RPS Advent Calendar, Dec 24th: Devil Daggers

Here we are at last. What was the best game of 2016? What was the best hell of 2016? It’s the same game. It’s behind the final door of the RPS Advent Calendar, which lists our favourite games from across the year…

It’s Devil Daggers!

Graham: I don’t care what day it is, this is the best game of the year.

It’s Id’s early aesthetic (eg. skulls) boiled down into an arena shooter. It’s also cribbed Id’s early weapon design (shotgun and lightning gun, specifically), merging them together into the player’s hand, which sprays red death at a growing mob of enemies (eg. skulls) that are chasing after you and the strange obelisks that birth them.

An interesting novelty, short on ‘content’, or so I keep reading. But I went back and back and back and I started to survive longer, because I started to notice its nuances. How you can turbocharge the sprayed projectiles from your hand using red gems dropped by those obelisks, for example, and how timing the moment of that turbocharge can help you to reach further which in turn prompts you to let those obelisks live for longer. How there are more enemies to be discovered than I initially realised, once I could live long enough to meet them, and how each disrupts my established movement patterns and forces me to re-jig my enemy priority list again and…

I love everything about it. The way it looks, the way it feels, the way it sounds. The sound! I don’t normally much notice or care about audio, but the worble of your sprayed projectiles, the tinny tinkling when you hit an enemy, the splorch when you pop them, the low discordant hum which underscores the entire game, the chittering of those giant arena-adjacent bugs, the way everything seems to be screaming…

I keep trailing off because I feel like I could go on and on about every detail.

I play Devil Daggers for 5, 10, 15 minutes at a time, but it’s the game I’ve played most this year. It’s a game I play in the same way I play N, Trackmania and Spelunky. It is the Those Games of the first-person shooter, and it deserves to be a classic in the way those games are classics.

Alec: Wait, come on. The game of 2016? Be serious.

Devil Daggers has always existed. Long after the world is only ash and bone and a shatter’d visage, whose weave and jutting lips and short fingers tell that its sculptor well that greed read, there will still be Devil Daggers. Proud and evil and wonderful and eternal. It’s simply that 2016 just so happened to be the year that Devil Daggers first tore a fissure into our reality and poked an immortal tendril through it.

I confess, I can only only dance with the devil in the pale moonlight for so long until I reach the upper limit of what my reflexes can do. Nonetheless, I consider Devil Daggers to be an essentially perfect game. It knows exactly what it is doing – nothing is wasted, nothing is an accident, nothing is distraction. Clear-eyed focus beyond focus. The very essence of game: you vs the machine, dancing the endless dance, pursued not just by things but by audio that openly states the dark unreality of what we do when we play a game about shooting things.

Doom became Quake became Half-Life became Call of Duty became everything that is story and DLC and new graphics cards. In that other universe, the one Devil Daggers was born in, before it created its own eternal life in its pocket hell-dimension, Doom became Quake became Devil Daggers. Purity and darkness and demons and sound. The hero 2016 needs, not the one 2016 deserves right now.

Brendan: I didn’t put an ‘X’ next to this on our mysterious internal games of the year spreadsheet. I’ve only played it for about 15-20 minutes. It’s good, I can tell it’s good, but I don’t feel compelled to return. The Devil holds no sway over me. Sorry, guys.

John: I’m delighted Devil Daggers is our GOTY, despite its being a game I wouldn’t even have considered including. I absolutely adored my very brief time playing this idiotically hard game, yet would never have played it if Pip and Alice hadn’t forced me to.

It’s exceptionally good, and that it manages to be exceptionally good in a minute and a half (haha, I’m lying, I’ve never survived 90 seconds) is a huge part of why. It captures the complexity and brilliance of hardcore FPS, and titrates it into a concentrated plip of purest game.

But it didn’t capture me. I completely get why it’s captured others, and that’s why I’m so pleased it’s topped our Calendar. For me, this is being on the other side of the fence from 2013, when Jim and I argued hard for Teleglitch to be behind Door 24, and were (very reasonably) pipped by Kentucky Route Zero. Devil Daggers is very much 2016’s Teleglitch, and an honourable winner. Stunning game, and I’m terrible at it.

