Nothing in this life is certain.
Well, except for Death and Taxes. With that being the title of the latest Pineappleworks published title what in fact would we be getting: a tax simulator, a mortician RPG? Let’s take a closer look and see what this one has buried in its core.
Fans of the modern classic Papers Please or the less talked about Not Tonight will be happy to hear that Death and Taxes is a return to the world of bureaucratic paper-pushing. Those unaware of this genre we can sum it while breaking down the gameplay. You are the latest Grim Reaper. After a quick meeting with your new boss Fate, you are quickly whisked away to your office. Once you settle in the faxes of potential victims begin to come in. Each day you receive a memo that more or less guides you into your decision making. Some days you may be instructed to go with the flow while on others you will be given a specific number of deaths to render or better yet told only people with a specific background are to die or be spared.
The true depth of the game is hidden within.
The simple and repetitive gameplay is broken up by interacting with your trusty cellphone which is buzzing with news about your previous day’s choices. The true depth of the game is hidden here. Yes, you simple choose live or die but these choices play out differently in the world. Purposely, we are keeping mum on the story as to not spoil the excellent writing, but you should know that there is more at play in this devious little game. Over the course of 28 days, you will see just what becomes of mankind. Balancing your guidelines set forth by your boss may or may not be the best call and only you can weave this tale of Grimm consequences. The end of each day has you taking the elevator to Fate’s office where your day’s work is evaluated. Follow your instructions and you will quickly rise the ranks and even receive a raise. However, go against your boss and see your pay docked. Push the envelope too much and you will lose your job and the game. Finding the right balance to achieve the ending you “want” will see you going through the same daily grind as you reset the world in an alternate timeline or start fresh in a new game plus. The only difference being that any trinkets you buy during your play do not join you in new game plus. So if you spent all your hard-earned coin on some fancy clothes (why would you) you’ll end up just a naked skull all over again.
Being dead doesn’t mean you cannot hear and thankfully the developer thought of this too. Fate is excellently voice acted throughout the campaign as opposed to the text you spout off. He delivers the previously mentioned clever writing in such a convincing fashion. Equal parts ominous and authoritative he could be argued is the true star of the game. Down in the basement, you will meet our personal favourite Mortimer the pirate. While he does outstay his welcome, he too is excellently brought to life (or death) as he regales you with tales of his journeys when you purchase trinkets and outfits from him. The music is more than appropriate and keeps everything light-hearted. You have the ability to buy a desk radio which gives you an extra layer of control over how things sound.
Visually, Death and Taxes is fine.
While not a standout in any way worth mentioning, it’s also not offputting either. Everything has a hand-sketched look but avoids the overabundance of sketching lines. Your desk, where you will spend the majority of the time, is simply illustrated and cluttered as you accrue trinkets and items which while annoying is a realistic depiction of just how overwhelming your desk can get over time. The ability to alter your look is fun but fruitless. Everything from a sugar skull to Cthulu is at your disposal but considering you only see a slight shadowed outline while in the elevator it’s a waste of money and time.
On the whole Death and Taxes succeeds in crafting a tale filled with dark humour and thought-provoking questions. However, the tedium of the daily mundane tasks eventually become boring. There is a mystery in here that will take you multiple playthroughs to solve and you are littered with false endings that are the result of your daily choices. However, nothing here will appeal to the casual gamer that has no interest in the genre. That said, it is worth your time if you understand what is in store and patience is a trait you have.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Nintendo
Release Date: 10/09/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: RPG, Simulation,
Developer: Pineapple Works
Publisher: Pineapple Works
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop