What do you hope happens to you upon your departure from this world? Do you hope to see a bright light which you can use to ascend to the heavens? Maybe you’d like to be reunited with loved ones for an eternity? Perhaps you don’t believe in the afterlife and are at peace with knowing that there’s nothing but darkness once your time on the Earth runs out? Or, What if you were given a task to complete and upon successfully passing it, you’re allowed to return home! Well, Death Coming is based around this idea.
Take control of a recently deceased individual who makes a deal with Death in order to obtain one more shot at life. Death Coming is a puzzle game where every playthrough is different and each attempt will leave you with more knowledge for your next run through. It’s all very ‘trial and error’, yet it’s also very logical and predictable. Let’s take a look…
The story of Death Coming is very similar to what we’ve seen in films and TV shows. A few examples of this would be Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Dead Like Me, and even The Ghost Whisperer (to an extent). Each of these has the spirits of the departed either given a chance to prove themselves so they can return home, given the chance to return to Earth as Death’s worker, or left wandering aimlessly as they try to complete a task before they can move on.
Basically, you’re dead. However, Death shows himself and presents you with an interesting proposition – if you take the reigns and manage to kill a certain number of living souls so that they can be harvested, then you’ll be allowed to return to your body as if nothing had happened! Sounds easy, doesn’t it! It would be if you weren’t given the same restriction that Death has – he can’t directly kill anyone, only influence and manipulate inanimate objects and plants in order to do his bidding – similar to what we’ve seen in the Final Destination movies.
As you work through seven elaborate death simulation sandboxes, you’ll not only have to think five steps ahead, but you’ll also have to look out of the Minions of Light who have been sent to police the mischievous work you’ve taken on. Being dead has never been such hard work!
Mobile or console game?
My first and only gripe with Death Coming are the controls. The game originally came out on mobile devices and PC, with both touch and mouse control being the main focus. I’ve played the game on an iPhone and it’s so simple to just tap away at the various objects and pinch to zoom in and out, and I’ve seen footage of people playing it easily on PC. However, the adaptation of the PS4 controller isn’t the best, if I’m being honest. Everything works fine, you can zoom in and out the with Right shoulder buttons, select and cancel interactions with the face buttons, and move with the Left control stick. The issue is the artificial acceleration.
Just like mouse acceleration on the PC, Death Coming will make your cursor gradually move faster and faster the longer you hold a direction down. On a PC, this is used so you don’t have to move the mouse a lot in order to navigate around the screen or play games which require fast reflexes or big movements. But, in this game, it feels out of control and annoying. I would constantly fly past the thing I want to click on because the cursor was going too fast, meaning I had to stop then pull it back to readjust. It’s not a big issue, but it does get really irritating.
What I would have liked to see would be a control method similar to how some Artifex Mundi games operate, the Left stick moves the cursor at full speed and the Right stick is half speed or less, for more precise selections. I would love to say that I got used to the sporadic movements by the end of the game, but I didn’t. Saying that, this didn’t actually impact my enjoyment I had with the title, it’s just a QoL issue that I personally had with the game. **Update – I’ve just realised you can use the D-Pad to slowly move your cursor. It still has acceleration on there, but it’s not as much as the Left control stick**
Also, the game constantly tells you to ‘tap’ the screen to continue. A bit more care could have gone into the port in terms of changing the wording and making the game a bit better with the controller, but nothing was game breaking or a reason to stop playing.
As a temporary employee for Death (like Mort from Discworld or Georgia from Dead Like Me), it’s your job to kill off the human race by any means possible. That’s not me exaggerating here, you have seven sandbox levels which are packed full of death traps just waiting to be touched by an angel (of death). In order to receive the best possible score, everyone must die – this isn’t simple though as it’s very easy to cock up and set off a trap too early thus wasting your chance at killing someone off. As such, unless you’re really lucky, you’ll most likely replay the same missions over and over again until you know it like the back of your hand.
The deaths are all rather comical if slightly morbid. The first level, for example, places you in a standard town as you see 58 people going about their business from an isometric pixel-art viewpoint. Just some of the ‘accidents’ you can influence include messing with the traffic lights so people walk out into traffic or cars think the lights are green, drop a plant pot on the head of a maid so flammable goods set a bunch of people alight, drop a sign on a bunch of dancers, or maybe topple a soda machine on someone and crush them…
As the levels advance, so does the gameplay. It’ll start to introduce timed events through the form of weather. One level will give you three minutes until the snow falls, snow which blocks certain traps from being used anymore. You’ll have other levels where you can control the weather or it’ll randomly change, there’s even a level where thieves are trying to steal things and taking them out causes them to drop bombs or keys to other areas. For a game with a simple concept, it really surprised me with how much content and diversity there was within it.
Okay, so Death Coming wants you to kill everyone, but you’re not restricted from moving on if you don’t meet the full quota. Instead, you have a death counter within the mission that shows how many people you’ve knocked off. It displays three numbers, Gold, Silver and Bronze. If you hit either of those numbers (with Bronze being the lowest), then you can proceed to the next level – otherwise, you’ll have to restart the mission again! You’re also given an image of three people you should keep an eye on. These three are worth the most points and are required if you’re going for all the trophies.
In case you didn’t catch that – you get points for every person you kill. At the end of a mission, you’re shown the global rankings and if you’ve made the top 100 or not. I made a few of the rankings but I didn’t come anywhere near the scores other people have got! I have no idea how anyone could achieve the scores I’ve seen on there!
The game even throws in a few incredibly hard mini-games for you to play as well. These, again, don’t really serve any purpose other than to split up the missions and a PSN trophy. Speaking of which – there is no Platinum trophy and some of them are really hard to obtain, such as killing every single human in each of the levels and getting a lot of kills in the bonus missions.
Death Coming is very charming and looks great both on smaller mobile devices and blown up to the TV. Pixel art games are sometimes not really made out for a big TV due to their style, but I’ve seen a lot recently where the art style works great in both instances. One thing which was a bit irritating about the visual design was that the sixth level had a bit of the narrative in the opening ‘cinematic’ covered up and you can’t read it. This isn’t a porting issue either as it was like this on the PC version as well – it’s just never been fixed. Luckily the missions all play out the same, so the narrative isn’t essential, but it would have been nice to read what they were saying.
Although the game covers some rather morbid subjects and some of the deaths can be a little brutal, it’s all done in a comedic fashion with cute little characters – so I don’t see this game being an issue for people of any age to play.
Soundwise we don’t really have much to talk about! There’s no voice acting as the story and narrative take a back seat to the addictive gameplay. However, the music is very catchy and upbeat for a game all about death – I’m sure I heard “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” in there at one point! I also found I was humming along to the tunes after a few hours.
For a game about death and murder, Death Coming has rather comical and upbeat gameplay. No two playthroughs will be the same as each NPC has their own set agenda which could change based on the weather that kicks in or become altered if you failed to activate a trap in time. This game is basically one giant logical ‘trial and error’ game in which you must think a few steps ahead in order to perform genocide and emerge the victor. I doubt you’ve played anything quite like this within the last few years (at least).
What’s the saying? “If you can’t beat them, join them”… That’s exactly what’s happened here – why fight Death when you can get what you want by joining him for a few ‘innocent’ slaughter-fests…
- - Multiple ways to kill everyone
- - Catchy music and funny narrative, even some pop-culture references
- - Some funny deaths which you wouldn't expect to happen
- - Very addictive
- - Art style is great as it adds a comedic tone to an otherwise morbid subject
- - Acceleration on the cursor is too much, even if you turn the speed right down
- - Some issues with hidden text on one of the levels
- - The bonus missions are really, really hard