There are so many roguelikes and roguelites now that it's getting harder and harder to stand out, and that's something Have a Nice Death doesn't quite overcome. By and large, this is a perfectly decent side-scrolling action game, but it doesn't reach the upper echelons of this competitive niche.
You play as Death, fatigued by his paperwork-heavy job and frustrated by his subordinates, who've been doing too good a job of bringing souls to the afterlife. You set out into the sprawling, randomly generated departments of Death Inc., defeating those bosses and getting things back in order.
One of the game's biggest strengths is how it looks — like a Saturday morning cartoon, it's crisply animated and full of personality. Equally, attacking enemies feels great, with fast-paced combos and options to attack above or below making for kinetic bouts. There are various iterations on your main weapon, and lots of secondary offensive options to discover that expand your attack pool; ranged fireballs or heavy sword swings, for instance.
Each run has you exploring various floors before fighting a boss, then moving onto the next department. It's your standard roguelike structure, and the bosses are more often than not the best parts of each attempt at making it through. There're some really imaginative designs and attack patterns in these encounters, but sadly the same can't be said for most of the other enemies. Level design and basic enemies are lacking, and a lot of the game quickly becomes very repetitive as a result. Add on top some very hard-to-read attacks, especially when a lot of baddies are on-screen, and it can be a little discouraging to keep going.
However, there's a good, steady sense of progression, and elevators that take you to the end of each department alleviate some of the repetition. When you get on a good run and build yourself up with beneficial buffs and powerful attacks, the game starts to sing. There's definitely plenty to like about Have a Nice Death, but its flaws prevent it from reaching the heights of its contemporaries.