‘Under the Radar’ is a series dedicated to the unknown titles that many players might have missed. These can range from games that no one’s ever heard of to known titles that haven’t seemed to gain any traction for one reason or another. The aim isn’t to pour over the title in a critical fashion, it’s to celebrate the qualities that make it unique and fun to play. This iteration explores the 2D Souls-like Dark Devotion.
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You wake up to a flash of blinding light. The sounds of a heavy hammer pounding on steel echo in the distance. As you come to, you notice the architecture around you. This must have been a church years ago, however now the only thing it resembles is a dreary cave. You meander over to the blacksmith to ask where you are, however he simply hands you an old looking sword and shield.
You wonder why you’d need these, and suddenly a feeling of dread washes over you. Injured soldiers of the church litter the area, with most of their wounds looking fatal. There is something far more sinister going on here than you first realized. You hear a man shouting about twenty feet from you, so you jog over to ask him what’s going on.
He tells you that they’ve been waiting for someone like you to help out with the monster epidemic in the tunnels. Things have gotten bad, and they need all of the help they can get when it comes to clearing out the tunnels. He points to an old wooden door to your right and gestures for you to go through it. The door opens with a creak and you walk through it into the darkness.
The door slams shut behind you, and you glance around the room you’ve just entered. It’s a dungeon that appears to be as old as time itself, and only partially lit. The rotating saws and spear traps give you the idea that visitors aren’t very welcome. Shambling humanoid figures with swords as long as their bodies roam the halls, and they don’t look too pleased by your presence. The place reeks of death, and you get the impression that whatever happened here is too awful to even discuss.
The deeper you tread into the dungeon’s halls, the more foreboding it becomes. Eventually, you come across a giant man with his arms chained in the center of a circle, and he doesn’t look friendly. He eventually breaks free and tries to attack you, however you quickly make short work of him. It’s best to consider everyone a threat moving forward; you doubt that even the gods are on your side at this point.
Your path becomes more and more menacing as you move through the dungeon. Creatures of an entirely new ferocity roam the area while you’re still simply trying to get your bearings. Where is this all leading? What happened here? Where did these monstrosities come from? These questions echo through your mind as you unknowingly stumble into the Executioner’s chamber.
The Executioner is nothing like the brute you faced before. He’s quick, precise, and methodical in his assault. For the first time since you walked through that weathered door, you feel like you’re fighting for your life. The battle is hard fought, but it is your impeccable timing that ends up winning you the day. With the Executioner dead, the floor crumbles below and you fall into the abyss.
You have no idea how far you’ve fallen. The Executioner’s skewered body lays behind you. What comes next is entirely unexpected. You end up in what appears to be a forest filled with strange fauna unlike anything you’ve ever seen. How is this possible? We must be far below the surface by now, yet life still exists. The only thing you’re certain of is that all of this life is still out to kill you. Cutting down these creatures proves to be more challenging than what came before, however you feel more equipped for these encounters.
Eventually, you make your way through a clearing in the forest. The noise stops. Everything around you begins to feel more…divine. Architecture begins to appear again, and you press forward with a feeling of unease. That’s when you come face to face with something almost indescribable.
A giant woman as tall as a house floats above the ground before you. You blood runs cold, and a thousand questions run through your mind at once. What are you? A spirit? A monster? A god?!? You don’t know whether to attack it or pray for mercy. The last thing you remember is the mysterious entity hurling a bolt of light at you before everything went black.
You wake up to a flash of blinding light. The sounds of a heavy hammer pounding on steel echo in the distance.
So what did you guys think of that? Instead of picking the game apart, I wanted to turn one ‘run’ of Dark Devotion into a story. Many have likely written this game off as another 2D Dark Souls clone, but there’s something special about this title. Combat is slow and methodical, but randomly generated item placement keep each playthrough interesting. The world building can also be enjoyed through observing the world around you and reading notes rather than sitting through cutscenes.
There’s so much more to the game then what was shown here, so if any of this excites you, you’ll probably love Dark Devotion. There’s all sorts of different weapons to collect and bosses to fight that it would be a disservice to show them all here. Just be warned, the punishing difficulty will be a turn off for some.
If you liked this style of Under the Radar, please let me know! I’m trying to incorporate as many cool surprises as I can!