Driving Me Mad
GOOD Some interesting game mechanics.
BAD Procedural generation leads to confusing pathways toward objectives.
WTF Numerous glitches, including spontaneous player death.
When a videogame or movie says its title in the opening scene, I always know I’m in for a treat. Sometimes, it’s a masterpiece, but more often it’s a ‘masterpiece’ like Mad Devils — a product with great ideas but one that falls short in the execution.
Mad Devils follows the members of an elite military unit who find themselves reincarnated as demons in the depths of hell. In order to discover the truth of what happened to them, they must fight their way through the hordes of the underworld and search for their missing companions. The introduction and opening cutscenes are done slideshow-style and utilize some great artwork, reminiscent of Yoji Shinkawa (of Metal Gear fame).
The gameplay centers around running and gunning from anisometric perspective through linear areas filled with enemies that are linked to a sort of hub area, which itself also includes enemies. This can be done solo or in online co-op play.
The levels off of the hub are procedurally generated, which is a good idea for adding replayability. However, the map-building code tends to create muddy and confusing paths that frequently caused me to become lost. This problem is exacerbated by the frequency of fiery gates that prevent the player from moving forward unless all enemies are killed. A common trope, but problematic when enemies are sometimes hidden in a random side branch that’s easily overlooked.
The demonic enemies are competent and capable of getting into position to shoot at the player effectively while making use of Mad Devils‘ cover system. Unfortunately, while having a cover system is a good idea in a shooter like this, it’s hard to identify what is and what is not cover. Also, cover is automatically taken when the player walks up next to it, but it sometimes fails to work — frustrating whenever I was low on health and trying to take a breather.
One cool system that does work is the active reload mechanic. Whenever I reload my gun, a bar pops up with a line moving across and another line stationary in the middle. If I tapped the reload button when the lines meet, the reload animation finished much sooner. It’s been seen in other games, of course, but it remains a simple and satisfying reward that can be a big help in tight combat situations.
Levels in Mad Devils tend to end with a boss fight, as one might expect. Unfortunately, these encounters end up being total pushovers, leading to fairly anticlimactic endings. The most difficult enemies in the game are grenadier demons who can fire from offscreen, causing my character to fall to the ground and temporarily taking me out of combat.
While this is all fine enough, a major factor causing my view of this game to drop is the large and frequent variety of bugs encountered while playing through on co-op.
During my first time loading in, we encountered a glitch that caused our characters to be stuck in place. We reloaded, and made it a bit further through the intro level but then got in a massive randomly-generated mazelike area, and then my friend spontaneously died. This occurred again several times throughout our co-op sessions. I hope that these issues will be fixed in the future, but they were a large problem during the review period.
Other frequent issues included getting stuck on objects, getting stuck in cover, being unable to move, getting stuck on enemies and also stuck on the co-op partner. It was almost more enjoyable to catalog the glitches than it was playing the game…
While I appreciate that the team behind Mad Devils is trying to deliver a good, solid shooter, I cannot in good conscience recommend it until the bugs are worked out and the level design is tweaked.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Itzy Interactive Inc. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 1 hour of play was devoted to the single-player modes. 2 hours of play were spent in the co-op multiplayer mode.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is not yet rated. The game contains intense violence and mature themes, and would not be appropriate for younger children.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles are not able to be altered or resized. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls.
As a lover of portable gaming, he plays on his Switch when he can and alternates between older handhelds when it suits his mood. He also enjoys playing a wide variety of games on PC, in particular strategy games like Victoria II. His favorite game is TWEWY (The World Ends With You) and he owns a copy of every version to prove it.
The humble Ohioan hopes to develop his writing and analysis through his work at GameCritics in his spare time, and also mess around with music production and maybe invent a new subgenre.