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Death of a Wish Review

Death of a Wish Review

Six years after releasing the stylish hack-and-slash action RPG Lucah: Born of a Dream, indie developer melessthanthree is back with Death of a Wish, bringing us fast-paced and fluid combat, gritty dream-like aesthetics, and several levels across a hostile world. The protagonist starring in this sequel is Christian (Chris, for short), a headstrong fighter who is hellbent on upending the Sanctum, a religious cult that raised him. While Chris was initially planned as an alternate character for the first title, his story evolved into its own game and thankfully, it has been crafted as a standalone work, so newcomers can definitely jump into Death of a Wish without missing a beat.

For those who played Born of a Dream, melessthanthree’s captivating art style will feel familiar, as Death of a Wish’s visuals come together through a combination of pulsating hand-drawn scribbles and vibrant colours. While I’ve played many games with a strong sense of atmosphere and aesthetics, there’s something about this title that stands out from the rest. The sketch-like visuals feel intimate in a way, as if I were flipping through someone’s personal art book where their memories, dreams, and nightmares come to life. From the sweeping blue of a melee strike to the bright pink outline of an ally, Death of a Wish’s use of colour is undeniably beautiful. It can also be quite eerie, as red signifies danger and is intentionally utilised in specific moments, such as sudden deaths in a cutscene or aggressive text across a black screen.

death of a wish boss fight

Combat in Death of a Wish is honestly kind of gorgeous, and now that I think about it, this might be the first time I’ve ever said that about a hack-and-slash game. In fact, you’ll encounter a trainer who says, “Let me teach you how to be beautiful,” when you’re looking to practise your skills. While a lot of that beauty stems from the colourful visuals, the graceful movement takes it to the next level; every dodge, dash, and attack is just so smooth, making battles that much more satisfying.

With that said, beauty doesn’t necessarily equal ease, so if you’re looking for a dynamic RPG that doesn’t pull the punches, you’ll definitely find it here. Not only do you encounter enemies frequently, but each one is tough in its own way, requiring you to pay attention to their attack patterns and master your timing to either dodge or parry at the right moment. Each foe comes with two bars, one for HP and another for Guard, and dishing out certain attacks or parrying at the right moment will deplete its Guard and stagger your enemy, at which point you can wallop them with all you’ve got. I quickly learned that you’ll be punished for being overzealous, even in the smallest fights, as overextending yourself and simply spamming attacks will most likely lead to your demise rather than victory. As such, maintaining pressure and momentum while also negating damage ultimately becomes a careful dance for survival.

death of a wish combat

If (when) you do fall to an enemy, you’re not just met with a “load your last save” option where you can start over with a clean slate. Instead, you’ll respawn at your last rest point, and you’ll gain Corruption, which is measured by a percentage in the top-right corner of your screen. If you reach 100% Corruption, you’ll have to go back to an earlier part of the game; in my case, I usually lost enough progress to make me sigh, but I was always ready to jump right back in. This isn’t an unavoidable fate, though; you can decrease your Corruption by fighting well, as the game will score you on certain things, such as how fast you defeat an enemy or whether you avoid taking damage. Plus, if you’re running on low HP during a fight, you can use a Rewind ability to start the encounter over, restoring your health to what it was when the fight began, or you can use a Health Essence, which functions like a potion, restoring some of your HP.

When it comes to the rest of Christian’s toolkit, there’s a lot at your disposal for tailoring your combat style. Arias are elemental powers that you can equip in your menu to change how Chris fights. Each one offers different benefits, such as Sol, which increases your damage with successive attacks, or Aqua, which allows you to slow enemies. You can also switch between Arias easily mid-fight, allowing you to adjust depending on the type of foe you’re up against. You’ll get a cute little Familiar to accompany you, too, and it’ll have its own attack that you can trigger during combat. Each time you level up, you can choose to apply points to increase attributes that fit your playstyle, such as increasing the damage of your Familiar’s attacks, upping your max Health, and more.

death of a wish ui

Additionally, you’ll find Prayer Cards as you explore, which can be used to apply passives to your attacks, such as improving the range of an Aria’s attack. There are also items called Virtues, which remind me of Hollow Knight's charms since you can equip a limited amount of them for certain effects. For example, the Untethered Virtue slows time when you dodge perfectly, and there’s a Perceptive Virtue that allows you to see an enemy’s weakness/resistance information. Switching up which Virtues you have equipped can change the feel of battle instantly.

It might sound like Death of a Wish is all about combat, but the narrative definitely plays a major part in the game, leading you through a linear tale as Chris attempts to take down the four heads of the Sanctum cult: Father, Sister, Cardinal, and Priest. The developer, melessthanthree, explores themes of Catholic guilt, religious trauma, and queerness through games, which I definitely picked up on as I played. My only issue with the storytelling was that the dialogue and world-building were often hard to follow. The best way I can describe it is like reading a beautiful yet opaque poem where you can feel the emotion seeping through each word, but there’s a good chance a lot of meaning and context is flying over your head. But just as I’d reread those kinds of poems to understand them completely, Death of a Wish’s story will probably take me an additional playthrough to fully grasp.

death of a wish dialogue

Overall, Death of a Wish will treat you to excellent visual design and beautifully crafted combat. It’s definitely tough no matter if you’re taking on a standard enemy or a boss, but the challenge makes it all the more fun. While the story can be a bit cryptic at times, you’ll still walk away having grasped the stakes of Christian’s mission and the deep emotions behind it all.

9.00/10 9

Death of a Wish (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

With striking visuals and satisfyingly smooth combat, Death of a Wish is an action-packed RPG that you won’t want to miss.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alyssa Rochelle Payne

Alyssa Rochelle Payne

Staff Writer

Alyssa is great at saving NPCs from dragons. Then she writes about it.

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