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Devil Daggers (PC) artwork

Devil Daggers (PC) review

"A surprising amount of nuance to be found"

In the simplest terms, Devil Daggers is a single-player, first-person shooter that wears its old-school love and inspiration proudly on its sleeve; with its visuals borrowing very heavily from the '90s classic, Quake, and its gameplay taking notes from a litany of any number of similar titles from the era. But as simple and disarmingly minimalist as the game can seem, there is a surprising amount of nuance to be found.

You start off in an arena of grey slabs surrounded by a void of darkness and with a red right hand in the bottom centre of the screen pointing two fingers outwards as your weapon. A strange sound chirps in the darkness and a tiny red dot appears in the distance. You move towards it to find what can only be described as an inverted, v*ginal spire with tentacles writhing from the top of it as it rotates slowly. Before you even have time to admire/despise it, skulls spew forth and descend upon you. Either holding or tapping the left mouse button, you will launch a barrage of red globules in an assault rifle-like spray, or blast them out like a burst from a shotgun. Do this to dispatch endless waves of twisted, demonic enemies until you take a single hit and die. Sounds simple, right?... WRONG! Chances are you'll probably die within seconds on your first attempt. But you'll still keep coming back for more.

Devil Daggers (PC) image

As I said, there is nuance, like strange bunny hop techniques that can be applied or shooting at the ground for a small rocket jump, and probably all sorts of other things that I just can't wrap my head around that divide the greats from the goods. Certain downed enemies will also drop red gems which are used to upgrade the power of your shots. You can collect these manually, but if you hold your fire they'll be attracted to you, while your "shotgun" blasts will knock them away from you, opening up some risk-reward style management. Or, alternatively, abandon all sense of strategy and considered methodology and just fire everywhere in a blind panic for as long as you can and hope for the best. Both are fine options.

It is a single-player experience, but online leaderboards add some spice to proceedings. Every single run is recorded, and the best times are saved to allow other players to see exactly how that particular attempt played out and maybe even pick up some tips along the way. Though, that said, having watched the masters and seen how they survived far, far, FAR in excess of my own times, I have to say I've learned absolutely nothing other than the fact some people just operate on a whole other plain than me that I'll never be able to achieve or even understand. So that's nice. But the friend leaderboards can be a real hoot as you try to outdo one another and could add a lot of longevity if lots of people you know are playing it as well.

Devil Daggers (PC) image

It's a weird game in that I don't think I can honestly say I ever actually had fun with it at any point, but it is most definitely compelling and has that "one more go" factor perfectly baked into it. As overwhelming as it can sometimes be when you inevitably fail to properly manage the onslaught and eventually die, at no point did I ever feel as though what I was up against was impossible, or even beyond my skill level, was more the case that I was making poor decisions or panicking or failing to take proper notice of my surroundings and was dying a stupid death. And that's what it is that makes it work so well, the feeling that you could always do better and like that next milestone is just another few attempts away, always only just outside of your grasp, but still close enough to touch.

While there may be some things I'd like to be different in the game (like certain movement patterns of enemies being more consistent or predictable, or having actual isolated waves rather than the continued pile-on being throw at you whether you're ready or not), I can't shake the feeling that almost everything about the game is pretty much exactly as it's intended to be and you just have to deal with it and figure it out yourself. And if that's the vision they have for the game, then you can't really argue much with that.

Devil Daggers (PC) image

Special mention also has to go to the sound design that's an amazing example of incorporating audio into gameplay in a meaningful way beyond simply setting a tone. Every enemy is signposted by an audio cue whenever they spawn, and the distinct sounds they make as they hover around and chase you is key to your survival. Although, the game is an increasing assault on the senses the further into the ranks of demons you drill through until everything is just visual and aural noise that will likely overwhelm all but the most expert of players.

As limited and one-note as it might potentially be for some, for shooter fans, score addicts and masochists alike, this is definitely worth a recommendation, or at the very least, worth some investigation. And if a bunch of people can get this together, then all the better.


JacquesLeSauve's avatar
Community review by JacquesLeSauve (April 28, 2017)

I eat achievements for breakfast, write reviews for lunch and poop bios before bedtime.


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Zydrate posted April 28, 2017:

This is a very strange game, not really anything like it. It gives me a Quake vibe but it's mostly built around "How far can you go?"
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bwv_639 posted May 10, 2017:

I can't help but see enemy patterns being unpredictable as a plus, though. Specially in light of the fact that, I gather from the review, this game purposes to keep the player in constant awe.

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