Review: Death Coming

By Dick Page 28 May 2018 0

Review: Death Coming

Released 15 Mar 2018

Developer: Sixjoy
Genre: Puzzle
Available from:
App Store
Google Play
Reviewed on: iPhone SE, iPhone 6+

Death Coming is a cute pixel game of Where's Wally twisted in with Final Destination. It's a murder simulator with the player taking the role of an omnipresent servant of Death. You are tasked with offing a certain number of people in a detailed pixel-art scene through manipulating the environment towards various horrible accidents and  mayhem.

The pixel artwork is awesome, reminiscent of a really great Kairosoft game. Everything is clear and distinct even at a distance, although the game is definitely better sized for tablets and larger phones. The characters are cute and expressive in their tiny little animations. They bounce around and communicate with body language and word bubble rebuses. It's easy to find traps to trigger and deduce what will probably happen when you hit them. One thing I would like to see would be a little more variety in the death animations. Most of the time, people just plop over and spill some blood on the ground. How about some adorable chibi gore? Maybe a loose head that could be kicked around?

DeathC1

The levels are really varied and imaginative as well, and a great change of pace from your typical game settings. Among others, you'll visit an arms factory, a ski resort, and the craziest museum ever. Seriously, what kind of museum has a magic lamp, a mummy's pyramid, a dinosaur, and a vampire? Each level also has little stories woven through it, so you can, for example, help an illicit couple get together first before you kill them horribly. Other levels change dramatically with the weather.

Controls are simple and effective. Tapping once will identify death-traps and get them ready to spring. If not, you'll get some info about what preconditions must be met to trigger the traps. You often also get a targeted area for each trap, making it easier to hit your mark. Each level has a kill goal for higher scores, as well as three key targets that will require more effort but bigger rewards. You'll need skills of observation, deduction and patience to get the biggest scores, but it's also amusing just to see what toys you have in the toy box this time.

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Some of the extermination techniques are really quite clever and fun to discover. I can honestly say I've never before in a video game electrocuted a crowd of people by smashing a giant aquarium with an arrow shot from a cupid statue. Catching the key targets can be tricky, requiring timing and planning, and not a little trial-and-error. But it is also very satisfying to annihilate a group of schoolkids on a museum tour by bringing a fire-breathing dinosaur to life near them.

Unlocking new and more diabolical ways of killing folks is so much fun it’s a real shame the game spoils it with frustrating limitations. Many traps can only be triggered once or a limited number of times. Because you don't always know what triggering a trap will do the first time you try, you may miss an opportunity for a nice massacre--which can lead to struggles to make your quota at the end of a level. But that's just the first frustration.

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The real game spoilers are the angels that serve the role of roving guards. Like a typical stealth murder spree simulator, they have waggling vision cones and if they spot you even prepping a fatal accident (not just actually executing it) you’re in a bit of trouble. There aren't any alarm levels like in stealth games and getting spotted once doesn't change anything about how the level reacts to your finger. You just get three lives and that’s it. This will drive you crazy if you are at the end of a level and zoomed in tight just trying to drop one more flowerpot on one more adorable cartoon person and an angel swoops in from outside your field of view to narc on you to the big man.

Worst of all, if you fail a level, either by not being able to kill enough people or by getting caught slaying three times, you have to start the whole thing over. This isn't the end of the world since the levels aren't incredibly long once you've figured out the tricks to decimating the population. It is, however, very frustrating, especially if you have to watch some non-interactive cutscenes over again and tippy-tap on all the same traps once more. The decision to add the angels to the game is a really confusing one. Perhaps the developers thought the puzzles didn't stand on their own or wanted to have some kind of more 'game-like' element of danger.

Overall, though, Death Coming is a fun lightweight puzzler with great art and creative environments. It's frustrating the devs didn't trust their core gameplay enough to avoid gumming it up with unnecessary frustrations.

An adorably black-humored puzzle game imperfectly executed.

Review: Death Coming

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