Fist Of The Douche
HIGH Satan’s Hell Cathedral is beautiful.
LOW The combat is a dispiriting slog in a combat-only game.
WTF The giant snake that leaves without bothering to have a boss fight.
How does one create flowing combat? How to capture the kind of fights that let a player feel like they’re dancing through melees, spinning around arenas, and crushing foes with style as well as brutal strength?
There’s plenty of different ways to manage it, from the quick weapon switching of DMC to the near-rhythm-based fighting of the Arkham-likes, but despite this array of approaches they all require a common element: free movement.
Players need to be able to move with their attacks for things to feel lively and impactful. It’s a necessary component of satisfying action, and the fact that Devil’s Hunt screws it up means that anything good that it might otherwise accomplish is built upon a faulty foundation.
Devils Hunt takes tells the story of Desmond, one of the least likeable main characters I’ve come across in ages. He’s a trust fund kid who’s bad at real estate development by day and terrible at MMA by night. His life takes a sudden turn for the worse when he commits suicide and winds up in Hell, where he’s immediately recruited by Satan to collect damned souls on Earth.
He also proves to terrible at this job.
Devil’s Hunt follows Desmond’s journey back and forth between Hell and Miami (somehow he’s able to tell the difference) as he discovers his intended role in the final battle between the holy and the infernal.
To its credit, Devil’s Hunt looks gorgeous most of the time. While the rare trips to realistic locations like office buildings and houses look strangely antiseptic and artificial, whenever the action moves to a location that lets the developers cut loose, things get impressive.
The game’s depiction of hell is startling. It’s fairly traditional with ornately gothic castles, lava waterfalls, and damned souls caged everywhere one looks, but it’s built with such style that I couldn’t help but be impressed, and the breathtaking architecture that grows out of (or is carved into?) the black rock of hell is a pleasure to explore.
Sadly, Devil’s Hunt isn’t primarily about sightseeing in Hell. No, it’s about killing demons, which is what gets it into trouble because the combat just isn’t there.
Desmond is achingly slow and his combat options are woefully basic, and these factors both lead to sluggish, repetitive battles. While Devil’s Hunt lets players switch between three different combat styles, they differ only in the color of Desmond’s arm as he does the same basic punch and weapon combos.
Desmond remains almost perfectly still when attacking, taking the only the smallest steps forward with each new blow, making it incredibly easy for foes to swarm him. No thought has been given to staggering and bullying enemies, nor are there any options for crowd control. The developers apparently want players to flail, dodge out of the way of incoming strikes, then just keep flailing until the enemy dies. There’s theoretically a counter system where the player can stun enemies if they block an attack at the right time, but the appearance of the counter symbol is inconsistent, and the intended timing is incomprehensible.
The special powers that Desmond can unlock in each of the three fighting styles add a little bit of spice, but in the end, even they underwhelm. While it’s nice to watch geysers of flame burst from the ground or holy chains streak down from the sky, Devil’s Hunt again disappoints by making sure that none of the attacks have any impact. Instead of being thrown around the arena or getting torn to pieces, enemies simply stutter when hit and then keep right on fighting.
This problem reaches its nadir with Desmond’s super-ability, wherein he transforms into an enormous and powerful demon… which teleports in front of enemies and flails his arms repetitively until they fall over. What should feel like an ultimate technique is so unimpressive that I restricted myself to using it only when it was required to kill a boss.
Devil’s Hunt ends just as the story is beginning. A boss is killed before credits roll, but every major question the script raises — what is Desmond’s role in the war between Heaven and Hell? How did all of this get started? What is the nature of the ‘third way’ that offers an escape from bloodshed? — all go unresolved.
This apparently is the first entry in a planned trilogy, and while the high production values suggest that the developers are staffed by talented visual stylists, I can’t see any value in coming back for more unless something can be done to completely overhaul the terrible combat of this combat-focused game.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Layopi Games and published by 1C Entertainment. It is currently available on PC, XBO, PS4, and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 10 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Blood, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol, and Violence. This is generally not appropriate for children. In addition to the omnipresent brutal violence, there’s alcohol use, suicide, and implied sexual violence. Or maybe not? Honestly, the game handles one questionable scene so poorly that it’s impossible to tell what happened. Older teens only, please.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: I played the majority of the game with the sound off, and encountered no difficulties. All dialogue is subtitled. The subtitles cannot be resized. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.