Coming out of Layopi Games and 1C Entertainment, Devil’s Hunt is a third-person action game based on Pawel Lesniak’s original novel “Equilibrium”, which takes a journey itself into an eternal struggle between light and dark, good and evil, angels and demons. Video games based off of novels can be done, and done quite well. Look no further than the Metro franchise, or The Witcher. Devil’s Hunt seems to have a lot of backstory to pull from and interesting moments from the novel where it originated.. but the development team never found the mark at all in the short amount of time you’ll be spending with the game.
Title: Devil’s Hunt
Publisher: 1C Entertainment
Developer: Layopi Games
Available On: PC
Reviewed On: PC
Release Date: September 17, 2019
Game Provided By 1C Entertainment for the Purpose of This Review
Players are put into the shoes of Desmond, the son of a rich businessman that has found himself involved in a string of bad luck. Gaining demonic powers and having to battle vicious creatures from the depths of hell, he struggles to find a place for himself in this ongoing war. Acting as both the destroyer and savior, Desmond battles with himself as his thirst for revenge grows stronger.
Devil’s Hunt provides zero decisions and zero dialogue options throughout the entire campaign. It’s like watching an interactive movie, if the movie is traditionally boring and a technical mess. You move from one area to the next, taking out any enemies that are thrown your way in scripted events. There is also little reason to return to the game after the first playthrough, if you can stomach it for even that long. Clocking in around 5 hours in length, it took me two sittings to go from the beginning to the end, and then I promptly uninstalled it after I was finished. As I said, there’s no multiplayer, and the single player campaign doesn’t offer anything new a second time around. It was also a bit surprising to see the game end on a cliffhanger of sorts, which clearly shows intent of the developers to continue this franchise in the future.
The animations and the way the combat mechanics are handled feel rough and very slow from the opening moments, with players having to reposition Desmond in many occasions to be able to overcome an obstacle or traverse the environment when a simple button press should have been all that was needed. You can see the prompt on the screen to climb up a wall or get onto some scaffolding, but when you press it, it might mysteriously disappear because you slightly moved and that’s all it takes to start building on the frustration. Little nuances like this exist throughout the short experience that is Devil’s Hunt, and the entire package just never fully comes together into one complete meal.
There is a skill tree to explore for those who truly want to get in-depth with the combat and differing playstyles. Three different classes are available to explore and dump skill points into. Executor will transform Desmond’s arm into a fiery demon fist, using brute force to kill enemies. Unholy allows players to regenerate health and use spectral weapons. Void allows Desmond to play around with souls, paralysis, and other Warlock type tricks. Besides the three different classes to choose from, there are basic attacks, dodge, block, and executions where Desmond runs in and obliterates the enemy.
Despite the appearance of choice, there really isn’t a ton of variation between the individual skill trees you can go down and no real strategy is needed between each type of enemy. Each enemy’s attack has an obvious signal, and each skill tree has only three combination of buttons to choose from. This reduces combat and every single encounter in the game to nothing more than a repetitive cycle of dodging and mashing buttons until the prompt appears on screen to execute the enemy.
Bosses, on the other hand, are quite fearsome foes with giant health points that will take a lot of damage in order to overcome. It’s very unbalanced how simplistic the entire game is, and then when a boss encounter begins, the difficulty of the game spikes up so much that it doesn’t even feel natural. Despite having the ability to block, it will only be activated when the game tells us we can activate it, so you’ll need to rely on your dodging skills in order to avoid most everything the bosses throw your way.
Graphically, Devil’s Hunt isn’t anything to write home about. Utilizing Unreal Engine definitely is a positive aspect, but the game almost feels as if it was lifted straight from the early days of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Particles, effects, backgrounds, and even character models don’t particularly stand out in 2019 where we have games releasing that look as beautiful as they do. I understand this isn’t a AAA game.. and I’d be hard pressed to classify it as AA since it’s more or less an independent outing, but there was still a lot of room for improvement in the graphics department.
Otherwise, the game is a technical mess. The camera never feels fluid and almost always seems out of place, frame rate drops plagued our playthrough on a moderately powerful PC, and the whole uneasiness of it all can really throw off your equilibrium (see what I did there.. I called back to the novel this game is based off of!) to stay centered. It’s almost as if Devil’s Hunt skated by or never even entered the quality assurance phase, because it’s so riddled with bugs and technical hiccups here and there that it needed some severe polishing before actually getting released.
The soundtrack is a bit of a mixed bag for me, and one that I was truly surprised about. Composed by Marcin Przybylowicz and Magdelena Urbanska, that first name should immediately jump out to anyone familiar with CD PROJEKT RED, as he has been working with them on their franchises, including The Witcher and next year’s Cyberpunk 2077, for the entire decade. That being said, the music found within Devil’s Hunt is very forgettable for the most part, with only a few of the tracks standing out amongst the rest of the pack. It’s very gothic and dark orchestral, as one would expect from a game about a war between Angels and Demons. But the fact that such an amazing composer is attached to this project, and the entire soundtrack from start to finish wasn’t phenomenal, was a little shocking to me.
In the modern video game industry, so many games have released that have done the formula attempted to be tackled by Devil’s Hunt in a much better way. Look at Devil May Cry. Look at Bayonetta. Look at Prototype. Hell, look at Dante’s Inferno. So many games have released and been really fun to play through while keeping gamers engaged and having strong gameplay mechanics and loops. None of that is found here with Devil’s Hunt. While there are small, very small, amounts of fun to be had, it quickly fades away within the first hour, leaving the remaining four hours to be a bore. I wouldn’t be surprised if many never see this game to completion based solely on that fact. If Layopi Games can indeed turn this into a franchise with multiple releases, it’s going to take some good faith from players in order to see that happen. Even with this game not releasing as a standard full price game, I just cannot recommend it at all in its current state with all of the issues that is currently plagued by.