Have a Nice Death Review

Have a Nice Death Review

The life of an office worker can be extremely stressful, especially if you are in charge of every human who dies out there.

Have a Nice Death puts us in the shoes of Death, who has killed way too many people and is now drowning in paperwork. The situation is so dire that Death has reverted from his massive shadowy stature to a short and cute version of himself due to the sheer burnout.

As his dreams of taking a vacation slip away from his grasp, the grim reaper knows he needs to put things in order urgently so that he may find some rest.

Have a Nice Death
Developer: Magic Design Studios
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and Microsoft Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: March 22, 2023
Players: 1
Price: $24.99

Have a Nice Death doesn’t necessarily feature Death taking the lives of people, as it instead opts to have him fix his office from the inside, department by department.

Every stage that the player goes through is a different department of Death Inc., which feature the most likely causes of human death, like the addictions and physical illnesses departments.

Have a Nice Death gets away with a lot of uncomfortable themes and subject matter by not lingering on them too much, but the commentary is certainly there.

Each department features its own specific set of enemies, which are actually just workers related to that floor’s theme. We find out through the glossary that each worker is placed in a specific department depending on their manner of death, which helps tie the game’s themes together.

Some enemies have goofy designs, like the smokers, who are essentially just big cigarettes, while others, like the sullied, are the recycled life force of the employees who couldn’t bear the brunt of work, which plays into the game’s themes of burnout and exploitation.

Have a Nice Death would probably be a very miserable experience, tone-wise, if it weren’t for its cartoonish art style and good sense of humor. It’s quite clear that a lot of the game’s comedy is there to hold back some of its critiques from getting too real.

The game is entirely set in black and white, with very infrequent usage of color as a way to convey the blandness of office work. There’s something quite charming about the purposeful drabness present in the Death Inc. workplace and its departments.

It’s actually really impressive how Have a Nice Death manages to be so expressive while having such a muted color palette and dark tones, which in part can be attributed to the extremely detailed environments, cute character designs and clever writing.

Have a Nice Death has a staggering amount of contextual dialogue, as well as comedic side stories that players will watch develop as they move through a run.

One of the earliest side stories has players accompanying an employee who lost one of his shoes in a vat of cheese. Every few break rooms we get a little more development on this plot, usually with him being frustrated by the overly complicated corporate procedures to get his shoe back.

There’s always something going on with Death’s coworkers which helps to keep the player entertained as they grind through runs, in a manner similar to Supergiant’s Hades.

Death also has quite a staggering amount of dialogue with each of the department heads. Things start off pretty reasonable, as Death initially fights them to get the department in order, but they start getting increasingly weird or petty as you start new runs.

Gameplay-wise, Have a Nice Death is an extremely tight 2D hack-and-slash. Death has multiple weapons that perform different moves depending on what direction you aim at, and can also carry two sub-weapons with different synergies.

Players can get all sorts of different upgrades, like curses and status effects, as well as different scythe forms, which change your moveset substantially.

Despite having some really tight controls and a satisfying gameplay loop, Have a Nice Death features a pretty weak upgrade system. The weapons are all very fun to play around with, but the upgrades never substantially change your playstyle, which is unfortunately common to find in modern roguelikes.

The game’s difficulty is just right and usually only spikes during boss fights, as the regular enemies won’t give you much trouble unless you are locked into a combat room.

Not only do the bosses deal a lot of damage, but they also gain some new attacks if you fight them enough times, which helps keep runs fresh.

It really wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Have a Nice Death is the perfect framework for 2D hack-and-slash combat, despite its slight shortcomings when it comes to the roguelike side of things.

Have a Nice Death is tonally a very unique game, as it gets you thinking about uncomfortable subjects while veiling some of its critiques in humor, but never in a way that feels depressing or hopeless thanks to its fantastic writing.

The game’s approach to the subject matter of burnout and other issues that arise in the workplace is comedic in nature, but it still manages to be respectful, showing that anything can be poked at for fun as long as it’s done in a responsible manner.

The game may have some slight issues as far as run variety goes, but it still manages to feel conceptually fresh and worth playing, thanks to the extremely tight combat and controls.

Have a Nice Death was reviewed on Microsoft Windows using a game code provided by Gearbox Publishing. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Have a Nice Death is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and Microsoft Windows (through Steam).

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The Verdict: 9

The Good

  • The game's art style manages to make muted environments interesting to look at, which is an amazing feat
  • Have a Nice Death's controls are extremely tight, and the combat system is quite fun
  • There are lots of unlockables to work towards, including weapons, scythe forms, and mid-run upgrades
  • The bosses are all very fun to fight against, and offer very challenging barriers for the player to work towards beating
  • The clever writing helps with making the game funny instead of morose, especially when dealing with some heavier topics

The Bad

  • Some runs may feel a little same-y because of the game's upgrades, which don't change that much


Fan of skeletons, plays too many video games, MMO addict, soul-like and character action enthusiast.

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