Pip: I’m with Brendy – I can see why you lot love it and I can see why it’s ended up at the top of this list – but it’s not for me. I don’t have the yearning for a better score, nor the particular skillset to make my fumbling in the dark with demons particularly enjoyable. I remember seeing most of RPS sneaking into Steam for bouts of Devil Daggery over the year but I was off in AdVenture Capitalist, spending those short bursts of time between news stories and whatnot investing in my imaginary business empire. In terms of highly streamlined games which are extremely polished I’d say I align better with Thumper this year. Oh. And I’m also going to use this entry to remind you that I’m still angry AND disappointed that no-one else got into Subnautica. I hope Horace continually kicks you out of the Devil Daggers high score tables for this. SUBNAUTICA FROM A FEW PATCHES AGO: GOTY.

Adam: I always write too much, or more than I expected to at any rate. So I’m going to be brief here.

I’ve been reading a lot of reviews of and thoughts about Super Mario Run recently and all of them make me think of Devil Daggers. Not because the games are similar but because I wish every game attracted the same level of analysis. How exactly does Mario run, how does he jump, how are the levels designed to make a game in which you don’t have control of the direction you’re going very much a game in which you control the direction that you’re going?

Some spectacularly designed and refined games fall through the gaps of critical analysis because people don’t take the time to appreciate them. Devil Daggers is lean and muscular (though there’s still room for plenty of boney scaffolding as well), and at a glance it might feel slight. It doesn’t have a name like Mario, Doom or Quake attached to bring the attention of a boatload of players and critics on board. It could have passed by unnoticed, except in passing, with barely a thought given to precisely why it works so well.

And yet here we are, naming it our game of the year. That makes me extremely happy because it’s a game that gets every detail of its design just right. I might prefer the messy character work and mathematics of a grand strategy game long-term, but I’ve never come across one as perfectly crafted as Devil Daggers and almost certainly never will. Aesthetically, it’s creepy, artistically distinct, and painstakingly legible, in both audio and visual departments, and the pace of every projectile and enemy is exactly right. It’s challenging and life is brief, but it never wastes your time. It’s leaderboards are both the carrot and the stick, promising improvement (and showing how to achieve it through accessible replays of other peoples’ best attempts) and showing how much is left to do.

It could have been full of unlockables, rewards in the form of new weapons or skills, and punishments in the form of new enemies and layouts, but instead it is precisely what it appears to be. It’s a whole thing, without end.

Alice: I’ve not peeked – hey, I like to be surprised too – but I assume we’ve awarded Devil Daggers prizes for Bestest Best Sound and Bestest Best Best-Looking as well as Bestest Best Game. Great job, everyone. We really nailed this. I adore Devil Daggers.

I was taken at first glance, falling for its satanic take on early 3D with wibbly-wobbly models and unsmoothed textures building creatures far more complex than was possible Back in the Day. Good juxtaposition, that. Then I heard the floobling gun, the groaning skulls and… ah, I adore it. This is all backed up by the thrill of weaving backwards through a swarm of skulls by sound alone while blasting at the gem-filled guts of a vast skullsnake winding overhead.

It took me ten hours to survive five minutes in Devil Daggers. I adore the experience of surviving to reach a new wave (especially if it introduces new enemies), being startled, dying, learning to survive it, then later coming to actually understand it. Devil Daggers is full of careful timings and opportunities that only become clear after hours. At first, it seemed to simply spawn more – and nastier – skulls when it pleases. But the better I got, the more I appreciated its patterns. What seemed like an impossible situation two hours before is, I’d realise, actually the game feeding me power-ups before it kicks difficulty up a notch. Waves work with and against each other in lovely ways, and roaring through them with my wibblegun is a treat.

Lay down a good time, challenge some chums to do better, and away you go for hours of fun playing the same few minutes.

Here’s a cool skulltip: slow-mo Devil Daggers is an amazing soundtrack if you enjoy warbling groaning. Press , to slow replays down (. to speed up, / to reset) a few notches, alt-tab, and enjoy groans that I find mighty useful for blocking out distractions while working.

Oh, and one of the coolest things I’ve seen this year was Devil Daggers projected onto the bare stone wall of an underground chamber at a pal’s event.

74 Comments

  1. A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

    I seem to be first so rather than say anything let’s save this spot for Devil Daggers willy waving.

    So come on then, what’s your top score?

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      165 seconds here. I have much to learn.

    • bokchoy says:

      301.4037, I still have to go further!

