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Have a Nice Death

This is an image from the video game “Have a Nice Death.” The OSV News classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is T -- teens. (OSV News photo/courtesy Gearbox Publishing)

(OSV News) — The Grim Reaper gets his house in order in the visually charming quest-themed game “Have a Nice Death” (Gearbox). Though its tone is more silly than morbid, gory images make this an unsuitable title for younger kids.

Feeling overtaxed and anxious to avoid burnout, Death incorporated himself. But lately, his employees have run amok. Paperwork gets misfiled, souls get misdirected, it’s a mess. So, before embarking on a well-deserved vacation, the CEO of the underworld decides to set things straight.

To do so, he embarks on a type of journey known to gamers as a dungeon crawl, one of the characteristic features of the roguelike subgenre of which “Have a Nice Death” is a 2D example. Dungeon crawls involve a series of challenges that must be met and overcome in order for the player to advance.

This crawl consists of five levels. Each is based on a different type of demise, ranging from the dramatic, e.g., a war, to the mundane: choking on a piece of gum.

The principal opponents players encounter are the Sorrows, top-level executives who once helped Death manage his business. Having grown arrogant and greedy, however, they now reap more souls than they are supposed to in order to maximize their profits.

Battles against these adversaries, so-called boss fights, can be punishingly difficult, but are also incredibly satisfying. Gamers will need to utilize the full gamut of weapons available in order to overcome them. Even when Death is defeated, though, he simply gets returned to his office to begin again.

The game’s hand-drawn artwork is delightful. And the sparkling soundtrack enhances this visual environment.

Endearingly lighthearted, “Have a Nice Death” takes a jaunty attitude toward the end of life. That’s an outlook with which Christians, freed by the Resurrection, can feel especially comfortable. As St. Thomas Aquinas once wrote: “From nature springs the fear of death, from grace springs audacity.”

Playable on Nintendo Switch and PC.

The game contains mostly cartoonish violence with some bloody effects. The OSV News classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Entertainment Software Rating Board rating is T — teen.

Adele Chapline Smith reviews video games for OSV News.

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