This is what happens when a Bullet Hell game snorts cocaine through its eyes.
I thought 2018 was an amazing year for video games, but now 2019 comes around and hits me straight in the jaw with even more fantastic titles. And spoiler alert: today’s IP is my strongest contender for Game of the Year. And the most ironic thing is that it belongs to a genre I never enjoyed… before playing this game! But enough rambling: let’s see how this humble shoot ’em up can offer one of the best experiences you’ll get out there in this Devil Engine review.
Ground control to Major Shmup
If you don’t know about Protoculture Games, I… Don’t blame you. As many indie developers out there, the best stuff usually disappears among a sea of mediocre Triple-A titles that make more noise than they deserve to. But don’t get fooled: this small yet talented team should not be underestimated in terms of quality, as they actually know how to handle arcade titles with a fair yet demanding level of challenge.
The premise of the title is simple: you shoot things, you shoot bigger things, and then you shoot a really big thing at the end of the stage. No barely pasted plot, no annoying tutorials, nothing. It’s you, your ship, and your skill dodging a lot of bullets. However, the thing that does make Devil Engine unique is that it’s always giving you something as a reward after you get a Game Over which, granted, you’ll be getting a lot of them. Just get used to seeing a lot of this if you want to play this game:
But the odd thing about Devil Engine is that dying never feels unfair or straight up bullcrap, as everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) in this game exudes fantastic level and enemy design. Every single enemy shows you what it does on every level flawlessly, and at times it also teaches you a certain attack that either that stage’s miniboss or final boss will use against you. This may sound simple enough to implement on a game like this until you realize that, for the most part, shoot ’em up titles are notorious for throwing everything against the player in the most ridiculous and over the top ways. And if you think the level design is the only thing remarkable about Devil Engine, think again, because this game never stops rewarding you!
Good old unlockable days
Aside from its dynamic and enjoyable gameplay (we have 3 types of weapons, each one with a different type of bomb, a dodge that allows us to absorb bullets to keep our combo meter filled up and the ability to control the ship’s speed), Devil Engine offers two things that will blow your mind the moment you kick the bucket for the first time: you can unlock things in this game. And I’m not talking about dull things like “wow gee you got a new colour palette for the menu after finishing the game without dying”, far from it.
In this title, you can unlock tons (and I mean TONS) of features just by playing it. From different visual effects for the game like scan lines that are actually well done (you could learn a thing or two about that, Castlevania Requiem) or a handheld-like style if you are playing this game on Switch, to other goodies like playable ships, music, challenges that are the real definition of the word ‘challenge’ (hope you are ready to sweat, because you sure as hell will after playing all of them) and other interesting things. You won’t be bored with this game anytime soon, that’s for sure.
There’s a spaceship waiting in the sky
If I have to be honest, I really hate when a game manages to surprise me more than I thought it would do, as I can’t say good enough things about it without sounding like a complete fanboy drooling all over the keyboard while writing these lines. Don’t be fooled though: when I don’t have much more to say about a game, that doesn’t mean I think it’s a really dull or boring game, far from it.
Devil Engine is one of those games that doesn’t try to reinvent its genre, yet it manages to offer a lovely-crafted experience that never falls into tediousness or boredom. And you can even beat levels without killing, how f*cking awesome is that?! This game is one of those hidden gems like my dear Way of the Passive Fist or the incredible Timespinner that I really wish more people gave their support in order to make it perdure as one of the best Shmups titles out there.
Does it have flaws? To be honest, I tried really hard to find some but I couldn’t find any remarkable problem with this title! You have challenges to overcome, a really amazing Arcade adventure that will make you master your ability to evade colourful bullets and tons of ways to make your playthrough unique and fun. And you can play it on the go in your Switch, so I don’t know what excuse you may have to not get this game! Congratulations Devil Engine: you managed to blow my mind.