Déjà vu. Do you ever have that feeling? Maybe it comes in the form of an inkling that reminds you of multiple experiences all wrapped into one. In the battle between light and dark, good and evil, a hero caught in the middle fighting against both. It’s a trope that has been done many times across every medium. Marvel’s Ghost Rider, Devil May Cry, Doom, God of War; all came to mind over the 6-hour Devil’s Hunt campaign.
Everything from the story to combat feels like a greatest hits tour from those franchises’ recent outings. Devil’s Hunt offers a unique aesthetic and gorgeous environmental design. Indeed, it reaches for the heights of the games it’s emulating. Unfortunately, the clunky combat, uninspired level design, and the weak story were never going to allow Layopi Games’ ambitious attempt to rise above the hell they created.
- What is Devil’s Hunt? A 3rd person action-adventure title with light RPG elements. Based on the novel “Equilibrium” by Paweł Leśniak, you assume the role of Desmond as he looks to tip the scales in the everlasting battle between light and dark.
- Reviewed On: PC
- Price: $29.99 (Will need to verify)
- Developer: Layopi Games
- Publisher: 1C Entertainment
- Platforms: PC (PlayStation 4 & Xbox One coming in Q1 2020)
- Release Date: September 17, 2019
Doom and Gloom
The world is on fire. You have no idea where you are or how you got there. Monsters (reminiscent of Doom 2016’s Hell Knights) roam the streets killing civilians. Naturally, I, playing as Desmond, rush into the fray. In a light tutorial stage, I got comfortable with the basic combat controls, special abilities, and traversal elements that will be prevalent throughout the rest of the game. The developers don’t give much in the way of instruction and expect the player to figure it out as they go. Thankfully, the control scheme and combat design feel very similar to most 3rd person action games, making the need for instruction a moot point.
As I raced through the burning streets, unleashing my demonic powers, the first level came to a natural end: a big boss encounter. It’s here that I found the games’ insufficiency come to light. This particular giant hulking beast was simply like every other monster, only with far more health. Even though Desmond assumed his ultimate demon ass-kicking form, the whole fight was a frustratingly dull endeavor. There was one final flourish, however. Upon the health bar depleting, the game presents a Doom-like scripted event — the gory finisher move. Then, Desmond awakens to realize it was all just a dream.
It’s here that the main story elements come into play thrusting Desmond toward his inevitable fate as a soul hunting demon chained to Lucifer’s will. I didn’t find Desmond didn’t excite me as a character. Son of a real estate mogul, he lives in luxury. He has a desire to participate in underground boxing competitions. He’s selfish and unapproachable. We’re meant to feel sympathetic toward every unfortunate circumstance that comes his way, but to me it all comes across as well deserved. Even after making a deal with the devil, he never loses the attitude or looks for redemption, deciding to oppose every single character he comes across.
At this point, I’ve sat through about twenty minutes worth of cutscenes before getting back into the combat experience of the first level. As a newly anointed Executor, it’s now my job to collect the souls of the damned. As is custom, the more souls you collect, the more powerful you become. Souls come from defeating enemies, and they are also hidden throughout levels. They are used to unlock abilities.
Devil’s Hunt classifies these abilities into three different skill trees: the first a demon class, the second to help fight angels, and another called the void class. For each tree, I could also decide to invest in combos to power up my standard and heavy attacks. Out of all of the three, I found the Void class most interesting and effective. Void skill unlocks require the player to not only collect enough souls, but also collect upgrade cards. Unfortunately, in my playthrough, even when I found upgrade cards for the class, sometimes they did not activate a new skill. The game acted as if the upgrade card was never acquired. This major bug will hopefully be rectified in a timely patch after the game’s release.
The Bad & The Ugly
Speaking of flaws, let’s talk about the rougher parts of the game play. While the surroundings in the cut-scenes are rendered beautifully, the character movements are jagged and robot-like. Often, the character animations such as mouth movement do not line up with the dialogue. Thankfully, this same issue doesn’t translate to combat. These animations remain smooth and consistent, showcasing some strength from the developer. I think they spent most of their time on this and environmental design.
The combat mechanics are pretty dire. Every encounter feels slow and clunky (basically the inverse of what you’d expect playing as a mighty demon hunter). Another weird thing the developers implemented was a shaky-cam like effect whenever Desmond sprints. Also, when you run into uneven ground, the game requires a button press to traverse the terrain. As you can imagine, these elements don’t do much outside of annoying the heck out of you.
High Ground View
I’ll outline a handful of elements here to give you a more detailed look at Devil’s Hunt.
The developer team appears to have a larger story to tell here. But they all too quickly gloss over the concept of Desmond being the Savior and Destroyer as well as the McGuffin of Murial, who found a way to harness the power of both sides and now hides away from the conflict. To me, these are by far the most intriguing parts, but I was left with Desmond’s private pursuits to drive the story forward. The lack of intrigue is only compounded by how long some of the levels are; often dropping you into environments with no clear objectives to pursue.
Combat & Traversal
The combination of unresponsive controls and enemies that vary only in looks make every fight feel the same. As with the first boss encounter, every “difficult” enemy in the game is just a fresh coat of paint. Furthermore, upgrades never really make me feel like I was growing more powerful. I still found myself slowly walking across beams and arduously climbing cliff faces up to the bitter end. It all works in direct contradiction to the fact that I was supposed to be progressing.
Design & Graphical Fidelity
There is at least one portion that makes Devil’s Hunt shine, and that’s the character design and environment. The production value is impressive and only dips during the last few cut scenes. The characters themselves are unique and superbly designed, accurately reflecting the dark world that they find themselves in.
Regrettably, even with such gorgeous visuals, it is not enough to cover up the inadequate core gameplay underneath. It’s a valiant first attempt that didn’t quite get enough polish to truly shine. Perhaps someone that’s never played a 3rd person action game before may get a kick out of it, but those of us with some experience under our belts will not be satisfied. My hope is the team at Layopi Games will build on what they’ve developed here.
As I said, there is a lot to like visually in Devil’s Hunt, with the production design, UI, and lighting effects almost reaching AAA levels of quality. In the end, the short 6-hour campaign experience feels like a slog, and oftentimes unresponsive combat contributes to a feeling that Devil’s Hunt is a watered-down version of better games.
Game title: Devil's Hunt
Game description: A 3rd-person action-adventure title centered around the conflict between angels and demons. Fight your way through hell, earth, and the realm of the angels on a quest for vengeance and to tip the scales in the eternal war.
Story Elements - 4/10
Combat Elements - 5/10
Visual Elements - 7/10
Devil’s Hunt is an ambitious first attempt by the developers at Layopi Games. While the character and environment design are top-notch, they are upended by clunky gameplay elements and a lackluster story. The potential of Devil’s Hunt has me on the lookout for future titles from this studio, but I can’t recommend this most recent title in good faith.
- Beautifully designed environments and characters
- Expertly crafted lighting, shadows, and textures
- Special move effects
- Clunky controls and traversal
- Unappealing main character and aimless story
- Boring enemy and boss fights