A video game created by just two people is topping the charts and cementing itself as one of the best games of the year.
The creators of Death’s Door tell 9news.com.au the game’s release has exceeded their expectations with over 100,000 people downloading the title in the first week.
“Nothing could’ve gone better. It’s kind of just our wildest expectations have been met,” developer David Fenn said.
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Exclusive to Xbox and PC, Death’s Door has proven that you don’t need a multi-million-dollar studio budget to produce AAA quality.
While they did call in help here and there, Death’s Door was primarily programmed, produced and designed by the two-man team at Acid Nerve in Manchester in the United Kingdom.
Mr Fenn said they tend to collaborate with a team of artists for each game.
“So for Death’s Door, there were three artists working on the team as well, a couple of concept artists and a modeller,” he said.
Mark Foster is the other half of the game studio, claiming the title of game programmer, designer, writer and animator, while Mr Fenn is a producer, designer, composer and sound designer.
Following the success of their previous game, Titan Souls, Mr Foster and Mr Fenn wanted to take their game making to the next level.
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“We wanted to take a more traditional idea, like the Zelda formula and make it our own thing with that. That was the core of what we wanted to do when we started the game,” Mr Foster said.
“We wanted to take that core DNA of that game (Titan Souls) and make a ‘proper game’ out of it.
“Like something with more fleshed out systems.”
A stand out is Death’s Door‘s soundtrack, developed entirely in house by Mr Fenn.
The music sets the game’s tone from the beginning and doesn’t miss a beat.
“A lot of the core mood of the soundtrack and the distinctive atmosphere of the game we’ve had since the very first prototype,” Mr Fenn said.
“We can feed design and music into each other at the same time.”
The game’s art style has been influenced by a smorgasbord of media, from Zelda and Dark Souls to the minds of Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli.
“Baba Yaga, the old grandma in Spirited Away, she’s a clear inspiration for Grandma and Pothead is an homage to the Onion Knight from Dark Souls,” Mr Foster said.
When the pandemic hit, Mr Foster and Mr Fenn were about halfway through Death’s Door‘s development, and while they did face challenges, Acid Nerve were no strangers to working remotely.
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“Although we had just moved into a nice new office for the last year, which we were really loving, and then we were like ok, back to the old way, back home. But luckily for us, it was not very impactful,” Mr Fenn said.
Many Xbox exclusives these days end up on Xbox Game Pass, but for Death’s Door, the studio let publishers Devolver Digital take the wheel.
“It was always Xbox exclusive, that was the plan from the very beginning,” Mr Foster said.
“It seems like people are actually willing to buy a game in 2021, which is a nice surprise.”
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While they couldn’t confirm if the game will make its way to Nintendo Switch, Mr Fenn said porting the game to Switch is the biggest question fans are asking right now.
“There’s no current plans we can announce today … but Switch is a very popular request for game developers these days,” he said.
Death’s Door is easily one of the best video games of the year, placing itself firmly alongside AAA titles Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Returnal and Resident Evil: Village – coincidently all PS5 exclusive games.
It’s a steal at only $30 and is available now on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC.