Devilian Is Like An Afternoon Nap In Gaming Form

Trion Worlds have been churning out MMOs for so very long now that one seems to blur into the next. Their latest to appear on Steam, a translation of the South Korean free-to-play original, is Devilian [official site]. It said it was a Diablo-ish action RPG, so I thought – HMMMM? IS IT THOUGH? And took a look. Well, it sort of is. And it’s sort of an afternoon nap in gaming form. Here are my impressions from a few hours of somnambulistic slashing.

Devilian is the gaming equivalent of a convincingly painted view of scenery. It looks pretty decent until you get too close and bang your head on the wall. It’s a cross between an action RPG and a free-to-play MMO, that offers an expanse of entirely free content, eight hundred thousand different in-game currencies, ninety-seven billion menus, and an almost hypnotically bland grind.

Which makes me think: there must have been so many talented people working on this. It looks great, it’s functional, enormously complex systems are all interacting and working, thousands of players are simultaneously on one server… none of this is easy to get right. And yet the result is something completely without inspiration, wholly derivative, and existing only to hopefully pull in some of that sweet, sweet Marketplace purchasing before the next game exactly like it comes along. What a strange thing to work so hard to create.

Incredibly, after downloading the 6.4GB available on UK Steam, Devilian needs to download another 7GB if you want to play on European servers. It needs to download the entire game again. It leaves the other entire game on your hard drive, in case you want to switch back again. And there’s even a third entire version to get if you pick the Public Test server! Once in, you’re immediately shoved down the inexorable waterslide of the game, funnelled from region to region, either killing five of this, or clicking on three of that, then running to the next quest distributor, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat…

It’s remarkable how easy it is to be consumed by that process. Apart from some very dodgy detection over whether I’m left clicking on an enemy to attack it, or on the ground to move there, it’s incredibly simple to play (despite the ludicrous pages and pages of interfaces and skill trees). I levelled up to 5 before I even realised I was levelling up, new skills appearing silently on my number keys, waves of enemies and their bosses nonchalantly chopped up and spread on the floor. Then all of a sudden it was introducing what I think is supposed to be the game’s USP – the ability to briefly transform into a more powerful character, with its own skills, skill trees, XP (in the form of souls), levels and goodness knows what else. Just in case you didn’t already have enough windows to juggle. When you’ve built up enough of a meter you can hit V, and then quickly use your uber-powers before you’re reduced to your regular all-powerful self.

The character creator lets you pick between a very limited selection of near-identical faces, for each of the four classes: Evoker (magician, female), Berserker (fighter, male), Shadowhunter (mage-ish, male), or Cannoner (mechanic, female). You pick their eye and skin colour, maybe their lipstick, and then notice as you rotate the lady ones they’ve taken the time to add boob-jiggle physics to this screen.

Extraordinarily, if you play as an Evoker, your main outfit is a “corset”, which proves to be a crotch-length nightie that really wouldn’t protect anyone’s boobies from the cold. She also runs with her left forearm always above her elbow, making her look like a girl on her hen night trying to get to the toilet in time. Still, she’s ludicrously over-powered, letting you kill pretty much everything before it gets anywhere close.

I’ve mostly been playing as a Berserker, which makes for a more vulnerable character, but I’ve still yet to come close to dying after many hours. Because that’s not really the nature of this thing – it’s about carrying on. It’s a game of carrying on.

But my goodness me, it’s so badly written. It’s not that it’s broken English – I’ve yet to spot so much as a typo – but more a stream of consciousness that is utterly impenetrable. It’s like trying to read a geography textbook, where you find yourself reading the same paragraph again and again, each time getting halfway through before you realise you’ve not taken a word of it in. Go on, read this, and see how quickly you find yourself thinking about what you’re having for dinner, or whose turn it is to put the bins out.

“Well, this book has certainly seen better days. Is that blood? Okay then.

Well, the stuff Gart wrote about isn’t too interesting, but it looks like there’s another sheet of paper in here? Looks like a contract? I can make out the Van Houte seal, but this name… ‘Kavel’.

I… should take this to Asperon. That’s not a good name. Can’t imagine many people would name their children after the vile betrayer that tried to kill Ael.”

