Have a Nice Death Preview
Every once in a while there is a game whose trailer calls out to you, and you know that no matter what you have to play this title! That is exactly how I felt about Have a Nice Death when I came across the trailer while working on the March Indie Games releasing article with GameGrin’s very own Artura Dawn. Once I saw the monochrome backgrounds with hand-drawn characters and accents of colour that command your attention, I had high hopes. Plus, with it being a 2D action-platformer-roguelike — not sure if that’s really a thing but it is for this game — I was sold, I HAD TO PLAY IT!
Mere mortals get to take control of The Grim Reaper and his company Death Incorporated. This is the organisation that is responsible for processing souls in the afterlife; it’s a huge undertaking for one person, so he decided to hire some help. However, these employees weren’t exactly the most qualified or good at following rules; they have been taking way too many souls from the inhabitants of Earth, ignoring company protocol. Death is soon buried in forms to stamp and approve for all these souls his employees have collected. Death can’t handle this; he needs to end the madness. It’s not going to be an easy task though, as he has to get the bosses of each department — known as Sorrows — and all their minions under control, and will take multiple runs to get the job done. If you aren’t successful, Death will forever be stuck at his desk, buried under paperwork, with no chance of taking a holiday.
Have a Nice Death provides you with many different ways to teach those bad employees who’s the boss here; luckily none involve boring talks or team-building exercises! You begin your purge armed with your trusty blade — The Scythe: used for cutting, not only in the practical sense but also at an organisational level. As you explore the creepy tower of Death Inc. you will find there are over 30 weapons to master and spells to learn, so you will never get bored experimenting a variety of ways to dispatch your soon-to-be ex-employees. Death is resourceful and even finds a way to make an open umbrella into a deadly weapon. The controls are great, it is easy to traverse the randomly generated rooms to take out all the minions you can find. Death has a rage bar that fills as he takes out these foes; once it is full all hell breaks loose. I feel bad for anyone still in the room at this point. Those enemies don’t go easily though, they will fight back at any opportunity they can. If Death is taken out you will spawn back at your desk for another attempt. Death isn’t totally on his own though, there are employees that will help out and will provide power-ups, weapons, and spells (for a price of course). Once purchased, these items won’t be lost if you happen to fall in battle again, letting you build a huge arsenal of weapons and attacks.
The character designs in Have a Nice Death are great, as I mentioned in the intro all the characters are hand-drawn then combined with parallax scrolling; this gives the predominantly-2D game a 3D feel. Beams of light and fog give the dark level a real atmospheric feel, especially when it is accompanied with moody-sounding music. Even though some of the characters are cute, you are still dealing with Death here so it has to feel dark and foreboding.
To counteract all this dying, Have a Nice Death has a great sense of humour, which is evident right at the beginning of the game. The title screen shows Death holding a coffee mug with a big heart on it; nice to see that I’m not the only one who loves their coffee! Have a Nice Death even has an employee orientation video for people new to the company to check out, so you can learn how business should be done at Death Inc. The humour and charm is present throughout the rest of the game as you have funny conversations with employees, find power-ups with names like “Manic Monday”, and have crazy battles with Sorrows who have not followed the rules. The game manages to be funny in death as you “Rest in Paperwork”.
It is up to you to improve the work–death balance at Death Inc. and help Death get all his employees in line so he can finally take a holiday; Death is physically and mentally exhausted! Everyone needs to take a break at some point in time. With beautiful visuals, a great sense of humour, tons of power-ups, and tight controls, this is a must-play title! Have a Nice Death is currently in Early Access with the full game hopefully releasing in 2023. Even at this early stage, Have a Nice Death is already my game of the year for 2022. It’s gonna take a lot to dethrone Death!