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Review: Death or Treat | Xbox

Step into the Halloween chaos of Death or Treat, a roguelike 2D action game that takes you on an exciting journey through HallowTown.

Death or Treat screenshot

Welcome to HallowTown

In Death or Treat, the narrative revolves around HallowTown, a town in distress due to the villainous Clark Fackerberg (Mark Zuckerburg) and his malevolent corporation, FaceBoo! The game cleverly reflects the real-world phenomenon of social media draining the joy out of life. During the course of the game, you will battle against the forces of DarkChat, RipTok, Deviltube, and DeathFlix! Not the first enemies you would expect to see in a Halloween-themed game but a nice    idea.

Visually, Death or Treat is nothing short of stunning with its gorgeous sprites and environments reminiscent of a 90’s cartoon. The fluid animations further enhance the game’s look and feel and I would definitely give the artists and animators a Netflix show to create this as a cartoon. Sadly, the masses of text to read and the occasional unreadable font will detract from the story and you’ll skip right past.

Death or Treat screenshot

Meet Scary

In the game, you play as Scary, a candy manufacturer running Ghost Mart. Upon arriving in HallowTown, everyone has been replaced by monsters (the bad kind). The gameplay mechanics in Death or Treat follow the expected formula of a melee-focused 2D action game. Running, jumping, and unleashing attacks while dashing away from danger form the core gameplay loop. The controls are intuitive and responsive, allowing for smooth traversal. However, be prepared for a challenging experience, as the difficulty can become steep at times.

Death or Treat screenshot

Fight Diverse Monsters

Death or Treat surprises with its engaging combat system, featuring a diverse range of enemies. From long-range bomb throwers to hammer-wielding foes, each encounter offers a unique challenge. Additionally, the game introduces flying creatures that can be defeated by redirecting their projectiles. Notably, weaker enemies can be juggled and slammed into the ground with satisfying uppercut attacks. Choosing abilities before each run adds strategic depth, with the boomerang ability standing out as a personal favorite, capable of devastating crowds of adversaries. The inclusion of puzzle elements in boss fights adds further variety and rewards strategic thinking.

Death or Treat screenshot

Unlocking Progression

After each run, Death or Treat presents an opportunity to invest collected materials in rejuvenating HallowTown’s shops which act as the Hub World like in Hollow Knight. This progression system allows you to spend earned candies and collected ingredients to purchase upgrades. From new weapons to enhanced skills and expanded health, the rewards are satisfying. Unlocking a new weapon brings the joy of dispatching enemies with fewer hits. However, the cost of many upgrades can be high, requiring significant grinding, which can dampen the fun. The repetition of starting areas for shortcuts also becomes tedious over time.

Death or Treat screenshot

A Few Scares Short of a Haunting

Although Death or Treat boasts procedurally generated stretches, the gameplay still falls victim to repetition, offering the same scenarios too frequently. This repetitiveness sets in early and can be disappointing for players seeking more variety. Furthermore, several glitches and performance issues mar the experience. These technical problems can cause unnecessary stress and detract from the overall immersion.

Death or Treat delivers a highly enjoyable 2D action roguelike experience, with immersive combat that will have you gleefully juggling Halloween monstrosities while they spew out candy like piñatas. The tight 2D action, diverse enemy types, and excellent visuals contribute to a satisfying gameplay experience. Death or Treat manages to capture the essence of Halloween in an entertaining way and it’s hard not to love the stunning visuals. However, the need for extensive grinding and the repetitive nature of scenarios may deter some players. Additionally, the presence of annoying bugs and performance issues is an unfortunate downside. Despite these shortcomings, fans of the genre will enjoy the 4+ hours of gameplay to beat the game, but few will return to the game once complete.


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