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      330-ish several months ago and have only managed a couple 310s and one adrenaline-flooding 328-ish run since, despite playing every other night. Still such an enjoyable game!

  2. CmdrCrunchy says:

    I’m with Brendy C on this one. Played for a half hour, had my fill. I would have liked unlockables (yes I know) or something to aim towards. However I certainly appreciate a lot of people enjoying it for how pure it is. Maybe 5 or so years ago I would have agreed.

    However that’s the joy of RPS’s yearly picks, that they divide and admit its a subjective list from the outset. I’ll still defend to the death their pick of Far Cry 3 a few years back, which I loved.

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      subdog says:

      Still bitter about FC3 because it was so… safe. Picking a brave GOTY like Devil Daggers is what makes RPS my go-to site.

    • alh_p says:

      Well at least this one has been out a while. I’m deeply suspicious of any game released within a few weeks being named goty, as was the case with (yawn) FC3. Good on daggers, even though I’ve never played it.

  3. tslog says:

    Not in my top 50 for this year.

    Countless games have better movement, shooting mechanics, satisfying progression, variety of enemies and situations….. Devil daggers shows you all it has within five minutes, which is next to nothing, and then asks you to do it to satisfy an unhealthy meaninglessness urge for repetition ?
    And i’m supposed to forego my desire for a deeper satisfying game then for the bang your head agaist the wall tension it provides ? Not while I’m alive. Difficulty tension is never a replacement for deeper fulfilling systems, let alone for good AI – WHICH NOBODY TALKS ABOUT and seeminly nobody wants, and which Devils Daggers ignores.
    ( AI is one of the the next dramatic steps in what gaming can do and nobody seems to want it.)

    • fuggles says:

      The AI in this appears to be perfect – you are a magnet, they are iron filings. What do you want from games that isn’t being done?

      A surprise result to be… I don’t know what I feel about this result, however I’ve not played it. I know I would drop it within an hour though.

    • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

      Everybody wants better AI and has been waiting for it for a couple of decades now. There’s reasons why it ain’t moved on much and there was an excellent series on it on RPS if you have a search.

      DD, meanwhile, is a classic example of a perfect game: It knows what it wants to be and it achieves that without missing anything. Fair enough you might want more from games, but it’s nice to play something that so nails one concept.

      • lancelot says:

        I think some games clearly dumb down the AI on purpose. In Assassin’s Creed Syndicate everything is dumbed down to the extreme — parkour, shooting, melee combat, driving, seems pretty clear that it’s a design decision. In most other open world action games shooting enemies also feels like shooting mannequins (hmm… should it feel exactly like shooting a living and breathing human being in the guts? That’s probably a discussion for another day), but maybe the question is whether it’s so difficult to implement advanced AI, or whether it’s difficult to build an entertaining game around that.

        I think Far Cry 4 stands out in that aspect (haven’t played Primal), with enemies running to machine gun mounts, one guy charging forward trying to discover the player’s hiding place while others are covering that guy, all the interactions between the NPCs and the wildlife. FC4 (maybe Batman Arkham series too) certainly managed to build something interesting around more complex NPC behavior in an action game.

        (not Alice, unlike all the other replies)

      • tslog says:

        As a frequent reader of RPS, widespread reviews, EDGE, blogs from more thoughtful gamers, Critical Distance…I can tell you from what I’ve seen is that discussion and expression of that desire for much better AI is sorely lacking.

        It’s no coincidence that difficulty tension games have replaced generally the desire for better AI games. Souls for eg, and now Devil Daggers are inclusive of that trend.

        Did you notice anyone mentioning AI, or how often, in the above Games of the year discussion for eg ?

        • GameWarden says:

          People only notice AI when it’s bad.

        • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

          Ok, I get your point it doesn’t get talked about a lot in the gaming press, but if I can paraphrase the RPS series correctly: basically AI in games has advanced enormously if you understand what is that AI is doing in games nowadays. Basically, the stuff that the computer is working out and creating compared to the things actual people made it is phenomenal. However the AI a certain type of gamer (and I lump you and I in that group as I think we’re of the same ilk) when we talk AI we talk FPS enemies. And that hasn’t changed much since Half-Life and Fear. But you look at them and you realise they only seemed clever because they talked.