So yeah, I suppose if Laura has the car back by 5.30, I’ll still be able to get to the supermarket in time… Wait, what? Sorry? Oh God, yeah, Devilian.

There’s pages and pages of this coma-inducing drivel, which I cannot imagine anyone wouldn’t soon be just clicking past and making do with the abbreviated mission summary and map pointer, not really caring why they’re killing seven of those, just getting on with it because it’s there.

‘Because it’s there’ really isn’t enough when pretty much everyone’s Steam has a pile of untouched greats waiting for a spare moment. Devilian is the very embodiment of ‘Because it’s there’ gaming, and I cannot deny that it’s consumed a couple of afternoons with its banal hack-n-slashing. I’ve not tried to fathom the daily rewards, the enchanting, infusing, refining and artefacts promised in my inventory menus, the weird cards it keeps giving me without saying why, the Daily Checklist, Patron Benefits, Marketplace (where a mount will cost you about £8, even though it gives you a free one very early on), the Title, Proficiency and Resistance menus… Seriously, it goes on and on and on, and none of it offering any more actual game. Just faff upon faff, seeming to replace the notion of elaboration with busywork. Still though, you can click-click-click your way through mindless battles with a podcast on, and not really have lost anything.

It doesn’t say anything when it times you out. It just silently closes itself in the background, only missed when you notice its tab doesn’t appear on your Start bar. And once it’s gone, it’s pretty hard to worry about starting it again. Another game nearly exactly the same as this one will roll along in a few days, equally free, equally bland, equally competently made, and you’ll not much mind that one either.

Oh, and one last thing. The title screen features the most peculiar breathing I’ve ever seen – see it bigger here.

33 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Considering Diablo-likes already put me to sleep, I suspect I’d end up in a coma if I tried to play this.

  2. Awesomeclaw says:

    It’s a shame that there aren’t more of these that are any good. Diablo and Path of Exile are the only ARPGs I can really bare to spend any time with, and I kind of feel like I’ve played enough of both (not that either are bad, just that I want to move on to something different).

    Maybe I’ll check Devilian out and spend an hour or two playing just to see what it’s like.

    • anHorse says:

      Grim Dawn’s probably the most different recent arpg, although the Van Helsing games are worth a look too

      Marvel Heroes is surprisingly good but it’s a very standard arpg, albeit one with MMO style raids in the endgame

      • Awesomeclaw says:

        I’ve been keeping an eye on Grim Dawn although I prefer to avoid early access games. I gave Van Helsing a go but it just felt super janky and not very polished – do the later releases improve in this area at all?

        Marvel Heroes is OK but I think the loot system is kind of bad – most items feel kind of undifferentiated and equipping a new item doesn’t really make my character feel any more powerful. I do enjoy how different the characters feel though (e.g. Black Widow vs Juggernaut). That game’s much more fleshed out than the cash grab I expected (even if it does go a bit far with the microtransactions).

        • gabrielonuris says:

          I’m with you about Diablo and PoE; they’re the only aRPG I could have fun playing. I was eager to try Grim Dawn, but then I took a Titan Quest to the knee, and that game was everything I hate about video games: it’s extremely grindy, most of the skills are useless and you almost have no AoE spells to deal with large numbers of mobs, and that alone was a big turn off for me. If Grim Dawn is in anyway similar to Titan Quest, I’ll surely avoid it.

        • Bing_oh says:

          Grim Dawn is actually fun…though, admittedly, it’s very much the child of Titan Quest, so don’t expect much of you didn’t like TQ.

          I very nearly gave up on Van Helsing within the first hour. It’s mechanics are just different enough from other ARPG’s that it’s a bit disorienting. However, I pushed through and found that there actually is a pretty decent game hidden under there. It’s kinda ARPG-light…not alot of meat to it, but a tasty little snack that’s probably not particularly good for you.

          • Kiytan says:

            There is now a new version of van helsing out that combines all 3 games into one, using the updated engine from number 3. (if you own all 3 you can get it for free)

    • DingDongDaddio says:

      At least check out something like Din’s Curse that does something unique with the formula instead of this derivative like this trash. There’s a few articles about the game here on RPS too.

