Have a Nice Death (PS5) Review - Dark Humor for All 34534

Have a Nice Death (PS5) Review – Dark Humor for All

Earlier this year Have a Nice Death surprised players by adding fantastic dark humor to the ongoing roguelite trend. It was something we, along with many other critics, really enjoyed. However, limiting it to Nintendo Switch, and PC was a bit unfortunate. With Have a Nice Death available on PlayStation and Xbox devices, we wanted to revisit it to see if it addresses the concerns we had with the Nintendo Switch version.

It’s rare that an opening cinematic amuses me as much as Have a Nice Death‘s did. Instead of portraying Death as an intimidating fellow, he is closer to a Looney Tunes character stuck in a dead-end job. There is an amusing sequence of him working hard to collect the souls from a wide variety of deaths, both tragic and comedic, before having the idea to create a company to do the work for him. Overtime his power diminishes as the freedom the corporation offered becomes a different prison. It’s an unfortunately relatable situation that retains the same humor going into an endless stream of approving paperwork.

With Death now taking a more active role you get to see how the world has changed since your departure. Levels are largely designed with a dark aesthetic centered around certain elements. There is an area devoted to drugs, food, pollution, and you get the point. What makes the concept work is a good balance between common roguelike elements, and the delightful humor.

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Levels are generally straightforward. There are a couple enemies, occasionally there will be a gauntlet for additional bonuses, with rewards sprinkled throughout. Sometimes you’ll get your choice of a power enhancement, other times new powers, with these elements expanding as you progress. What I like about the systems is a good understanding of opportunity cost.

A lot of these games center on a single item, or at least items, that are clearly better than everything else. There are some in Have a Nice Death, but most hinge on the path you take. For example, the sword is great for predictable enemies, though bad for those harder to predict. Close range magic can be amazing, unless you get enemies that are strongest at said range. You’ll have some control over your destiny, though not enough where there is an objective good/bad option. You’ll oftentimes need to make the most of whatever you have. This, to me, is the fundamental aspect that makes the genre so intriguing.

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Whenever you finish a level you’ll have the option of various floors. Each has a clear benefit, making the choice somewhat difficult. I personally like to pick on bosses, even if that results in me sometimes not having a nice death. Some other big choices include spells, resources, and visiting the vault.

An interesting element are tying worlds to paths. There isn’t a set path forward, just options that boost a specific type of power. This goes back to how opportunity cost works, as you might want one set, but prefer another level set. There are reasons to explore all the options, something you’ll probably do, which gives Have a Nice Death a fair amount of replay value.

I also really like its approach to improving. First and foremost, there is an area to actually try each and every ability. This is massive for determining how to play, or which choices you might make on a given run. Especially since these options are typically steeped in mystery until RNG blesses/curses you. The other is the unlockable system itself.

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Word Harder or Unlock it Now

Most games in the genre use the same gameplay loop. Certain items are locked behind tasks, others can be purchased, with everything building overtime. With Have a Nice Death, progression discounts options. Some are still locked behind progression, though if guides say the best item in the game is the one you get for beating the final boss, you can actually purchase it for a premium to make your journey easier. It’s a small touch that I think a lot of players are going to appreciate.

Another thing I can’t say enough is how much I enjoy the humor. There aren’t a lot of scenes where it appears, but you’ll get a variety of different interactions before and after a boss battle. They all have the same cynical humor found in the opening, so if you’re like me and love it, you’ll probably find yourself reading every encounter and laughing.

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I… Don’t Recall Wanting to Be There for the Tutorial

Combat is also simple fun. Outside of the wide array of optional items, you need to overcome obstacles with your basic weapon, and an evasive move. It has some depth, along with a variety of different starting weapons that add a delightful learning curve. Like, the downward strike tends to stun lesser enemies, making it a safe tactic to rely on. However, bigger enemies will typically punish you, so it isn’t mindless either. But, once you get a feel for things it’s a lot of fun to experience.

While performance was lackluster on Switch, I am pleased to say it’s much better on PlayStation 5. I didn’t notice frame rate issues, loading problems, or any other annoying quirks. Outside of the occasional extra second for loading it just worked. The only different that became apparent is how you can’t cancel into a dodge. Regardless of how annoying that can be, it’s also a design choice that can easily be adapted for. If anything it forces less mindless tactics.

The only negative that remains true is level design. I get the black aesthetic, white and gooey look is atmospheric of this universes hell, it makes levels feel the same. It isn’t like Enter the Gungeon where I can clearly tell the world apart, you need to look at the finer details of each level to determine what is going on. This is unfortunate, as the repetitive nature of the genre amplifies this issue.

Have a Nice Death (PS5) Review Verdict

Editor's Choice

Have a Nice Death: I genuinely enjoyed Have a Nice Death on Nintendo Switch. It was a fun game with humor that really elevated the final product. Now that modern consoles, such as PlayStation 5, don't have the performance issues it's an easy choice looking for a rougelike to explore. It has so much going for it, with an accessible learning curve. So if you are on the fence, but love the genre, you'll almost certainly enjoy this experience. Grant

von 10

Editor’s Note: Have a Nice Death was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes. This review reuses parts from our Nintendo Switch version, with relevant details changed to reflect changes found on the PlayStation version.

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