The Idiot Gamer: “Death Coming”

I won’t lie; I love a good puzzle game. So when I saw that “Death Coming” by NExT Interactive was only $7 on the Epic Games store, I couldn’t resist.
“Death Coming” isn’t just your run of the mill puzzle game—its sandbox-like world and nonlinear storylines make it an absolute joy to play.
“Death Coming” greets the player with bright, pixel-art graphics and a lighthearted theme. At first, a snake eating its tail appears on the loading screen, and then you’re informed that, oh, hey, by the way, you’re dead.
Lucky for you, the Reaper (in all his pixelated glory) has come to make a deal. You can join him and get “a crash course on death,” or you can fade to black. Then the game just immediately informs you that you don’t have a choice. Cool.
I was immediately intrigued by the dichotomy of the subject matter versus the presentation. The animations are silly and ridiculous, but the premise is straightforward—in order to score points and progress, I have to electrocute, poison, murder and destroy as many little NPCs as I can.
The game is set up in third person, and the player can click on different objects they might think are “death traps,” such as an AC unit hanging on by a thread or a precariously-placed flowerpot. Given how many of the latter appear in each level, you’d think people living in this universe would have figured that out by now. Nevertheless, every single death is gratuitous and thrilling.
After the tutorial level, you’re treated to a city block full of people and hidden death traps. While the level presents nearly 40 ways to relieve the legless NPCs of their lives, your targets are actually only fourfold: three specific civilians and a certain kill count. Timing is a big part of the game—if you click too early or too late, you might not end up killing your target. Outside of the three targets, everyone else is fair game. According to online guides, it is possible to kill everyone, but hitting the minimum of 32 is enough to proceed to the next level.
A personal favorite feature of this game for me is the high pitched voice that yells, “Triple Kill!” and “Mega Kill!” when I’ve performed a combination of ridiculous objectives like dropping window washing platforms (with washers) on other unsuspecting NPCS.
If you’re stuck, the game offers a set of silhouettes in the hint menu, each corresponding to a different trap to be found. Without the menu, I found 15 out of the 22, but needed it for the rest.
On my first pass through, I managed 45/58 kills, which I was proud of. After each level, or “act,” the game offers statistics, showing the number of combos and the biggest group killed (27).
The Reaper appears to give advice, even complimenting the player on their uncanny ability to kill. “You’re surprisingly good at this,” he says after another tutorial level. “Keep your hands where I can see them.”
Throughout the levels, there is lots for the player to explore. Each character has a name and a little tag line, and every death trap has a little blurb with it, too. Coconuts on conspicuous palm trees suggest that they were carried by a swallow, a Monty Python reference. Some windows in some buildings open, showing a scantily clad female NPC holding a bra or a cat just hanging out.
One level has a character that looks just like Kim Jong Un, but never explicitly tells the player that’s who he is—just that he’s the “Glorious Leader” of the NPCs in the “Boom Boom Room.” “He displeases me,” says the Reaper. “Kill him and all his workers.”
After the first level, the game becomes much harder due to the levels’ sheer sizes and animations. In the city block level, there are few distractions. In a factory level, there is constant moving, which can be very distracting.
On top of this, a misclick summons the Angels, who police the levels looking for shenanigans from the great beyond. If you activate something in their sightline, you’re “arrested,” and lose a heart. After three, you’re forced to start the level over, even if you’ve hit the requisite amount of targets and deaths.
“Death Coming” is also available on Steam, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Android.
I really enjoyed this game not only for its premise, but its delivery. It’s jam-packed with nerdy references, funny sequences and challenging puzzles. It’s witty, entertaining and best of all, only $7.