By Michael Fontanini / July 10th, 2019
|Publisher||The Arcade Crew and Maple Whispering Limited|
|Release Date||April 25th, 2019|
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Indie, souls-like, Rogue-like, Difficult|
Dark Devotion is a difficult, unforgiving 2D Souls-like with rogue-like elements as well. You are a female Templar who must explore the fallen temple, testing your faith along the way. Do you have what it takes to survive the trials ahead, and can you handle the secrets you will uncover in the process?
As your journey begins, you will quickly find your way into the Filthblood Shelter. This will be the hub area for your excursions into the depths of the fallen temple. It contains some useful facilities like the forge, where you can choose your equipment before you head out again. You can even go out with no weapons if you prefer punching, but that will of course make the game harder due to your limited range. Having to stop at the forge every time you die can be annoying at times, though. There is also an NPC in the shelter who will give you quests.
Equipment in the forge is divided into three categories: weapons, armor, and consumables. The fallen temple is divided into three main areas. Each is a labyrinthian maze like a Metroidvania game. When you die, you lose all your equipment, but there are some types of progress that persist. Any equipment you’ve unlocked in the forge is one, and your character stats are the other. You will find new items in the world, but not all of them can be unlocked in the forge. Almost all bosses will drop weapons that upon picking them up will become unlocked in the forge. Some forge unlocks are random drops from certain enemies.
Your stats are improved by finding and activating ancient tablets. These come in four flavors: critical, damage, faith, and stamina. They appear as different colors when activated which are yellow, red, white, and green respectively. Once you activate an ancient tablet, it is permanently activated even if you die, so you cannot lose the upgrade it gave to your corresponding character stat. Critical improves your chances to deal critical hits, and faith gives you more faith to use for praying at certain statues and doors. You can view your stats in the lower left on the pause screen for ones that are not in the HUD.
Health and stamina are shown at the top of the screen. The row of yellow icons shows the blessings that are currently buffing you, and you may have a similar row of red icons below that. These are negative buffs which can be curses or injuries from things like falling too far. Buffs reset when you die. Your faith gauge is in the lower left next to your active equipment. You have two sets of weapons that you can swap between with a button press. For example, one might be a one-handed sword and a shield, and the other a bow and arrows. There are also two-handed weapons that cannot be paired with shields.
Each area of the temple has several bosses, but you’re not required to beat all of them to advance. However, you will have to beat a boss to explore the rooms beyond its lair. So until you do, part of that region will be out of your reach. The guardians of the temple can be tough to take down, but there is almost always a teleporter you can activate in the previous room. There is a teleporter in the Filthblood Shelter as well, which will always take you to the last one you activated in the world. If you want to reuse a previous one, you have to travel back to it and activate it in the world again. (Only the last teleporter activated is remembered.)
Dark Devotion is a Souls-like, which means you need to learn the behaviors and patterns of your foes. Finding the best way to deal with them is important, but the roll dodge will be your best friend. You’ll use it on regular enemies and bosses alike. You can roll past a foe to get behind him or to dodge attacks. Roll dodging is very important if you want to stay alive.
The gameplay in Dark Devotion is very unforgiving. The fallen temple also contains booby traps, like spears poking out of the ceiling. These try to impale you if you walk under them. Sometimes they are annoying, because you won’t always see them until it’s too late thanks to the low light level in many areas. You can roll past them safely, but there are other dangers too (like spike pits, which will instantly kill you).
Killing enemies replenishes your faith gauge, and it also earns you experience points. These can be used to unlock skills in the Filthblood Shelter. There are five tiers of skills, and only one skill from each tier can be activated at a time. This means you can have five active skills of your choosing. For example, the Cat’s Claws skill increases your critical hit chance by five percent, and the Scrap Merchant skill replenishes your armor when you kill enemies. You’ll also unlock a library in the shelter, where you can reread some of the documents you find in the temple. Not all documents will appear in the library, though.
Bosses can be very difficult, and sometimes are just cheap. You may want to retry until you’ve learned their move set, and then start from the beginning of the temple area in question (or even the start of the temple) and do a full run back to them so you can have better equipment or healing items. The problem is that if you die again, that is all lost, meaning you have to do it again if you want to have another run at the boss with better equipment or more healing and armor repair items. One other minor issue is that the hitboxes on doors aren’t setup the best, as you have to stand right in the middle of the door or she won’t enter the door. This is especially noticeable with wider doors.
The music does its job well, setting a very dark and foreboding mood. The low light levels do the same, but can cause annoying moments at times. The sound effects are also well done, and bring the world to life and add weight to attacks.
Dark Devotion was a game I didn’t think I’d like at first, but then it drew me in. Still, I think that overall it’s not really a game for me. A lot of players will have a hard time with it because of it being a Souls-like with rogue-like elements. So many players might get stuck unable to make progress, or eventually quit as the game wears down their desire to keep playing. I definitely like the dark story, though. I’ve got well over 30 hours in the game at this point, but there is a lot more gameplay than that if you try to unlock everything in the forge or go for all the achievements! Dark Devotion is available on Steam and the Humble Store for $19.99. It is also coming to Nintendo Switch and PS4 this year. Do you have what it takes to make it to the deepest depths of the fallen temple, or will its dangers and secrets be too much for you?
Review copy provided by publisher.
Dark DevotionHibernian WorkshopThe Arcade Crew and Maple Whispering Limited