Review: Devil Daggers (PC)
‘You mean there’s more of these f***ing things?’
The first time I booted Devil Daggers up, I couldn’t help but feel reminiscent of those glorious first person shooters of the 90’s. I was taken back to a time I thought had been forgotten. It was in the late hours of the evening, I was tired, but I just kept telling myself ‘one more go, I can beat my high score’. With a distinctly ominous presentation, the atmosphere alone will burn into your retinas and invade your dreams. This, combined with a sprinkle of Geometry Wars, a drop of Super Hexagon and a lick of Doom is a concoction enough to make anyone find religion. All it took was one shot at this impressively authentic callback to 1993 and I knew it would become something of an obsession, which it has been for the last week.
Gameplay could not be more pure. As Devil Daggers reels you in, precision cursor movements are essential as you frantically strafe in circles avoiding enemies and trying your best to clear wave after wave of continuous assault, with your ‘magic daggers’. You’d be wise to take care of the spawners first, which give birth to a host of monstrosities, each with a surprising amount of tactility, as they all react in differen’t ways. Skulls for example follow you relentlessly, horned skulls follow you only when your not watching them and what can only be described as ‘hell crabs’ spew out fluorescent green bugs of some kind. You’ll have to hone your reactions and learn these patterns if you want to progress. I’ve also become accustomed to viewing other player runs, via the useful inclusion of a high score play-through library. This has proved valuable for me to strategise, as I observe the insane prowess of other users in the global leaderboard. The steam user DraQu currently holds the world record at a whopping 8 minutes 59 seconds!
With the stripped down graphics, the visuals may appear less than desirable at first glance. However, they are what provide an alluring appeal that harkens back to an aesthetic charm, that once dominated the gaming industry two decades ago. It’s this art design that adds to its garish and hellish appeal, a perfect marriage to the ceaseless tension that permeates at its core. Each enemy presents a wholly differen’t appearance, instantaneously recognisable in order for you to adapt and alter your tactics.
The audio really is quite disturbing to say the least, but essential should you want to master the game. Each monstrosity can be identified by horrifying sounds that would be best left in the darkest corner of any mind. Thus, this proves to be vital in determining what kind of enemies are present within the arena without having to waste time looking. I’ve now become accustomed to playing with my headset left on, in a last ditch attempt at competing with myself for a high score worthy of gloating about. I average at about 60 seconds currently (my highest being 78), but each of those seconds felt eternal, requiring full attention and resulting with palms rinsed in sweat. You can see my high score below.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Devil Daggers. It does what it does extremely well, both encapsulating and re-imagining a genre long and forgotten, whilst adding its own fresh twists at the same time. Combined with the ultimately short lived sessions this serves to facilitate anyone with a mild to moderate addictive personality. Basically, if you have any desire to re-live your time with games like Doom or Quake so synonymous with the 90’s, enjoy the addictive and compulsive nature born out of games like Space Invaders, and love the thrill of slowly besting your own personal score, this will really ‘rock you socks’ so to speak.