          You and me need to talk Alien: Isolation, really. THat was my favourite game of last year (was it last year? Maybe year before) and RPS loved it too, and that game got really close to that ideal seeded in our heads 20 years ago that if AI enemies keep getting this exponentially clever you could base a whole game about taking one intelligent enemy on. A:I felt like that, although if you played too long or read into it you realise it’s all smoke and mirrors. AI is so far away from delivering what we want there’s really not a lot to talk about. Hence my point. We all want better AI, and have done for decades, but there’s nothing to be gained from saying “this game was fine, but, better AI would make it better”.

          I want to agree with you, but no, 2017 will not be the year great AI brings great games.

          (Slight side note: Last Guardian sounds interesting, think we need to play that. Sounds like another game where a long time was spent making one creature’s AI as great as possible. Really hope it doesn’t die in a ditch like A:I did).

    • Urthman says:

      AI seems kind of pointless when there are so many great multi-player games. You’re never going to make AI that’s as interesting to play against as real people. And you could never survive a game like Far Cry where the NPCs are actually as smart as human opponents. If a game is evenly-matched enough that you would have a chance against intelligent enemies, it’s probably going to be even better as a multi-player game.

      • Zenicetus says:

        That might apply to games like CoD where the player is evenly matched, more or less, with the enemies. But there is another category of singleplayer game like the Arkham series, Dishonored, etc. These are power fantasies, where asymmetric ability vs. the enemies is the whole point of the game. If you dropped a dozen Batmens into an Arkham game as a multiplayer feature, then no player would ever feel like Batman.

        That’s where good AI can make a difference, with mooks that act realistically with flanking and use of cover, presenting a challenge in numbers. Plenty of AAA singleplayer games still don’t get this right. Like the really poor AI in Mafia III which is utterly predictable in responding to lures, or else popping up their heads from cover for whack-a-mole shots.

        Better AI would also improve boss fights. Too many games use tricks to force the player out of their normal use of abilities. Like the boss fights in DX:HR (before patching). The end boss fight in Rise of the Tomb Raider is another really annoying example. With better AI, you wouldn’t need to force that kind of heavily scripted action on a player to win the fight.

        • A Gentleman and a Taffer says:

          That’s a good point, the immersive sims. Everyone said Deus Ex was great but if only the AI wasn’t so dumb… and yet… it wouldn’t be the same would it. Dishonored 2 and Mankind Divided are basically the same. I would love, love, a game where everytime you broke into somewhere there was a realistic nber of guards (like, 2) but they were clever enough to still make it a real challenge. So hard to do. Like someone mentioned above, whatever AI can do multiplayer can do 10x better

          • Baines says:

            AI can do one thing better than multiplayer, it can field enemies to play against whenever you want to play.

            How many games have their multiplayer audience last more than two months? How many have trouble after two weeks? How many games do you spend as much time in queues as you do actually playing a match? Even when a game still has an online audience, how hard is it to get a game in anything other than the most popular match types? And how is that matchmaking quality?

            That is the fatal flaw of multiplayer against other humans, that you need enough other humans available to play.

            (Honestly, AI has several advantages over human multiplayer.)

      • emertonom says:

        I feel like this comment is particularly ironic in 2016, the year that Google revealed AlphaGo, their world-class Go-playing AI. (AlphaGo for GOTY 2016?) Never say “never” when it comes to tech. I feel like you can make a case for saying it’s at least fifteen years off, but further than that and you’re past what we can usefully predict about future technology.

        • Landiss says:

          I think that’s part of the point. Advancements in AI technology is incredible, but we don’t see it almost anywhere in games.

          I still hope that in a few years game of the year will sport an AI enemy that will actively learn from its mistakes and based on what player do. This is sorely needed especially in strategy games, which basically always lack something with AI.

          For example, you know what Sid Meier said about AI? That you don’t need to build smarter AI, because if it plays good, people will think it’s cheating, so it’s easier to just let it cheat. I think that’s bullshit and definitely doesn’t apply to players who love strategy games.

          • KenTWOu says:

            Aforementioned Alien: Isolation was that game two years ago. Its AI was accused of cheating.

    • Blowfeld81 says:

      When talking about AI in FPS, it was about 10 years ago, when I played F.E.A.R on my very first PC and thought that a new era for AI had begun and was imagining all the possibilities about how crazy cool AI will behave in 10 years.
      Which brings us to 2016. And the glorious AI of games like Call Of Duty, Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1;

      25 year old me in the past would be very dissapointed.

