After partying too hard on Hallowe’en, Death awakens on November the 1st to find his keys have been stolen and used to unlock the dead, now wondering the Earth as zombies and ghosts. Too hungover to retrieve them himself, the reaper enlists a humble cemetery groundskeeper. This sounds like the beginning of a delightfully twisted black comedy but is unfortunately the beginning and end of Grumpy Reaper’s good ideas.
This is, in short, a bad, tedious game. Finding the all-important keys inexplicably involves cutting all the grass in each level, while avoiding the undead and battling with unpleasant controls. Like the worst kind of outdated Atari throwback, the game is viewed from an awkward isometric angle where one can never be sure of pressing the right direction on the d-pad.
Once the awkward controls are mastered, the game doesn’t offer a lot of fun, variety or excitement. Clearing grids of grass isn’t made a lot less tedious by avoiding ghouls, or even by collecting powerups and lawnmower fuel to kill or escape them. Fuel cannisters turn the lawnmower first into a motorised version, that kills enemies, then subsequently into a ridable variation that can destroy some impediments. The change to control, and what you're actually doing, is negligible. Killing zombies doesn't have enough impact to feel satisfying; you slide over them and they quietly transform into coins with a flash, not even impeding your movement.
The game is split into ten-level worlds, navigated with the same exact menu icons familiar to anyone who has played a post-Angry Birds game; the looping arrow to restart a level, the play icon to go on and the menu button that doesn’t even resemble this game’s menus.
Graphically, Grumpy Reaper is an abysmal mixture of low-poly models and horrific textures that lacks any kind of charm and would have been derided on the Nintendo 64. This is especially unfortunate as levels are punctuated by some quite nice hand-drawn images. Each successful completion unlocks a new enemy type, ranging from generic sports outfits and horror movie clichés to racist caricatures. The enemies encountered ingame can be customised, but the crap models and high camera angle mean they’re pretty indistinguishable in gameplay.
Appropriately for a game about death, the English language has been butchered. Grumpy Reaper is littered with typos, nonsensical syntax and poor grammar, with lines like “get’s away from the monsters.”
The game regularly hassles you to buy more health or fuel with in-game currency, like the very worst microtranscation-filled mobile game, but luckily no such money need be spent. I can’t imagine anyone who would want to spend the small cost of purchasing this game, let alone any more to keep playing it. It at least does a good job of making you route for the protagonist; playing Grumpy Reaper will make you long for death.