When Angels of Death first cropped up on the Switchs eShop I’ll admit I wasn’t particularly interested. I mean the character design and horror setting looked cool but I didn’t particularly think this RPG Maker title had much else going for it. That was until I was browsing the anime app FunimationNow which was advertising a new anime called Angels of Death. I thought surely it can’t be connect to that little indie title can it? Well it most certainly was and after watching the first episode I was hooked and I knew I had to get the game.
The story focuses on 13 year old Rachel Gardner who finds herself in an unfamiliar room having last thought she was in a hospital. Upon investigating she happens up an elevator that takes her to a dank slums environment complete with boarded up windows, police blockades and bloodied alleyways. It’s here that she meets, the heavily bandaged, scythe wielding psycho murderer Zack. It’s then through a series of events this unlikely pairing team up to escape whatever hell they’ve found themselves in with Rachel acting as the Brains and Zack the Brawn. That is after you escape Zack’s blood fuelled rampage.
Angels of Death consists of four chapters, each taking around 2 hours to complete, by which time developer Hoshikuzu KRNKRN weaves a fast moving psychological thriller that really draws you in (I sat and played the game in a single sitting). It’s dark, tense even heart breaking at certain points but it’s kept fresh with some well-timed humour. The main pull is the dynamic between Zack and Rachel and we get to see it develop nicely over the course of the game. Both characters clearly have dark pasts, particularly Ray who seems to be hiding something, but the short concise conversations between the two keeps it light. Zacks crazy full throttle attitude plays very off Ray’s blunt and to the point attitude providing us a fun character drama.
While it has been completely stripped down the game’s been built with RPG Maker software, so it’s really accessible for players without the need for instruction. In the same vein the rest of the gameplay is just as linear and to the point. Easy lock and key puzzles with little fumbling around for answers a streamlined inventory system and minimal level design to keep the player focused on the task at hand. Even when the possibility of death crops up, a save prompt is brought up meaning you can quickly jump back to the story.
The puzzles, like I said before, are for the most part straightforward taking little effort to solve. There are some fun instances with a chase through a maze and a locked room scenario which were both suitably tense but it’s clear that the story is the main focus of the game. Essentially Angels of Death is just a visual novel but I appreciate these little gameplay breaks, which makes it all the more engaging as opposed to just clicking thorough pages of text for hours on end.
My main gripe with the game is that it’s simply over two soon and in some regards we’re left with unanswered questions. Zack and Ray are very fleshed out by the end of the story but the same sadly can’t be said for the killers we meet along the way. A little added background to Eddie and Cathy would have gone a long way. Also while I really enjoyed the story it’s not uncommon for games like this to have multiple endings. I think the Angels of Death could have really benefitted with an alternate ending or two and with the puzzles gameplay it really wouldn’t have been difficult to pull it off. It would have also provided some much needed replay value as, once completed, there is no incentive to return.
There is no soundtrack as such, just ambient noise to create an air of tension which it does perfectly. Slow and meticulous while exploring and then quick and upbeat when while on the run from a killer. It’s also emphasised by a number of well-timed sound cues. The stand out clip has got to go to Zacks cheery maniacal laugh a sound that really grows you on you by the end. Now in terms of graphics well, it’s an RPG maker game so don’t expect too much. That said the minimal artstyle and some of the pixel work is very charming. Character profiles stand out and their sprites have been well worked, with just enough detail to give a clear picture of the character and the emotions they’re portraying.
Angels of Death isn’t going to be for everyone, it’s more a thought-provoking visual novel than tense survival puzzler, but it packs a satisfying tale you’ll quickly find hard to put down. It’s dark, violent and topped with just the right blend of humour, I just wish there was more of it. The little bursts of gameplay helped to keep me engaged, it’s just a bit disappointing that it was all too linear, and a real challenge never emerged. If you’re a fan of quirky psychological thrillers, it’s worth checking out this charming little indie title.
Oh and like I said at the beginning of this review an anime is currently airing and there is ongoing manga both of which are going well and definitely worth a look.
Angels of Death is available on Nintendo Switch and PC.
What We Thought
- Intriguing well developed story
- Two well fleshed out characters
- Little burst of gameplay to hold interest
- Charming art style
- Some characters lacking development
- Linear gameplay with little challenge
- Zero replay value