Death or Treat

Posted:  May 12, 2023
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Death or Trash was provided by Hawthorne Games and Saona Studios for review. Thank you!

The Halloween spirit is missing and it is up to you to bring it back and save HalloTown. Death or Treat is a 2D action-roguelite with a unique aesthetic with handpainted visuals and classic animation. As Scary, you will choose your weapon and skill before you head out to beat hordes of enemies. Get as far as you can defeating foes and collecting resources to rebuild your town with new shops and ways to upgrade your abilities and equipment. Get ready, it's time to save Halloween!

Death or Treat is a great looking game with some solid gameplay, but feels a bit held back by some odd design choices and a few weird control issues. I enjoy the core mechanics here, the combat does feel fluid most of the time and I like the rogue-lite elements of finding materials, rebuilding, and going back stronger than before. The game does this well, but the grinding can be very tedious as everything, including upgrades, needs the currency and materials that are uncommon drops from enemies.

There are also some weird control issues I ran into. The most prominent one was the lack of ability to cancel dashes and attacks into each other. I feel adding this in would have definitely helped the flow of the game and fluidity of the combat. In the end, the gorgeous visuals and great concept couldn't outpace some of its glaring QoL and design faults. On top of that, the game performs weirdly on the Steam Deck.

Death or Treat - Steam Deck Performance

Similar games to Death or Treat, like Celeste or Hollow Knight, get sub 9W battery drain and a stable framerate of 60, but Death or Treat has some issues. First, the battery drain for 60 FPS is around 14W - 15W on average, which is way more than there should be. When I took a look at the settings to see if I could turn it down, the graphical quality was already on very low! The weirder part is I didn't see any changes from the "Ultra" settings to the "Very Low" one, but the drain with Ultra was significantly higher!

Ultra Quality
Very Low Quality
Very Low Quality
Ultra Quality

I also saw that the resolution was at 1920x1080 instead of 720p, but the weird thing is the 1080p resolution filled the entire Deck screen, which it shouldn't, and swapping to 720p brought in the black bars. 1920x1080 didn't seem to actually be 1080p, but it does drain the battery slightly more. Personally, I preferred it so I could fill the full screen of the Steam Deck.

After all of this, Death or Treat averaged around 12W - 16W battery drain and had some slight stuttering, but can hold 60 FPS for the most part. I did try lowering framerate, but I noticed the stuttering way more and it heavily affected my experience, so dealing with 60 was non-negotiable. There are some spots that do dip a bit more than they should, but it is still overall playable.

While there is controller support, there are no cloud saves so going from different devices will not keep your progress. On top of that, there are two other issues I want to bring up.

Text Readability and Video Playback

The first thing I noticed when playing without forcing any compatibility is some videos don't play correctly, opting instead to show the rainbow bars. To fix this, you can use Proton GE 8-3, which you can get using our guide. I tried 8-2 originally, but 8-3 fixes the video playback fully as the previous version had some issues.

The other thing I noticed was readability of some of the in-game text, primarily in conversations. The text is readable, but it seems to be pixelated and definitely was a bit of strain on my end. Changing resolution didn't help, so unfortunately, this was just something I had to deal with.



Death or Treat is a visually appealing game with fantastic artwork and animation. The core concept is great and combat can feel quite fluid at times, but with some lacking QoL features and some not-so-wonderful grinding, Death or Treat feels a bit lacking and pales a bit in comparison to similar games like it. And with some issues playing on the Steam Deck, it is hard to fully enjoy, but it is playable.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Death or Treat is a gorgeous game that has some great ideas, but has some trouble with execution both in-game and on the Steam Deck.

Build Score

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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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