    • Zorrac555 says:

      Path of Exile has been adding a lot of new stuff (4th Act to the main story, daily quest system, ect) that’s really expanded the game over the past few months/over the last year. Is totally worth checking out again if you haven’t played in a awhile.

  3. Sian says:

    [Use Grammar Nazi Flag on Flagpole]
    *creak* *creak* *creak*

    No typos? I might be mistaken, but there are two misplaced question marks in the text you posted:
    “Well, the stuff Gart wrote about isn’t too interesting, but it looks like there’s another sheet of paper in here? Looks like a contract?”
    Those aren’t questions, they’re statements.

    [Pick up Grammar Nazi Flag]
    I can’t do that.
    [Use Flagpole]
    *creak* *creak* *creak*
    [Pick up Grammar Nazi Flag]
    This might come in handy.

    • Unclepauly says:

      “Well, the stuff Gart wrote about isn’t too interesting, but it looks like there’s another sheet of paper in here? Looks like a contract?”

      Looks like the statement was a question when it happened to me.

    • Daemoroth says:

      Ever turned to a friend and said “You going to have pizza?”, or “You’re joining us for a beer?”? Look up at the sky and say “Looks like a bird? Maybe a plane?” That’s how I read it, nothing wrong here.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      No typos? No typos. No, typos.

  4. trashmyego says:

    Considered giving this a whirl as a break from Path of Exile/Diablo, but then I saw Trion Worlds tagged on it. Glad to hear that I’m not missing out on anything.

  5. teppic says:

    A refreshing review, since some of the MMO sites (massivelyop & mmorpg.com) feature heavy direct advertising and marketing from Trion and have been pushing this game *hard* for months, and not surprisingly making it out to be wonderful.

    • JamesGoblin says:

      @teppic It seems that MMORPG.com advertises it with “there are worse ways to waste your time” and such compliments =) You can check RipperX’s review here – link to youtu.be

      Still, some folks in MMORPG’s comments accused him of the same: link to mmorpg.com !?

  6. Premium User Badge

    Skabooga says:

    What, nobody else twitches their pinky finger when they breathe?

  7. LacSlyer says:

    The generic feel of this game cannot be understated. Trion Worlds seem to have consistently met the overwhelming ambition of making yet another generic game with zero innovation. Will they ever return from the world of free to play at this rate? Maybe Atlas Reactor can bring them out of this slump.

    • trashmyego says:

      Trion didn’t even make this, they ported it over from South Korea. Not saying their own properties are any better, they’re all turned into shitshow f2p pay-walled monstrosities.

      • LacSlyer says:

        Interesting, thanks for the info. This surprises me still because of how bland this game feels screams Trion. I’m still optimistic for Atlas Reactor, for some ungodly reason.

  8. blaboo says:

    I don’t understand how you can go on about how bland and uninspired this is and then give JC3’s grindy advancement-via-minigames how-many-more-things-can-i-blow-up-before-i-realize-theres-no-actual-content nonsenseathon a glowing review. I don’t understand you guys at all anymore.

  9. Fnord73 says:

    That breathing. And that armor. Did you notice she had downwards-curving spikes on her metal bra, making sure she would get killed by a near miss in real swordcombat? So weird.

  10. KevinLew says:

    I thought for sure that the weird breathing in the title screen was a tribute to Star Control 2’s Syreen.

  11. Ringwraith says:

    I’ve been playing this a bit, and it’s got a lot of usual weird Korean MMO tat in mechanics and style, (I swear they’ve copied some base models from TERA, either that or their character design is just that derivative).
    However, it does, work as click-death-looting time. It even lets you refund your skill trees whenever you want! Last thing I saw that did that was Guild Wars 2, and that certainly doesn’t play the same.

    I have been enjoying it, even though I recognise it’s not really anything special, and Path of Exile is a better game if you want something with cohesive direction and silly character depth (although doesn’t have skill refunds as that’d break it in… ways, it’s odd). Also tons of flaws like giving you way too much stuff that shouldn’t take up inventory space (mounts occupy a slot, like, really?)

    Although I think I just like making things explode with volatile materials. Dungeons are (thus far) very upfront with just being about cutting through everything in sight on the way to a boss, which I can get behind. Also explosions.
    Only Torchlight 2 lets me use oversized cannons on a regular basis, and that didn’t let me fire massive corridor-filling blasts and call down huge aerial cannonballs. It’s almost a niche!