  4. Faldrath says:

    Pip, Subnautica should qualify next year when it leaves EA, correct?

    Anyway, Devil Daggers is something I don’t think I’d ever enjoy playing, but I enjoyed watching Alice’s videos a while ago. I’m glad RPS chose it, anyway, since they’re the only site out there who could do such a thing.

    Can we talk about the games that should have made the list but didn’t? There’s Stardew Valley, there’s Dark Souls 3, there’s Atlantic Fleet (come on Tim Stone, help me out here), there’s my personal pick Automobilista, there probably is Forza Horizon 3 (which I just bought on the Xmas sale), there are a couple of games I haven’t played yet but apparently are also very good, like Abzu and Motorsport Manager (who singlehandedly revives a genre that had its moment in the 90s), there’s… Enderal? Does it qualify?

    Lotsa good games. 2016 had that going for it, at least. Probably only that. Merry Horacemas everyone!

    • emertonom says:

      Enderal didn’t make the advent calendar proper, but it was included in “Best Mods of 2016,” which was a separate article. link to rockpapershotgun.com

      Edit: Best mods, not Bestest.

    • hamilcarp says:

      I’ve heard a whole spectrum of opinions on Automobilista and I don’t know what to believe. All I want is a solid singleplayer/career mode.

      • Faldrath says:

        Unfortunately the one thing that Automobilista lacks is a career mode. That being said, it’s an excellent single-player racer, and it has arguably the best force-feedback you can find. (By “best”, I mean “purest”, that is, free of canned effects. A lot of people like canned effects, though – it’s up to you.)

        It is also the best F1 game out there – even if it doesn’t have the licenses. It’s the only game where you can drive F1s from the 1960s to 2014. It has a ton of content, both cars and tracks, that you can only find there.

        It also has the “underdog factor”: a game made by a handful of devs working from their homes in different parts of the world (Brazil, England, Netherlands, Croatia, a couple more) that can compete in most aspects with the big boys in the field. It doesn’t look that good out of the box, but with a few tweaks (documented in the manual) it can look rather decent.

        It’s on sale on Steam now, and I’d recommend trying it out. (disclaimer: I’m friends with the lead dev and helped Reiza with community management for a few months)

  5. kwyjibo says:

    This was my second most played game this year (after Duelyst). I stopped playing it because no one else I knew was, and I really need someone to compete with. What’s the point in bragging about your highscore if no one even knows what it represents?

    It is excellent.

  6. Alice O'Connor says:

    Whew! Exhausting covertly writing all those in everyone’s distinct styles on Christmas Eve, but it was well worth it.

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    quasiotter says:

    With the way y’all have written about it, I would have been surprised if the game chosen for December 24 was anything else!

    This is the first time I’ve ever agreed with a publication for a best-of-anything-for-the-year, mostly because it’s a cheap game that can run on an average-spec personal computer.

  8. DeFrank says:

    Every time I see someone gush over this game I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. I just don’t get it.

    • Vinraith says:

      Ditto. It’s a gimmick game whose appeal is utterly lost on me, but I think the critical gaming press is so desperate for novelty at this point that they end up down some very strange rabbit holes.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Maybe it’s an age thing? I dunno. All the RPS writers are younger than me. By a lot. I can see some alternate version of myself at a younger age being excited by this game. But I don’t have the reflexes I once had, and lately I want deeper systems that keep my mind active, and not just my fingers. Mindless twitch gaming has zero appeal. But that’s a geezer gamer talking, so feel free to ignore.

      Even if it’s not my cup of gore, at least this year I can understand why RPS chose this one for GOTY, unlike a few choices in past years.

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        particlese says:

        Potentially an age or physical ability thing, yeah. There is a fair amount of strategy/planning possible once one has a handle on what’s going on, but that’s mostly based on motion and prioritization in reaction to what’s in and will be in the arena. If the reflexes really aren’t there or capable of being honed enough to effect those strategies, the game probably just ends up a fruitless (though maybe still exciting for a bit) struggle. The same would happen if you have the reflexes but not the attention span to improve.

      • Brendan Caldwell says:

        I’m the youngest person on the team, and I seem to have liked it the least. So I guess that theory has gone out the windie!

