Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.
The subject of this installment: Daggerhood, developed by Woblyware and published by Ratalaika Games.
In light of all of the discussion about difficulty in games lately, I was reminded of a small indie I played a while ago — perfect grist for the discourse mill.
Daggerhood is a clever action/puzzle game with a great mechanic — the player controls a thief who can throw a dagger, and while the blade is still in flight, he can teleport to its location.
It’s a brilliant idea that has tons of possibilities and lends itself to a lot of creative situations. Can’t get through a small opening? Toss the dagger in and then teleport once the weapon makes it through to the other side. Can’t quite reach a far ledge by jumping? Leap as far as you can, toss the dagger, and then teleport to it as it reaches the ledge but before you before you fall to the bottom of the pit.
I can’t overstate how fresh and clever the concept is — and how much I liked it — but this also makes me incredibly sad because the developers go way, way, way overboard when it comes to setting the difficulty in Daggerhood.
Within just a few levels of beginning the adventure, it becomes clear that the developers have absolutely no mercy and are probably absurdly good at their own game. The challenge ramps up to an extreme degree, with many puzzles requiring lightning-fast reflexes and split-second timing. It was common for me to try some levels 20, 30, 40 times (or more) before I finally got the exact sequence of jumps, dagger tosses, teleports, and close calls dialed in on some of the more problematic levels.
I got about halfway through the campaign before I decided to call it quits because things just kept getting more and more unreasonable, and the level at which I was expected to perform was absurdly demanding.
It’s a real shame that Daggerhood goes bonkers and offers no mitigating options or difficulty levels because the core concept is so enjoyable. But no, these developers just got carried away with themselves — I’m guessing that they spent so much time with their own work that they didn’t realize how ridicu-hard it was to people who aren’t them.
If they decided to patch in an easier difficulty or some Celeste-style options, this would be a wonderful action title that I would be happy to recommend. However, as it stands I can’t suggest it to anyone except people looking for masochistic twitch challenges.