Dark Devotion E3 Impression
I accidentally stumbled upon this game at the Facebook Games booth. Now before you balk at it, Facebook was in no way involved with it, and was simply giving a platform for indie PC games to shine on the E3 floor. How nice of them. Anyways, Dark Devotion is a Souls-like 2D platformer. This concept has been done and is being done by many games already, but there were a number of things that made Dark Devotion stand out above the pack in my eyes.
First and foremost was the combat. Compared to other 2D platformer Souls-Like games I’ve tried, Dark Devotion‘s combat felt pleasantly heavy. Attack animations have a short cue-up time and can leave you briefly open at the end as well. They also take up significant stamina. Because of this, when fighting the demo’s boss, I found myself in the same mindset as when I play Dark Souls games, in that I have to battle against my desire to get in extra hits. In this game, you can hit a tough enemy once, maybe twice, and you should be happy with it. Getting greedy and going for more hits than that will often be brutally punished. And yet, the boss’s irregular, but well-telegraphed attack patterns taunted me time and again to fall into the greed trap, especially as I got close to defeating it. Each and every time, this lead to my death, and I only had myself to blame for leaving the demo defeated. I’ll get him next time!
Dark Devotion also features ten different weapons. I tried four of those in the demo and each played very different. There’s the standard sword and shield, with average range, speed, and attack. There was a faster, but shorter ranged axe, a very long range, but also very slow spear, and a bow. Weapons also have secondary abilities that compliment them. With the sword and shield, the secondary ability is to block. But with the spear and bow, the secondary ability is a very quick backward roll, allowing players to get the needed range to use the weapons effectively. Players can only hold two weapons, so they must choose which weapons to take with them as they explore dungeons and face bosses, but they can at least swap between the two weapons instantly during combat. There are also a variety of healing items, as well as accessories that have passive effects like slowing enemy attacks or adding curse resistance. The game also features a faith mechanic, a resource that can be accumulated by defeating enemies and is spent to open paths and treasures, among other things that I didn’t get to see in the demo.
In typical Souls fashion, players can of course roll, but rolling is done with the left and right shoulder buttons rather than by pressing a face button and a direction. The rolling mechanic also felt more authentic to Souls in that it felt heavier than other Souls-like platformers I tried, and with just enough of a delay to prevent spamming. Even though the game is a platformer, it stays true to its Souls roots and does not include the ability to jump, though you can enter doors and climb ladders to move vertically through the levels. Overall, the controls felt very right to me, and a great adaptation of the feel of the Dark Souls to the game’s 2D world. Dark Devotion will be about twenty to thirty hours long, with plenty of gameplay to satisfy players. It’s focused around religious themes and offers an oppressive, foggy atmosphere, and some great looking pixel art. I’m really looking forward to this one.