        • Zenicetus says:

          Possibly, but I’ll bet you’re still in what we might call the same age cohort with the other RPS writers in demographic terms. The youngest in the group, but only by a few years and not decades?

          It’s when “decades” separate experience that one notices these things. Whippersnapper. ;)

    • Jediben says:

      It’s a young person thing; they think it’s great because it’s a shared experience or something. Remember that the wave spawns are always the same and so everyone faces the same challenge. Add to this the brevity of the experience and it tickles their microscopic attention spans like Rod Hull and Terry Wogan.

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        particlese says:

        Small qualification: The timings of the spawns remain the same aside from extensions to the sequence in successive versions of the game, but the later versions do randomize the positions of the spawns to some extent, and player position and actions determine enemy movement, so it’s not exactly a deterministic puzzle game. (Not derogatory coming from me, by the way; I love some of those, too.)

      • fish99 says:

        I’m 43 and loved it. I also barely play any competitive games.

      • anon459 says:

        I don’t enjoy playing thins game(which is weird, since I like quake and such. I just don’t really enjoy score-attack games, I think) but I still think it absolutely deserves GOTY for its audio and visual design which are ten miles beyond any other game this year. Games in general seem to be losing their sense of atmosphere, but not Devil Daggers. Devil Daggers is artwork. I don’t need to play this game to love it because just watching high-score runs on youtube is better than watching most blockbuster movies, to me.

    • DeFrank says:

      I dunno… I’m 38 and it’s the ho-hummest of the ho-hummiest of the Advent Calendar for me. *shrug* I think I’m just going to stick with the Collective Insanity theory. :)

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    johannsebastianbach says:

    B…b…but Stardew Valley? Saddest Christmas Eve of my life. :-(

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      particlese says:

      Huh, that is sad and weird it’s not on the calendar, given how much love there is for it. December clearly needs to be longer.

    • Turkey says:

      I think everyone just forgot it was a 2016 game since it came out so early in the year.

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    particlese says:

    I expected the “best hell” and perhaps a “best Alice distracter” award, but this…

    I am pleased. I’m kind of amazed it got here with its early release buried by a year full of great games – my personal recent pick being Thumper – but I couldn’t agree more with the choice of Devil Daggers for the top overall spot.

  11. tslog says:

    How about this example:

    If you pick just one Doom encounter arena from, let’s say the 2nd half of the game with all weapons unlocked and most enemies available to fight, how is that five minutes of overall Doom gameplay not better than what devil daggers has done as a whole game ? How?

    • Urthman says:

      For one thing, you can can survive 5 minutes of Doom playing on a console with a controller. Devil Daggers? No way. Devil Daggers is like the distilled essence of the difference between a console FPS and a PC FPS played with mouse and keyboard.

      • Kasjer says:

        If DD devs would bother to code a proper controller support with a level of aim assist comparable to what is found in Doom, it could be played fairly well. This is not an age of clumsy analogue sticks anymore. You can play game like Titanfall (both of them) with a controller on PC online and still having a blast playing with and against m+k users.

        Besides, the point still stands. You could ramp up monsters damage in Doom to be so high you will die as easy as in Devil Daggers. You could then take a single slice of level and throw endless waves of enemies at the player and it still would be a superior game to DD in terms of variety, gameplay mechanics and pure fun.

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      subdog says:

      These aren’t equivalent games. DD may evoke DOOM’s aesthetic and perspective but otherwise it’s a pointless comparison. It’s like asking why racing games exist when I can just drive fast in GTA instead.

      • HeavyStorm says:

        Equivalent is a strong word. But comparable? DD is a FPS about shooting at enemies waves, and Doom is a FPS about gradually progressing in a map by encountering and then shooting waves of enemies.

        It’s not the same as comparing GTA and a driving game.

        • tslog says:

          Easily compareable. Both can seen as An arena based survive or die game, but only in the way to support my example below as reductionist done for clarity.

          Where it’s not comparable is how superior is Doom in all regards; Nu of Weapons available, Varity of enemies, geography in Doom instead of a flat plane in DD, clambering, jumping, and speed of movement, the gory finishing move, better AI….need I go on more ?

