Platformers have never really been my type of game. I’m not the most patient person. But, as a player, I want to experience all that the world of games has to offer me. So, when I saw Death Tales by Arcade Distillery for my favorite console, the Nintendo Switch, I decided to give it a whirl. And what a whirl this game turned out to be indeed.
Right off the bat, the world is very whimsical and has an almost steampunk feel to it, with the enemies being plague doctors and occasionally robots made to look like various animals, like a chicken. The colors of the world also turned out to be bright and cheery, which is the opposite of what the game is.
Players take control of a reaper, who has been tasked by Death herself to complete various tasks for her. What those tasks are, I couldn’t tell you. Off the player goes on their platforming Death Tales adventure. Each world that players travel to has a different color scheme and feel to it.
The first world, called the Forest at Night, introduces the players to the characters and controls, is a warm color palette made up of oranges, yellows, and a little bit of greens. The third world, the Soulless realm, has the color palette of cool colors and is full of purples and blues and even some blacks.
The music is very whimsical for the game as well. Unfortunately, it didn’t stick with me beyond the game, but it did help set the tone of the game. The other thing that didn’t stick with me much was the story. Players are tasked with following Death’s orders, but I never really figured out what those orders were or how to finish them.
There are minor cut scenes made up of single cell images that move slightly, but the scrolling text at the bottom was easy to miss and I don’t remember much of what happened as far as the story went other than I was tasked with platforming and defeating enemies, so I did.
My biggest issue with Death Tales are the controls. They aren’t smooth. In fact, they can be rather clunky at times. Especially the jump button, which is essential in platformers. Players need to be able to move around the environment quickly and effectively. But Death Tales doesn’t offer this to players.
When pressing the jump button, the delay between pressing the button and the game actually doing the action. This led to several deaths because the reaper wouldn’t jump to begin with, or would jump too late or early to grab a ledge. It became so frustrating that I had to put the game down several times to cool off before continuing on. At least there aren’t any life counters to deal with or any bonuses for completing levels without dying or only dying a few times. Cause I was never able to make those.
This issue put a real damper on the game unfortunately. I wish that I could have continued playing it until the end. However, with the delay in jumping, which led to frustrating platforming issues, I couldn’t continue. Plus, when I tried to play world four, I often found my reaper frozen in place. I could pull up the pause menu, but I couldn’t attack, change items, or even move. Something a patch could fix, but it stopped me from pushing forward.
While the charm and feeling of Death Tales is present and draws the player in, the frustrating controls and delays create a sort of disappointing experience. Recommending this game is a little hard, but the price point is only $9.99, and if the glitch in world four gets patched, then I would say it could be an interesting adventure for those who love platformers. For those who are looking to have an excellent platforming experience, you may want to look elsewhere.
Images used were captured in game. Death Tales for the Nintendo Switch was given to the reviewer by the publisher for review purchases. Death Tales is available for digital download through the Nintendo eShop and on Steam.