Death or Treat is a 2D hack and slash game, you play as Specter, a ghost who decided to take down social media because of its negative influence in candy sales. The game just released and we took a look at the demo.
The game looks beautiful with its hand-painted art, everything is animated smoothly and we are also treated to a very nice intro cutscene, it really manages to nail the feeling of a hidden gem you would find during Cartoon Network’s midnight programming.
Unfortunately, the attention put into visuals was not put into gameplay. Death or Treat attempts hack and slash gameplay but has no depth, there are no combo routes and your main tools are a weak attack, a strong attack, and a stiff launcher that doesn’t work on most enemies.
This is a preview coupled with a supplemental video preview. You can watch the video preview or read the full preview of the below:
The game’s distinctive style carries on to the combat animations, but combat itself just feels bland, enemies just mostly sit there and do their one attack.
The ones that can be juggled never stood a chance at living, as they just float awkwardly and die. The most dangerous enemies in the game are the bats, because they fly at a weird angle, but once you hit them two or three times they also die just like everything else.
We only have one level and a boss fight in the demo, the levels are randomized but it doesn’t really matter, since enemy placement and platforming aren’t a major concern for the player. You just walk up to something, launch it if it can be launched, and kill it.
The boss fight at the end of the demo is a puzzle that when completed makes the boss fall in the middle of the arena. I’m personally not a fan of bosses with invincibility phases, I think the more interesting aspect of a boss fight is figuring the pattern and looking for your opening, but it isn’t so bad that it’s offensive.
In fact, nothing in the game is really offensive, I can’t say that there is anything horribly wrong with Death or Treat, but I also can’t find anything to complement aside from the art style. I certainly played a video-game, but if every game felt as uninteresting as this one I would have changed hobbies a long time ago.
Death or Treat lacks anything that would make a roguelite interesting or replayable, its core gameplay is the equivalent of licking cardboard, you get about one item per run which barely makes a difference, the enemies just walk around waiting to get juggled, and nothing stands in the player’s way in a significant manner.
The game also has a city-building mechanic, and beating the demo twice still didn’t give me enough to repair any of the buildings or change anything about my runs.
So I felt like I wasted my time and worked towards nothing, especially since the resources needed are random drops that I have no control over. Sure, I can go and grind the levels four more times, but I shouldn’t have to do it for a crumb of progress.
I can’t see a positive future for Death or Treat unless it gets reworked in a major way, we are truly scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to roguelites.
Death or Treat is very similar to Have a Nice Death, another roguelite where you play as a spooky character, they have the same bones concept-wise but it’s more of a “I raided the cemetery” than a “I run the museum” vibe, you can clearly see elements from the game present in Death or Treat, just not done as well.
Death or Treat just released on May 5th, 2023, for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Windows (through Steam).