each actor on stage are as adorable as they are characteristic; in particular, the Bosses and Sufferers are so well made that we would like to see a TV series entirely dedicated to them.
Less brilliant, compared to the visual sector, is instead the sound design, which, although not stupendous, still manages to function properly, thanks to traditional onomatopoeic sound effects and captivating jingles. For its part, the soundtrack alternates excited songs on the occasion of the “initials” of the Sufferings, and more calm background music as we go through the levels. All in all, immersion in the fanta-office is guaranteed by virtue of a musical kit that is never out of time.
In the folkloric framework just described, there is room for uncompromising Roguelite gameplay. Part of the magnetism of Have a Nice Death lies precisely in its play on contrasts.
At the beginning you will have only two levels of challenge available: the first, self-affirmation, is recommended for those who are not used to the punitive dynamics of the reference genre, which force you to start the journey over again after each “Burnouts“. In fact, Death obviously does not pass away, but he can become so stressed that he is forced to take a break and return to his office. The result is the same: loss of accumulated Power ups and procedurally generated level resets. However, if choose to “self-affirm” the enemies will be more forgiving, your damage inflicted increased and you will be given two minor instant cures and a much more effective golden one. Otherwise, playing on normal difficulty, at the start of the run you will only have a small and the awareness that the experience will be tougher.
Given its roguelite nature, Have a Nice Death still has progression elements that resist defeatsuch as economic currencies useful for distributing new upgrades for our cloak in the next stages, or passive skills and permanent modifiers of Death’s statistics, which will help us in pilgrimages between the floors of Death Inc.. Finally, we find some shortcuts with which to avoid entire sections , to favor more experienced players looking to reach one of the endings as soon as possible.
The leader of the danceWe agree that “sometimes you just have to be the boss of the dance” as Michael Scott puts it in The Office. She may be lazy and listless, but from this point of view Death is a Saturday night fever Boss. Her movements are always fluid, the flow of each fight is satisfying and fast. The hand-drawn animations for the protagonist and her opponents, from the smallest to the most massive, never disappoint and are supported by a well-optimized technical framework. On mid/high-end PCs, Have a Nice Death never faltered even at 2K.
Thanks to these small precautions, even losing repeatedly, we have never felt the specter of frustration. As per tradition for the genre, the replayability is then very high. Furthermore, by completing the main campaign, you access new challenging levels of increasing difficulty. In addition to being tied to the capacity of individual users, the time spent in the company is also connected to the randomness of the succession of floors and equipment. Death can use a good number of different scythes, each with a different moveset and effectiveness. She can also equip up to two secondary weapons and various modifiers to her passive or active skills. The balance is more than fair, and we have not experienced combinations capable of shattering the balance, despite the variety of offensive tools – such as bows, daggers, spears, bazookas, capes and assorted curses – is very high. Furthermore, Death boasts a different final attack for each main scythe or secondary equipment, usable by emptying a dedicated bar.
The controls are responsive and punctual, so the flow of single attacks via cloak spells or scythe combos is extremely effective. In any case, compulsive assault spam does not reward, especially if we are trying to reach flying opponents. Indeed, when we jump and attack, Death stops in mid-air for a while, exposed, if we are badly positioned, to counterattacks or stray bullets. It felt like a well-placed mechanic, developed to discourage careless pressure of attack inputs.
More action, less exploration
The general structure is fun and challenging, in line with what is required by the standards of the Roguelites. However, there’s still a bit of polish here and there, as well as a couple of gameplay choices that we weren’t fully satisfied with. First of all, the protagonist’s health and care system, which has remained identical from early access to today.
When an opponent hits us, Death doesn’t always suffer what we could define as real damage. Sometimes, the health bar will turn from white to gray, allowing us to recover only a part of it with healing items or secondary effects of weapons. Fully restoring the “blackened” HP is much more difficult, and feasible only with rarer drops or in special rooms. This division between momentary and semi-permanent damages did not seem adequately virtuous to us.
In fact, the game does not explain when a hit will affect health momentarily: the attention required of the player therefore rises too much in the initial stages of preparation of the build, and the fear of suffering a hit of any size affects the enjoyment of the experience , sometimes causing us to start over to restart at full health. Another unfortunate choice involves level design and the alternation of plans during a run.
At the extremes of the maps there are always two lifts: the entrance one and the exit one. From the latter you can choose from time to time which new floor of the department to go to, between sections in which there are mini Bosses, others in which we find the shops, or still others in which there is the increased drop of currency, weapons and hoods. However, the procedural algorithm generates structures that are too similar to each other in structure, with an excessive concession to redundancy. The beautiful backgrounds and style of the platforms make each department unique, but only aesthetically. By virtue of a very successful artistic component, we can partially forgive the structural repetitiveness, also because the very linear progression of the floors makes it clear that the focus of Have a Nice Death is fighting, and not exploration.
Not surprisingly, there are almost no thick platform moments, while at regular intervals you enter larger and more articulated rooms, to be overcome by defeating a large number of monsters. About that, the variety of the bestiary is excellentwith a notable diversification both thematically and playfully.
Each department of Death Inc. is identified by a “type of death” well reflected in the obstacles of the stages and in the rewards, whose arsenal and color match those of the end-of-area Suffering. Therefore, if the Boss uses poison, all explorable areas preceding him will be poisoned, and enemies will deal poison-related damage. Nothing particularly innovative and brilliant, mind you, yet everything is functional enough to give the adventure a good dose of charisma.
Have A Nice DeathPC Analyzed VersionHave a Nice Death is a great Roguelite. The gameplay satisfies the discerning palate, as well as those accustomed to less than forgiving challenges. What the work lacks to really make the leap in definitive quality is greater structural diversification, with a few fewer concessions to redundancy. Only applause instead for the magnificent art direction and for the deadly funny writing. In short, dying has never been so pleasant as in the improbable Death Inc.
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