Yeah, depending on the setting he wanted, I think it may be a way to go. It's all on the 5E chassis, with some tweaks and a little shift in focus. But the characters are definitely more at risk, and they have fewer super powers at their disposal.yeah I just grabbed the 5 torches, it sounds intriguing. That might be something the OP would like, as it is more dangerous than 5e. Frankly, the superhero curve of D&D is a turn off for me as well, I just as soon end any game by 9th.
Combat's meant to be a last resort in that game, it seems. But it does still invovle combat, so I don't know how suitable it would be for the OP, specifically. But for anyone else who wants toned down PCs and a grittier feel to their D&D, this game should do that well.