Devil’s Dare 悪魔の挑戦
When a zombie outbreak occurs at a gaming expo it is up to four gamers to beat back the undead and save the day. Fortunately for them a red fairy, named Ivan, shows up to offer special powers in return for the souls of all the zombies they slay. Agreeing to the deal our four heroes set out to kick some ass old school style.
2D side scrolling beat ‘em ups once dominated the arcades and home consoles, but they are a rarity these days. There have been a few exceptions recently, but none of them really managed to replicate the frantic, skill based gameplay of the arcade titles. Daring to be different, Devil’s Dare forgoes grinding in favor of actually skill and mixes up tons of pop culture references with a healthy dose of challenging gameplay. Cash is king in this game, the virtual type not micro-transactions, and if you run out so does your luck. Coins are awarded for kills, the more gruesome the more profitable, but everything from upgrades to revives will cost you. To hammer this point home, the game will delete your precious save right in front of you if you don’t have the money to pay for a continue. Sadistic yes, but it does ensure that the adrenaline is pumping while you play and you can have fun without worrying about grinding.
Gameplay wise the Capcom influences are very easy to spot. The characters, four of which are available from the start and two that have to be unlocked, are all unique. Each of them have their own moves and special attacks to master. The button presses required to pull off the moves might be the same, but the way you have to play in order to use a character effectively differs greatly. The speed and challenge of the game really reminded me of games such as Alien Vs Predator, Battle Circuit, Final Fight and other genre classics which is definitely not a bad thing.
The game is packed to the gills with parodies of pop culture and these come at you as thick and fast as the hordes of zombies you fight. The bosses, who are all inspired by 90s horror movie monsters, are the most obvious examples, but everything from the character designs to the levels and background details will bring a smile to the faces of old school gamers. I don’t want to spoil anything as discovering all the visual references is half the fun, but you’ll spot a few examples in the screenshots. Let’s just say that everything from The Legend of Zelda and Mortal Kombat to Guilty Gear and Battletoads receive a nod in some way.
Devil’s Dare provides you with four levels to play through in any order. The twist is that each successive level is longer and harder than the previous one. This means that if you select the sewer first you’ll only have to play through one section and fight a standard boss, but if you save it for last it will have more sub levels and have a much tougher version of the boss waiting for you. If the game provided you with unlimited continues most players would probably breeze through it once and never return, so the permadeath feature is a great way to encourage repeated playthroughs. The selectable levels and dynamic difficulty level also ensures that subsequent playthroughs are not boring or repetitive. Just a word of advice, make sure you have at least $7000 when you hit level 10, trust me on that one.
Visually, Devil’s Dare really embraces the retro look and feel. For a title so obviously influenced by classic titles in the genre I would have expected a much more colorful palette, but the sepia toned visuals fit the horror theme quite nicely. The resolution appears to be fixed at 1024X768, but the pixel art visuals are still crammed with plenty of style and personality. The lack of color makes the blood stand out more, but can also make things look a bit crowded, especially in multi-player mode. The audio fits the game perfectly and the tunes all sound like they were lifted straight from the arcades.
Smooth controls are vitally important for this genre and I am happy to report that Devil’s Dare gets it right. The characters are all very responsive and with practice the moves are easy to pull off. The lack of jump button feels a bit strange at first, but performing combos and chains feel natural after a few tries. This game isn’t a button masher though and carefully timing is required to make the most of your attacks. You only get one life and your character can get juggled by enemies if you are not careful, so it is very important to master the use of your special bar. Finishing off downed enemies with a special move drains the meter, but also rewards you with fatalities which rakes in the cash. Kill enough enemies at the same time with a special move and it becomes a massacre which bestows health giving food in addition to the cash. However, the special meter is also required to perform “breakout” attacks if you are pinned by enemies, so if you waste the meter you can kiss a chunk of your health goodbye.
To make things a little easier on you, a set of random upgrades are displayed after you beat each level and you can purchase one if you desire. Some increase your health, some make your special moves more powerful and there is even one called a “Soul Token” which allows you to retry a level upon death. The random nature of these items can make things tricky as you can go through a whole game without the luck of being presented with a soul token to buy. Although you only get one life, you can use some of your cash to revive your character on the spot if they die. The amount increases each time it happens though, so you will only be able to do this a couple of times before you are broke. Leaning too much on this feature will also mean that you won’t have enough cash available for upgrades, so it is best used sparingly.
The game features a 4 player multi-player mode, but unfortunately it is for local co-op only. Considering the Indie nature of the game this shouldn’t be surprising as I have seen much larger developers struggle with implementing efficient online code for these types of games. The local mode is a blast if you can round up enough friends/controllers, but even in single player the game is a lot of fun. My only complaints are that dodging projectiles can be very frustrating, especially when the screen is crowded and you can’t see them being hurled at you. Another pet peeve is that your character prioritizes picking up food/money when you press the attack button which can lead to situations where you are surrounded by enemies and want to attack, but instead pick up some random cash nearby and get pummeled in the process.
Devil’s Dare is not a game for players who enjoy grinding in order to lower the difficulty of a game or people who are afraid of being challenged. The game can be merciless, but it never feels impossible, especially when you master the characters. Thanks to all the parodies flying about, players who remember all the classic games and movies being referenced will have the most fun, but overall this is a title that anyone who enjoys the genre will be able to appreciate.
- OS: Windows XP Service Pack 3
- Processor: 1.7 GHz Dual Core
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260, ATI Radeon 4870 HD, Intel HD 3000, or equivalent card with at least 512 MB VRAM
- Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
- Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card
- Additional Notes: Someuser may require Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable Package in order to run.
- OS: Windows 7
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo at 2.2 GHz, AMD Athlon 64 2.2Ghz
- Memory: 3 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460, AMD Radeon HD 6850
- Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
- Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card
- Additional Notes: Some users may require Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable Package in order to run.