Devil Daggers thrives on being a mystery. What exactly does the name mean, anyway? Why are you shooting red daggers from your fingertips at legions of skulls? Where exactly does the game take place?
Ultimately, none of that information is crucial to understanding Devil Daggers. It’s best experienced in quick bursts when you have a few minutes to kill, or when you just feel like enjoying a satisfying surge of action that doesn’t require much thinking or overt commitment. In essence, it’s just shooting. Lots and lots of shooting.
Many people are drawing parallels to classic Doom and Quake, but I find this comparison flawed. Sure, the game is dark and gothic and takes sombre pride in its lo-fi aesthetic, but Devil Daggers is far more arcade-y and simplistic. There are no mazes or corridors, there’s no key-hunting and there certainly isn’t as diverse of an arsenal on display. Devil Daggers places you within a small, flat arena surrounded by bottomless pits and expects you to mow down wave after wave of skeletal creatures and other monstrosities while trying to survive as long as possible. Oh, and there’s no health: this is strictly one-hit-death territory. In this sense, it’s very similar to 2D shoot-’em-ups such as Geometry Wars, but switched to a first-person perspective and given a delightfully dark coat of paint.
It is, simply put, terribly addictive. Each round could end in no more than a few seconds, yet you’ll find yourself entering the fray again and again in order to best your previous score and earn your spot on the game’s leaderboards. This game demands considerable skill from those who dare to indulge it; you’ll have to deal with impossibly large swarms, master the art of strafing and bunny-hopping and be quick enough to grab the red gems that provide points and upgrades. It often borders on being frustrating, but never enough to deter you from future attempts. In fact, you’re more likely to quit from aching wrists and fingers than because of the difficulty.
Devil Daggers is a seminal example of minimalism and restraint in game design. Easy to pick up, tough to master, great for scratching a quick gaming itch and immensely rewarding for those who stick with it. Most importantly, it totally nails that “just one more try” charm that the best games have mastered. I can only give it two thumbs up, but if I had more thumbs, it’d definitely get them all. It sells for R55 on Steam, so there’s no reason not to get it.
92One of the most excellent little nuggets of gaming I’ve encountered in ages. Short, sweet and stylish, it’s all about skill and the leaderboards mean it’ll probably be used to compare self-worth among friends.