Sponsored By: Blame it on Strangeblades, even though I bought it myself
Time Played: 65 minutes, in 30 second increments
Forget epilepsy warnings, this game should have a panic-attack warning.
Back in the days when a quarter bought you a few minutes of gameplay, Devil Daggers would have made a mint. Maybe they would have given you an extra life or two just to save wear and tear on the kickplates, but the difficulty curve would have been right at home. These days arcades are mostly dead, and while that means we can’t go through our pockets looking for loose change, it does mean that the sort of people who like to play games that can be played in short bursts must turn to the home market.
Fortunately, Gaben provides. Devil Daggers has released on Steam for the price of half a roll of quarters. Employing the argument “But Mom! Think of how much cheaper it will be to buy a Genesis instead of playing games in the arcade!” I’ve saved approximately $27.50 so far.
How did I spend $32.50 in sixty-five minutes playing Devil Daggers? I did it the old-fashioned way: I died a lot.
Devil Daggers is what would happen if Smash TV were played from the first-person perspective. You play as a nameless, faceless protagonist who can throw daggers like Buddy the Elf throws snowballs. There is no story in Devil Daggers. The game doesn’t even care how many monsters you kill, only how long you keep breathing. When you die, your time is shown to you and compared with all of the other players on the internet, including your friends.
Then you click the mouse and try again, maybe lasting a little longer this time, but probably not.
My best time as I write this is sixty-two seconds, which was a glorious fluke. On average I’m lasting forty seconds, give or take a nickel, and I’m barely managing that. This game is hard like coming up with metaphors for “hard” without stumbling into the innuendo zone is hard. It is pitiless and merciless.
It’s also one of the most exciting games I’ve ever played.
In crafting Devil Daggers, Sorath captured a pure, adrenaline– and cortisol–fueled style of play, in a way that very few games have managed without coin slots. After a twenty-minute session, my palms are slipping off the mouse, my shirt is drenched through and my language takes a turn for the explicit.
The graphics are built for speed. Though the engine was made specially for Devil Daggers, it looks like it got pulled straight out of Quake 2, which means that our long national nightmare of 1980’s retro graphics is coming to a close – and a new nightmare of 1990’s retro graphics is in the offing. I hope you like triangles, because if Devil Daggers takes off, you’ll be seeing a lot of them. Or very few of them. I’m not sure how to phrase that.
Devil Daggers has everything I grew up with in video games, condensed down into its purest, most dangerous form. As such, it’s addictive and poses the tangible danger of overdose. Twenty minutes at a sitting is the longest I can play without a bottle of gatorade and some lithium.
I don’t think I can stop myself at this point. Devil Daggers knows how to make the player punch the “just one more” button.
Spoiler warning: It’s the R key.
Is it the Bloodborne of arcade shooters?
Bloodborne has nothing on this game for difficulty. I was able to play twenty minutes before I had to restart with Bloodborne. Here, I’m lucky to go forty seconds before I see the start menu, and twenty minutes total is my maximum session play-time.
If you don’t believe me, believe Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann, who admitted to being unable to get past sixty seconds in Devil Daggers, while famously declaring the secret to defeating an enemy in Bloodborne was to “just step aside and murder him.”
I hate to say it, since Bloodborne afforded me so many more opportunities for blood-related puns, but Devil Daggers is the new yardstick by which punishingly hard games must be measured. Bloodborne hides its difficulty behind layers and layers of opaque systems. Devil Daggers lays it right out there and says “You already know everything you need to know to beat me. Can you?”
Devil Daggers is the Devil Daggers of video games. Update your scales accordingly.
May I… Make an announcement?
Just a reminder. April 15th is the final day we're accepting requests for the requests-only month of May.
I know some of you like waiting until the last minute. This is the last minute.
Just mosey on over to my Steam library and pick something with less than 30 minutes of playtime. PM me here on the site and your pick will be entered to be selected during next week's conference call.