Death Tales Review – A Treat for the Eyes, Not Much Else

Death Tales is a 2D sidescrolling beat ’em up with some light RPG elements.

Let’s get the main talking point out of the way first. The most unique thing about this game is its aesthetic. Arcade Distiller have come up with an art style that just doesn’t look like any other game out there. I didn’t know how to feel about it at first, but maybe that’s just because it looks so strange.

It’s dark yet colourful and it looks great in motion too. It looks especially good in the darker themed levels like the forest at night time, where you have this big Cheshire cat figure leering down at you in the background.

There’s no denying this game is visually striking!

I think it’s fair to say the aesthetic is probably the most interesting part of the game, unfortunately. The music is quite good but I don’t think it fits most of the time. It’s grandiose orchestral music with many tracks incorporating a chanting choir for extra foreboding epicness. It matches the visuals but it seems at odds with the gameplay.

So like I said, it’s a 2D beat ’em up with a little bit of RPG in there. It’s not bad, at the start at least. You’re shown a few basic combos at the beginning of the game and there’s clearly room to grow. You’ve also got a decent equipment system with a slot each for weapon, helmet and armour, and two for spells. The best part is that you can have up to five gear sets you can switch between whenever.

It seems promising but unfortunately it doesn’t really live up to that initial promise. The list of moves you have is very small. There’s a light attack, heavy attack and two combos you can do. That’s it for the whole game. Weapon variety is also lacking.

That’s pretty much the whole game right there.

At the end of each level you’re given a choice between 3 rewards. Usually, it’s a health or magic upgrade, money or gear. There isn’t much to differentiate each weapon or armour set. They have exactly one feature each and most aren’t all that useful. The rewards also seem to be randomly generated and I undoubtedly got the best weapon after the first level, meaning the rest were completely worthless.

Having some different weapon types would’ve been a huge plus because there isn’t much variety in the level or enemy design. Levels are very basic with the odd bit of light platforming here and there. They’re also filled with enemies of course, but you’ll get tired of seeing the same ones over and over again. Enemy designs are re-used throughout the game’s worlds but with different colours.

On top of that, the monsters just aren’t much fun to fight. Apart from the fact you only have some basic combos to use, the fighting itself feels heavy yet floaty at the same time. Attacks are slow and don’t seem to hit very hard. Even your longest combos can’t stun enemies, meaning that you’re best strategy is usually just to hit them once or twice and run away because they can easily break out of a combo and stagger you with a basic attack.

The green enemy appears in both strawberry and blue raspberry flavour, depending on what level you’re in.

I think basic is the best way to describe this game. The levels don’t have much going on in them and neither does the combat. You have only 3 inventory slots and there’s very little difference between weapon and armour. The game also offers narrative choices at times but either way you get a reward at the end. Also, there is a story but it’s forgettable. Every now and then, cut scenes happen in between levels but they have nothing to do with what you’re actually doing in the game.

All in all, I’d say this game isn’t really worth playing unless the aesthetic is enough for you. It’s not awful but it doesn’t really do anything particularly well. There is a lot of room for improvement, so let’s hope Arcade Distillery improves in their future games.

If you would like to play it, it’s available on Steam for less than £10. It’s also on Switch, Xbox, and PS4 and PS5.

Have you played Death Tales or any of Arcade Distiller’s other games? Feel free to let me know what you thought about them in the comments.

And for more random thoughts on games and updates on new articles and reviews, follow me on Twitter @Kevlooks

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