Death comes to us all, but in most cases, it’s to reap our immortal souls or take up to the land of the dead. However, in video games, you are no stranger to death, as regular respawning and additional lives mean you pop back into digital existence ready for another go.
Video games also enjoy the benefit of giving players a chance at meeting death, fighting death, or even taking up the mantle of death itself.
To celebrate the unusual relationship that gamers have with the grim reaper (in all his forms), we run down 13 games with Death as a key character.
Manual Samuel – The Kickflipping Death
This amusing indie game sees selfish Sam die and get sent to hell. Sam then makes a deal with the skateboarding obsessed Death to come back to life if he can survive 24 hours controlling all his bodily functions manually. This hilarious mechanic and the completely oddball story makes for a fun game in which you start by learning to breathe manually and eventually end up thrown in jail with Death, accidentally killing 300 orphans, possess a demon, and take on Satan himself. When Death finally lands his first Kick Flip, Satan is super jealous.
Flipping Death – The Replacement Death
In Flipping Death, you play Penny, a recently deceased woman who meets Death, only to be given his job whilst Death goes on Holiday. Penny soon learns she can help the variety of restless spirits with their unfinished business by jumping between the land of the dead and the land of the living. By possessing the colourful characters you can help them but also uncover why you died in the first place.
Grim Fandango – The Travel Agent
Grim Fandango takes place in the Land of the Dead (the Eighth Underworld), where recently departed souls aim to make their way to the Land of Eternal Rest (the Ninth Underworld). However, the more good deeds you do when alive give you currency in the afterlife for travel arrangements. Good people can take the fast train, whilst the bad must walk the four-year trip. In this game, you meet one Death at the department of Death, who acts as a travel agent whose job is to escort your soul to the next life.
Death & Taxes – The Office Death
In Death & Taxes, you play Death stuck doing the worst job in the world. You are stuck behind a desk and you must choose the fate of the various people/files that pass through your department. You are given a short description of each and you choose whether they live or die. With each choice, you find out how they impacted the future and link to the outcome in the end. This might be the proverbial graveyard shift, but the story is both funny and engaging and make all the paperwork worthwhile.
Darksiders 2 – The Warrior Death
Death is the eldest and most powerful of the four horsemen. Having fought alongside the Angels to kill all but four of his own kind, Death is cold, determined, and intense. However, he is deeply loyal and cares greatly for his remaining family as shown when he gives up his life for his brother war.
Coffin Dodgers – The Speedy Death
When the residents of Sunny Pines settled down for their retirement, they didn’t realise that they would need to challenge the Grim Reaper to a mobility scooter racing championship for their very souls. If they can prove themselves to be fast and full of life, surviving and ultimately winning the championship, then he will allow them to live. However, too slow and they will be condemned to the retirement village in the sky.
Kingdom Hearts 2 – The Cursed Death
The Grim Reaper in Kingdom Hearts II is one of the bosses at Port Royal. When the player meets Jack Sparrow they learn that the Aztec Gold had been disturbed again and the curse has returned. By exploiting the curse, the Grim Reaper can become undead and invulnerable to attack making him a tricky boss to beat. This more colourful version of Death replaces his long black cloak for a more Aztec-inspired suit of armour.
Scribblenauts – The Deity Death
Death is the most dangerous NPC in Scribblenauts, capable of killing any living creature with a single touch. With 250 health points, he is too tricky to kill (even with a bazooka) and is best off avoided. If you can’t avoid him, try to blind him to avoid his deathly touch.
Death Jr – The Teenage Death
In Death Jr, you play Death’s teenage son Death Jr or DJ for short. On a school trip to a museum, DJ opens a magical box to impress his friend Pandora only for all hell to break loose (literally). DJ and his crazy bunch of Tim Burton-esqe friends must save the day whilst keeping the truth from Death himself.
Dante’s inferno – The Robbed Death
Death is the first boss fight in Dante’s Inferno after Dante is pulled from the land of the living after being killed by an assassin in the land of the living. Dante refuses to go to Hell and battles the Grim Reaper, before finally taking his scythe, the weapon he will wield for his journey through Hell.
The Sims – The Working Death
Just before your Sim dies, The Grim Reaper appears to take them to the netherworld. However, Death can be an interactive experience in the Sims as you can use this time to chat to him about poetry and politics, scream and shout at him and even flirt and marry him but he doesn’t stick around long and disappears in a poof of smoke.
Deaths Door – The Sub-Contracted Death
In Deaths Door you play a crow who works for the Reaping Commission. An agency that now collects the souls of the living. The Agency is run by the Lord of Doors who made an arrangement with Death to collect souls on his behalf. Once the arrangement was in place, the now immortal Lord of Doors imprisoned Death and it’s up to you to tear down the new bureaucracy.
Conkers Bad Fur Day – The Short Death
Gregg the Grim Reaper is a particularly short reaper who begrudgingly assists Conker in Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Conker: Live and Reloaded. He is mostly known for his humorous hatred of cats and the undead and tries to use a megaphone to sound scarier.
Five honorable mentions:
- Ghouls & Ghosts
- Twisted Metal