Review: Dark Devotion (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • 4K HDR

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Dark Devotion
Format: PSN (1.34 GB)
Release Date: October 24, 2019
Publisher: The Arcade Crew
Developer: Hibernian Workshop
Original MSRP: $19.99 USD
ESRB Rating: M
A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Dark Devotion is hard, and I don’t mean a just a little hard. It’s challenging and the studio that developed Dark Devotion meant it to be. To be completely transparent, I had trouble with this title; it was hard for me. But one of the high points in my play time was that I never gave up and I kept trying. With a lot of trial and error, I found myself gaining inches into the dark Lovecraft-inspired dungeon. The game design and world made me not want to quit, as is often the case with games of this difficulty.

I hate to use terms like “Dark Souls-inspired” or “rogue-like”, but elements of those are here. For instance, you have one life to get through the dungeon; make sure it’s a good one. Also, if you happen to (and you will) die, you are brought back to the hub world with no equipment or items from your last run. It didn’t dawn on me that this was that type of game until I hurriedly pressed the attack button and died. When I realized that all the progress I made had to be re-done, I was annoyed. But like I said before, the world of Dark Devotion inspired me to continue on.

The story that unfolds is sparse at first. You are a Templar filled with light, and as you enter the darkness of the High Temple you are stricken down and brought back to life. The game does a good job of providing the atmosphere of this bleak world and its tale. NPC’s are scattered through the game’s hub to give context and back story. For me there was not a lot of story on the front end of my time with Dark Devotion to really root me to the tale and make the story a priority in my case.

The combat of Dark Devotion, when done right, is carefully played out like a dance. Hit, roll away, block, and then hit again, and then rinse and repeat. At no time did I feel like I mastered the combat, and often I felt like I was playing games again for the first time. But then magic started to happen and I picked up (however slightly) the routine and started dancing with my enemies. I wish I could say it was easy to pick up and hard to master, but it wasn’t for me. Your mileage may vary on this one though, since I found myself button mashing a lot in the beginning, rather than a measured approach that you need.

At its heart Dark Devotion is a Side Scrolling Action RPG. It’s a little bit weird at first but it works fairly well. I will get my biggest complaint out of the way though: I wish the game had an inventory management system. There is a crude one in place already that allows you to pick up poultices and pieces of armor and weapons. But I would like more than replacing an item that has more green than the one before. To be able to see the item more clearly and what it does would be a huge benefit to the player.

Visuals:
One of Dark Devotion‘s greatest strength is its graphics. Now with that said, it is very sparse, as it should be. The game has a very dark palette which it uses to its advantage, bringing life to this world. Don’t expect bright visuals and a high texture count. You will not find it here. What you will find is ambience in its place, which on a title like this has more real estate than a high polygon count.

Audio:
The audio uses ambience much like the graphics do to bring to life Dark Devotion‘s world to high effect. It has a minimal use of music to set up a mood, as well as an excellent use of sound effects to strengthen the point. At points, the audio gets to be a bit creepy, which I found brilliant. Minimalist was the way to go in this title and it helps, to be sure.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Dark Devotion was a strange title for me. Relying on its difficulty at first was a deterrent for me. But I learned a little about myself, in that the fourteen year old me who beat difficult games of yore was still kicking around. I met the challenge and raised up to it and took it on face to face. One of the highlights to games like this is that the challenge, while quite high, can be overcome. But to some it may be a deterrent, and I need to keep that in mind as well. This title is not for everyone and that’s okay.

And let’s not forget the ambience the game has in spades. It’s dark and moody as it should be. While not graphically compelling like new some of the newer games, what it is is unique. A side scrolling adventure with RPG elements does not come around as often as they should, in my opinion. So here it is: I would recommend Dark Devotion to those who are not faint of heart. If you’re looking for a challenge, here you go. But for those who do not like difficult games, give this a try. You might find yourself being surprised at how far you’ll get.

Score:

7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Shawn Hiers

Shawn Hiers

Disabled gamer. Married Father of 4, and playing since the Atari days. I have a passion for all things Lego and an avid Toy Collector. I am also an huge Doctor Who Fan and can talk all things Who for hours 🙂

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