          Imagine Bethesda released just one later Doom arena thats in the current game before the game was released. That Doom arena gameplay is far superior then any gameplay in Devil Daggers. Comfortably. Whould that 1 Doom area get RPS game of the year if full Doom game was released in 2017 ? If consistent then it would have to be.

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            subdog says:

            The quality of a game is not a sum of its features.

          • DeFrank says:

            “The quality of a game is not a sum of its features.”

            I think many would argue that at the vary least, it contributes.

          • April March says:

            Not necessarily. Feature glut is a thing.

            I haven’t played NuDoom, so I can’t compare. but I have played Devil Daggers, and I can say it’s like poetry; it has nothing it doesn’t need. Even a level would ruin it, because you’re not meant to maneuver or take cover; your only defensive tools are meant to be dodging and killing the things before they kill you.

  12. lancelot says:

    Kinda sad that there was no place in the calendar and in the collective RPS heart for traditional point-and-click adventure games. Those have been thriving this year. I have no interest in Telltale games or solitary exploration games or Goblins-like puzzlers, and still I had plenty of really good stuff to play this year. Downfall Redux and Silence are probably my favorites from 2016. Both are significantly tweaking the traditional pnc formula (Downfall Redux isn’t even a pnc because it’s keyboard only, but it’s a pnc in a higher sense) without completely discarding the puzzles. If you don’t mind some amount of more old-school inventory juggling, there are Slap Village (with top-notch production values) and OneShot (I actually liked its “traditional” puzzles the best). If you want something more casual and don’t mind the episodic format, you have Bear With Me, Sally Face, The Slaughter.

    And those are just the ones that I consider really really good. There were also Nelly Cootalot, Yesterday Origins, The Little Acre, Shardlight, Demetrios, The Song of Seven, The Last Time, The Last Door Season 2, and plenty of others.

  13. Synesthesia says:

    I was also hoping for some subnautica love. Maybe next year, when it’s officially released? I’m surprised at how good it is. Once they polish the curve, and take a bit of the grind away, i’m gonna spend a very long time with it.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Ben King says:

    I love watching and listening to YouTube runs of devil daggers but I know myself well enough to say that I will probably never enjoy it myself- I missed the quake and UT hayday and while I love the look and sound I will never ever have those sweet sweet jumpy-strafe-murder skills. Damn jealous of Alice getting to experience the basement gig with the devil daggers projector show. As a consolation prize for Pip she did FINALLY get me on board with Subnautica. I bought that one this AM and will be installing it to binge on after returning from family holiday travels.

    • aoanla says:

      To be fair, I did grow up in the right era to play Doom and Quake etc, but I don’t have those jumpy-strafe-murder skills (at least, not any longer), and I still manage to get something out of Devil Daggers, just from the atmosphere and design (even if I’ve been lucky to last more than a minute or so in game…)

  15. Eight Rooks says:

    Put me down for another “Not a game I’m really interested in playing, but it’s an interesting pick, at least, and I can understand how people might love it” (unlike Far Cry 3, say. Eww). I’m too old and my reflexes are too shot and I think there are more interesting ways you can advance score attack gaming than ABSOLUTE PURITY, WORSHIP AT MY DARK ALTAR etc. – it still saddens me that Cave’s iOS ports were collectively a failure, for example, because I’d rate them as works of genius in large part because they actively tried to get everybody playing a niche genre, whereas DD just seems much more like the acceptable, cuddly face of GIT GUD SCRUB. I want score attack where I can easily see an ending and ‘beat’ the game, then crank the difficulty up and play the entire thing over and over, not where the first ten seconds is the bit that’s supposed to ease me in. But anyway. Can totally see why others with the patience and the appetite for raw zen gaming would adore it, I applaud the lo-fi aesthetic, and it’s really great to see a less-than-obvious choice snatch the number one spot, honest. Merry Horacemas.

  16. HeavyStorm says:

    I’ve just skipped the article and comments for, upon seeing the title, I had to comment:

    I installed DD (after getting it on a bundle) and played for a few minutes. I then came back to it a day later and played a few minutes more. I watched a few top runs to get tips, then played again. And then stopped and uninstalled the next day.

    It was fun, but I found no special reason for playing it more than those few moments. I expected the game to remind me of the best moments of Serious Sam, and I wasn’t disappointed. However, it completely failed to capture me with anything more than a feeling that I’d gave to work a lot with it to get good.