  12. Chaoslord AJ says:

    “Well, this book has certainly seen better days. Is that blood? Okay then.
    Well, the stuff Gart wrote about isn’t too interesting, but it looks like there’s another sheet of paper in here? Looks like a contract? I can make out the Van Houte seal, but this name… ‘Kavel’.
    I… should take this to Asperon. That’s not a good name. Can’t imagine many people would name their children after the vile betrayer that tried to kill Ael.”

    Actually this does make me interested in the game.
    There is a bloody book, some guy named Kavel probably someone mysterious and another guy who is named after a betrayer for reasons.
    Sound like serious plot hooks. At least in my imagination.

    Compare it to Diablo 3 developed in english language. Standard fare horror tropes, cliche characters, very weak dialogue and script: “All heaven becomes realm of terrooaarr.” “You’ll never find the next sword piece. It’s in… oops.”

    From the get-go I know the end boss will be Diablo, he will never be killed regardless of trying so everything is in vain anyway and the “soulstone” -mechanics/plotlines make no sense at all as the rest of the story.

    • Niko says:

      Guess it’s you; agree on Diablo 3’s writing being mind-numbingly boring, though.

      • Chaoslord AJ says:

        Made an account and tried this one. Nice graphics amd athmosphere but really grindy and seems to be getting nowhere.
        Bored after half an hour. Maybe it’s better with friends?

  13. Schwacko says:

    I think this review is a bit harsh. The game is not great, but the combat is fun. Yes, it is easy and you are over powered but personally I thought that was fun especially chaining together 15-20 mobs and one shotting them with a meteor. The cards that were mentioned are actually a good idea as well as the gem system which are almost identical to how the gem system progresses in Diablo 3. The only thing you really will need to purchase is inventory space, but as far as pay to win I reached max lv and I felt no need to buy anything in the game. If you just run through this game real quick and look at everything it does badly and discard it then thats fine, but if you actually take the time to learn the systems in the game especially the card system you might actually enjoy this game like I do.

  14. WizNick says:

    About the double download part, you can just copy(or even move) the contents of the Live-US directory to Live-EU and it will not have to redownload the 7 GBs as long as you keep playing only at the EU server.
    Other than that, the article is accurate, the game feels too generic.

  15. MellowKrogoth says:

    This game seems to have great visuals, at least on the female character portraits (no screenshots of the males). I like it when games abandon all pretense of realism to focus on artistic freedom and attractiveness.

    Of course I like my sims as well, if they all did that it would get boring.

  16. Voil says:

    First off when was the start of MMOs hard? Back when WoW was in vanilla stage and was mad gimped? Nah, if you haven’t made it to end game then, really, you shouldn’t make a review. Of course the leveling in the game is easy. Just as leveling up in diablo is easy or any other ARPG in existence. In fact, it’s harder than diablo 3. I stood at the beginning of a rift and went to sleep as my friends power leveled me to 70 in 20 minutes. The end game in Devilian is very unforgiving, VERY DIFFICULT, and perhaps you just didn’t give it a chance. I have played this game since headstart release and i’ve been playing it for 10+ hours every day. Sure, I agree the game is a little complicated to follow, but it seriously holds your hand throughout the entire game SPREADING out the tutorials of vast amount of things that can be done if you just pay attention. Being that you didn’t learn that “Devilian” Form is garbage and that you said “Return to your reduced power self” tells me you played until like level 20. The game does have its problems. But you did not say a single PROBLEM that is actually a problem. I am not making this out of rudeness, I really am not. But, I feel like your review is unnecessarily harsh and it sounds like you had poor expectations going into it.

    • Tekrunner says:

      Don’t you think that the leveling process being so mind-numbingly bland is a problem in and of itself? What’s the point of having an interesting and challenging end game if people don’t make it through the ~20h of running from one exclamation mark to the next to get there? I have a level 38 character, I took a break from playing because of the ridiculous server issues (I’m surprised no one in the comments mentioned the fact that 3 days after release Trion managed to lose almost all character data from a server, and was unable to restore a backup) and I’m having a hard time going back.