Dark Devotion by the indie studio Hibernian Workshop is a 2D action RPG game, successfully funded on Kickstarter one year ago.
The game will be published by The Arcade Crew, a new branch of French publisher DotEmu that focus mainly on assisting retro indie developers.
You might have wondered why choose a name like “Dark Devotion”? Does this game have any connection to Dark Souls series? Well, yes it most certainly has, and the developers are rather proud of that. Dark Devotion basically a 2D version of Dark Souls, similar to games like Death’s Gambit.
To the Temple, and Beyond
We had the chance to play one of the developer versions on the game, one that’s similar to the Heavy and Light demos Kickstarter backers got to play.
The story tells us of an order of fanatic Templars that dedicate themselves to a cruel god. This god of theirs commands them to show their loyalty by overcoming a temple full of trials and death traps. No religious order is complete without its own inquisition, who throws every “heretic” into the bowls of the same terrifying temple.
You play as a young Templar, taken by the order when she was just a child. The Templars training children to be fearless warriors that could lead their crusades and show their devotion on the way to salvation. Usually, Templars face the trials of the temple as a group, but for some reason, our heroine decides she has to go it by herself and survive all alone.
Dark Devotion will reveal the story little by little, sometimes in horrible and bizarre ways. You’ll have to work hard to get those small pieces of lore. The temple is crowded with monsters, scattered across four worlds. Each world has between three to five routes you can choose from, but once you do you cannot turn back, unlike other Souls-like titles.
Between the different worlds, you’ll pass through a hub area called Filthblood Shelter. There, you can upgrade your character using the “Faith” that you gathered on your way there.
Choose Your Weapon
The demo clearly shows why the game is categorized as an action-RPG. The variety of equipment such as weapons, armors, and shields all with different stats, was rather impressive. Additionally, you have blessings, curses, and magic spells you can use on yourselves or your enemies to conduct a symphony of killing and death.
The weapons all differ from one another. They have different damage, speed and, of course, animation. Using a sword is completely unlike using a spear, and requires you to change your style and tactics altogether.
You upgrade and customize weapons by engravings rune that grant different powers that are effective against particular enemies.
Much like in Dead Cells, you’ll be able to spend your currency on upgrades, revealing secrets, treasure chests, unlocking doors and all sorts of other stuff that’ll open new routes, weapons or story details.
Darker Than Dark
Dark Devotion’s theme is naturally very dark and the enemies, especially the bosses and their battles, are amazingly designed. For example, one of the bosses is shackled to a wall by his arm, but will rip his hand off mid-battle and will suddenly become much, much more dangerous.
Bosses are not the only challenge out there. The game will test you every step of the way, and you’ll find yourselves overthinking even the simplest of actions. How do you go down a cliff without taking fall damage, but also avoiding the monster waiting for you below?
Because of that, the game is pretty slow-paced, considering it is a 2D action title. It’s much slower than the likes of Dead Cells, for example. On the other hand, the developers have mentioned there will be a Speed Run mode. This mode will most probably limit your character development, as you won’t be gathering a lot of Faith, but surely the game will add some trick to compensate on that.
Dark Devotion sports a pixel-art 2D style, with a very dark color palette. You can vividly feel the desolation, and miss out on a lot of secrets if you let all that depressing darkness get to you. The art actually looks charming in its own way, and it is clear that the developers invested a lot of time into the animations, particularly those during combat.
Dark Devotion is undoubtedly inspired by the prototype of the genre – Dark Souls, but it is unique and well-made nonetheless. Hibernian Workshop put their minds into making every mechanic and element as polished as possible, and it will likely be a must-play for fans of the genre or pixel art 2D action games.