Death of a Wish Review – The Father, The Son and The Catholic Guilt

Reviewed March 10, 2024 on PC


PC, Nintendo Switch


March 11, 2024


Syndicate Atomic LLC



Immediately upon the start up of Death of a Wish, I’m asked to name someone important to me: someone I would die for. This is a bold question to ask the player out of the gate. However, I should’ve seen it coming. Death of a Wish is a game all about found family, love, grief, and sticking it to those who have done you wrong. Topping it all off is plenty of edge and some good old-fashioned themes of Catholic guilt. It is a cool as-hell video game—one that more than earned asking a player to think of the mortality of someone close to them. I just wish it were also one that would every now and then play it a little straight and be just that little bit more parsable.

Death of a Wish is a sequel to the 2018 video game Lucah: Born of a DreamThis did not occur to me until about three-quarters through Wish’s runtime. This doesn’t matter too much, as the premise is very simple and standalone. Your name is Christian (Chris for short), tasked with uniting amongst a new group of friends, you are to challenge and end the cult that cruelly raised you. Spearheading this cult is the figureheads in the Father, the Son, the Cardinal and the Priest. Take them out and order will be restored.

This simple premise is enough to withstand the fifteen or so hours I took tackling the game, but it’s the mood, heart, and worldbuilding that drives the game forward. Flashes of Chris’ past come back to him throughout the game. Often, these are accompanied by figures that he is attempting to make sense of. These include lost souls like himself, but also a forbidden love. One who wasn’t able to see the light of the public due to his cult upbringing. The impact that the cult has had on Chris runs deep, and it doesn’t take long at all for you to be right there with him, feeling that impact and wanting to tear it all down.

Death of a Wish’s narrative contains some of the most cryptic but flowery writing I’ve ever seen in games. Each line of dialogue, the timing of a narrative beat, how characters interrupt or bounce off each other… it all feels deliberate and concise. When these moments and gut-wrenching lines, anecdotes or thoughts hit, they really hit. It’s the kind of clever writing and storytelling that reminds me of games such as BOSSGAMEa title that deals with similar themes. However here it’s that little bit too clever for its own good. I’m all about leaving narratives open for interpretation, but when this vagueness makes the game feel like it’s pulling punches, it doesn’t always work. This is the case here, and I wish I didn’t have to digest two, three, maybe four playthroughs to fully wrap my head around the game’s world. It’s keeping me from fully loving it right here and now in this moment.

Death of a Wish always remains a joy to play. Its cast is well-developed, and Chris is a strong protagonist. Synth, drum, and bass music back your exploration and punctuates the edgy prose. The entire moody atmosphere of the city, sewer system and all, is captured with a hand-drawn aesthetic that most closely resembles scrawls of chalk on a blackboard. The 2D action title has frantic scribbles and rough lines to paint the environment. This is an incredibly striking choice, helping to mystify the form of some of the inconceivable monsters (known as Nightmares) you’ll be battling.

Colours distinguish the cast, with Chris illuminated in a soft yellow that helps them stand out in the environment. The otherwise black backdrop suddenly is brought with striking neon chalk lines and the like. That doesn’t even begin to explain the visual feast that you’ll experience mid-combat when slashes, projectiles and so forth erupt across the screen all in their own colours.

This only lets up slightly when certain moments of the plot task you with going to an exact location, something that isn’t always easy to work out in an environment. Is the way that environment detailing tapers off over there a stylistic choice or does it indicate a path you can take? Who’s to say? Not even the map that you can pull up in your menus, also made of scribbles, helps with this all the time. Getting lost for a little bit is very easy.

You could never accuse Death of a Wish of lacking in style. Death of a Wish is an incredibly cool video game. That translates to its combat, a hack-and-slash affair that feels akin to the famous and Catholic-themed action game Devil May Cry. It feels like the brother of that very beloved title. Despite being a 2024 video game, it feels very reminiscent of that period of 2000’s edge. Chris feels like a moody protagonist who would hang out with and be buds with Devil May Cry’s Dante.

Christian comes equipped with a sword used for hacking and slashing glory. Though combos aren’t always the most outlined and taught to you in the way other titles in the action genre would, there’s good encouragement in becoming familiar with Christian’s attack animations. You begin to note how one of the latter moves in the chain of standard attacks is more sweeping than the one prior, allowing you to manipulate it so the sequence in a combo is used when enemies are the most grouped, dealing maximum damage. On top of this, you have a little sprightly summon known as a Familiar that can send out projectiles, charged shots, and the like to help mix up your combos.

Specialisation comes in the Labyrinthian upgrade tree that’s found in-game. This can be hard to comprehend at first, as it (like all menus and HUD) is depicted in scrawlings and hand drawings. Eventually, it all flows together nicely; you can determine the attack type of your Familiar, and you can imbue your own attacks with different elements (known as aria) to apply freeze and other statuses. You can even add passive buffs via prayer cards or change up your aura, the third means of a charged attack where you can do area-of-effect feats such as a cyclone that centres around Chris, blowing away foes and reflecting projectiles.

Death of a Wish can be a tough combat game, often having players have to think smart and on the fly to get through a given encounter. My saving grace as someone who is admittedly not the best at nailing down combos is the parry. Parrys are normally hard for me to pull off in video games (I’m more of a dodger), but Chris’ parry is all about dashing into an enemy as they attack. Perfect. Do so enough times with a healthy dose of attacks in between and you’ll break the opponent’s guard, leaving them staggered and stunned, vulnerable to a barrage of attacks. My recommendation is to utilise your taunt when the enemy is in this state, allowing for extra damage to be dolled out.

Combat encounters are often cordoned off, requiring the player to work in a timely and stylistic combo-focused fashion to clear the room before they can leave again. Depending on how well you rank, a percentage of your Corruption (a little meter in the top right corner of your screen, filling you with dread as it nears 100%) gets reduced. Not only does this add more mystique to the strange world of Death of a Wish, having you wondering what this corruption does (is it a simple game over state? Is it something more?), but it also teaches players to learn the combat mechanics and play better and smarter.




  • Unbelievably unique and striking visual design
  • Excellent themes of Catholic guilt, queer identify, and finding one's self
  • Diverse combat system with plenty of specialisation options
  • A damn good parry


  • Easy to get lost in the world
  • Some of the flowery language, though beautiful, will be lost on the player

Death of a Wish is a great moody action game that’s worth adding to your list of must-play 2024 indies. It’s a narrative with textbook Catholic guilt, a heartfelt journey of self-discovery, and the exploration of queer acceptance. With its pulsating chalk-like line work that makes the images and action leap off the page, a diverse combat system, and an oh-so-satisfying parry to boot—style and substance are at the forefront of the game at all times. Though you can occasionally get lost in the weeds of the prose-like writing and confusing map design, it’s hard to stay mad long at Death of a Wish. It’s a damn cool video game.