When Lemons Give You Life, You… Get To Work?
Death and Taxes, the debut game from Placeholder Gameworks – a small indie studio based out of Tartu, Estonia – and is a lovely little simulation of the bureaucracy behind life and death.
If the thought of paperwork and stamping forms gets your heart racing and blood pumping – then hoo-boy is this the game you’ve been waiting for. After being brought to life by ‘Fate’ (with the help of some zesty lemons), and a quick customisation, you are immediately put to work as a Grim Reaper and are tasked with deciding the fate of a selection of mortals. You get your own office, a work phone and a big ‘ol pen with which to make your judgements.
The main gameplay of Death & Taxes is simple
You sit at your desk and decide from the files given to you, which ones to let live, and which to condemn. The caveat in all this, however, is Fate gives you certain tasks each day, and you have a choice of either following them to the letter or disregarding them completely. At the end of each day you are given an evaluation, and depending on how well you followed orders, a bonus.
The bonuses are basically money that can be used to buy either customisation options for your Reaper, handy items like an eraser in case you make a mistake, and general gizmos and clickers to sit on your desk. There is also the option to purchase a mirror, that not only allows customisation but takes the story in an interesting direction, delving into topics like free-choice and thinking about the consequences of your actions.
The artwork is great, some of the answers you can give Fate are genuinely chuckle-worthy, and while the story does start to get intriguing, the simple yet repetitive gameplay can get a wee bit tedious after a while and you can find yourself just going through the motions to get to the next day. The customisation options are a nice addition, making you want to follow orders in order to get the money to buy them… but if you have no interest in cosmetic changes like this then you won’t care if you’re following Fates rules or not.
Just like how the real world’s Death and Taxes are unavoidable, you should definitely not avoid this game. It’s is a relatively cheap, fun little distraction, with a great artistic style – and while some may find the gameplay a little bit repetitive after a while, the story makes up for it once it gets going.
Review code provided
Platform: Steam, Windows, Mac
Release Date: 20/02/2020
No. of Players: 1
Publisher: Placeholder Gameworks
Download link: Steam