    So, now I’m surprised. Many times I disagree with the best of the year, because I believe something is better, but this is the first time it’s a game that I didn’t even like. Maybe it’s me, but I really don’t think that DD deserved this title.

    Now I’ll go back, read the article and the comments and see if maybe I change my mind.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      After reading the article I stand by my opinion, bad, bad choice. Then I read the comments and realize a lot of people agreed that the game deserved the title. So congrats, both for the game and for RPS to “uncover” a gem.

      Still, reading all of it made me not even a little more interested in retry the game. It failed to capture and that’s it.

  17. MakeSkyrimGreen says:

    Ah if only it was allied to an exploration mode where you could use the level geometry to funnel the enemy flow and find new areas. I get the idea but like others it holds little interest for me as score attack games don’t interest me. Perhaps it should be an arcade game Insert Coin to continue. Glad those that enjoy it do so however.

  18. caff says:

    As ambivalent as I am about this being RPS choice of 2016, I do recognise that Devil Daggers has re-ignited that old-skool 80’s and 90’s hardcore arcade feel of game that we probably need to see more of.

    I’m slightly gutted that Virginia and Oxenfree got overlooked, but I won’t hold it against you RPS because you gave them such lovely reviews that led me to them in the first place.

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      Virginia, Oxenfree and Orwell all deserved a spot at the table, so it’s a shame space was given to a VR paintbrush program instead.

      • Premium User Badge

        John Walker says:

        I’ll boldly assume you’ve not played with this “VR paintbrush program” in order that you can feel so confident as to dismiss it.

  19. Muzman says:

    Interesting choice. I’d probably like this game, but like an endurance race in Trackmania, knowing you are just stacking up an increasingly high pile of skillful maneuvers to get ‘further’ is wearing. The thrill of that high wire act doesn’t hold me anymore. Then the fact that’s essentially all there is to it means there’s no reason to load it.

    Can’t be helped I suppose. I love the aesthetic though. It’s something that I have to remind myself actually doesn’t have a soundtrack. It’s all effects, making some nighmarish hellscape like a Necroscope book cover come to life.

    I’d love to see that atmosphere exploited in other ways. I was thinking of a version of the game where you are defenseless and wander an infinite plane of hell trying to go unnoticed by the demons swirling around in the blackness. I dont know exactly how that would work. Maybe they’re blind and will kill each other if you kite them into one another. Something more slow paced and spacially motivated anyway.

  20. Kasjer says:

    For me it is too trimmed to be enjoyable. I’m not a high-score junkie – I like to play games to get better at them, but I found DD lacking on content. The same thing I’ve felt about brilliant, but short lived Luftrausers. I love hardcore fps games – Quake (first one) is my favourite singl player game ever and frantically fast Quakeworld is my favourite MP shooter ever. Thing is, I like Quake for many things. The atmosphere, top-notch level geometry, enemies that are fun to combat, guns that are fun to shoot, movement in QW that is easy to learn but hard to master (after all these years I still do not make the jump to RA on Aerowalk in every attempt), timing pickups, blocking pathways with grenades, keeping enemy up in the air with LG… truth is I can play Q or QW for hours (even with bots) but I get bored with DD very quickly.

    The only weapon is boring and feels like airsoft gun, the level is just flat arena, I find the movement to be sluggish and there is nothing to keep me interested to play again. Art direction is good but still, it’s nothing that caught my heart. I keep coming back to games like Nuclear Throne and Binding of Isaac not because of hi-scores but because of variety and the fact no playthrough is the same.

    For me, it’s nu-Doom that delivered everything I’m looking for in sp shooters this year – the speed, the fun of movement, great level design, carefully tweaked combat, satysfying guns, enemies that are fun to fight with, meaty campaign… Devil Daggers is a game I’ve bought because of RPS recommendation and the game I’ve tried many times to “get”. It just doesn’t tick with me.

  21. April March says:

    I feel like John – a brilliant game I am utterly rubbish at. Not only I am rubbish at it, but I feel a bit terrified of it? I think it gives me the kind of thrill most people get from proper spoopy games.

  22. Viral Frog says:

    Glad to see the GOTY wasn’t something I would have expected. That said, I’m still wondering how anyone managed to get more than 2 hours out of this game. I sure enjoyed those two hours, but I just couldn’t see myself getting more enjoyment from the game past that point.