Death of a Wish is a gloomy combat masterclass

In Eurogamer’s Star Wars Jedi: Survivor review, Chris Tapsell had a lot of fun picking apart the ways various action games present genre-standard mechanics, such as parrying. “In God of War the entire game around you slows, warps, and your shield returns the blow with some almighty elastic snap,” he wrote. “In Sekiro a parry is a small chip on the enemy’s stance gauge – the real health bar of Sekiro – one of a dozen rapid, immaculately-timed strikes you might have to land just right.”

I like videogame criticism that lingers on vicious little details like these. The most popular games rely heavily on quite a small collection of commercially proven concepts and themes, which makes it easy to skim the delicate touches that set individual works apart. Sometimes, those smaller tweaks and flourishes are more functional and contained – a touch of slow mo for your parry, to make the combat system slightly easier to master than its nearest competitors. But in careful hands, they can give you the soul of the game.

Death of a Wish from Colin Horgan, aka Melessthanthree, feels like one such game, a hack and slash that retunes the staple mechanics of combos, dodges and parries to further a story about overthrowing a torrid metaphysical world. It’s a follow-up to Horgan’s LUCAH: Born of a Dream, which I got embarrassingly overwrought about way back in 2019.

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