After Death is a competently made metroidvania platformer. Everything from the graphics, to the music, to the level design has a level of polish. It seems like After Death could be the next Castlevania but one thing does hold it back. The combat and enemy encounters feel pretty uninspired.
I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. The combat works well. It’s just that there’s a lack of excitement when you come across an enemy in the game. They just kind of move back and forth until you kill them. Some do fight back later on. I haven’t beaten the game yet so I can’ speak for all of the enemies in the game but the ones in the beginning sure do feel rote. Serviceable, but rote. Maybe it’s the game easing you into fights so you don’t feel overwhelmed, I can’t say.
As a small tangent this does remind me of a conversation I had with a friend while playing Back 4 Blood. I personally do find the game pretty enjoyable, although it could use a bit more balancing in the cards in my honest opinion. My friend was mentioning how every enemy encounter in Back 4 Blood lacks excitement. Whenever a tall boy shows up, instead of feeling terror or excitement, it’s just a feeling of “oh well, guess we gotta shoot this guy a bunch until it dies again”.
Compare this to the sheer terror when a tank comes out in Left 4 Dead 2. Is the tank going to punt me off the map again? Is it going to manage to knock a car into the team and down everyone? Every encounter with the tank was an adventure while the specials in Back 4 Blood felt more uninspired.
Now I’m not putting the game down at all, as I previously said I actually enjoy the game. I would even go as far as to say that there are aspects of B4B that I find more enjoyable than L4D2. Every time I come across an encounter in a game that lacks excitement, I think back to that conversation and it definitely rings true for After Death, personally speaking.
The first boss encounter was kind of boring. I did die a few times but I defeated it by punching it in the face a couple of times and then jumping to the platform above to avoid any attacks and repeated the process. Now I’m sure the later encounters will probably be much more difficult and offer more variety in attack patterns but man was it kind of a forgettable experience.
I’m know this is only my opinion and that others out there will probably disagree and I can see why. The game is well produced and has a high level of polish. The game looks, sounds, and feels great. It definitely hearkens back to games like Castlevania.
You go around punching enemies and unlocking new abilities that let you go back and explore areas that were previous inaccessible. The metroidvania formula is tried and true and is here to stay for a reason. After Death is definitely a solid game in that same vein. There’s a certain level of satisfaction from mindlessly crawling through levels and defeating every enemy that comes across your way and managing to fully explore the map.
Overall, After Death is a competently made metroidvania game that for me, lacks a bit of excitement in the enemy encounters. Again, not necessarily a knock against the game but it does hold it back from becoming a timeless classic.