Death or Treat
Developer: Saona Studios
Release Date: 12 May, 2023
Platform: Windows, Switch, PS 4/5, Xbox One
Genre: Beat 'em up
By Chris Picone, 07 May 2023
Death or Treat took me by surprised - it wasn't even on my radar but I fell in love with it the moment I saw the trailer. So cute!
The team have gone with the classic purple/green colour combo I've come to associate with "spooky." They've also gone with a high quality cartoony style which may make it look like a kid's title but this one's got a great sense of humour that's clearly aimed at a more mature player. Death or Treat is super polished; the cutscenes are AAA quality, the backgrounds exquisitely detailed, the character exceptionally cute, the animations super smooth, and it all works together seemlessly to come to life on the screen.
Gameplay is predominantly that of a platform-style beat'em'up. You can double jump, you get a base attack and an alternative attack, and a special ability, and you use these to jump around from platform to platform trying to find all the secret chests and killing every skeleton, pumpkin, zombie, dog, or head in a jar that comes your way. Some enemies drop resources when they die (for example, bats drop bat wings) and initially your goal is to collect as much of this as you can in order to restore all the shops in Hallowtown so you can start upgrading your weapons and abilities. But of course, this is a roguelike! When you're a bit tougher you'll be able to make it a little further in each run and if you make it far enough you eventually get to face a boss fight and if you survive that you progress to the next stage with new, harder enemies - and of course better resource drops to unlock superior weapons. Rinse, repeat. I'm only up to the third stage so far and just starting to unlock the next range of weapons, I'm having a lot of fun with it.
This is a really high quality, polished title that I was initially going to recommend this to any beat'em'up fan but the roguelike elements - which I particularly enjoyed - may not be for everyone. But if you like the idea of a roguelike beat'em'up, jump all over this one, it's terrific.