As a rule we try to avoid crass and direct comparisons of a game under review to similar titles. But when it comes to Handy Games’ new action slash-‘em-up, Devils and Demons, we’d be failing in our journalistic gaming duties if we didn’t offer up a quick, one-line summary for Diablo fans. Here we go:
If you loved the classic PC hack ’n’ slash RPG Diablo (and Diablo II, in particular), Devils and Demons was made for you.
Okay, onto the proper review now we’ve cleared out those slavering, blood-hungry Diablo-nauts (I’ll see you at the club later on, fellas). The dark fantasy genre has been going through a bit of a lull lately, replaced somewhat by our current (re)fascination with zombie lore.
But Devils and Demons is here to remind us all of the power and beauty of classical, Howard-esque sword and sorcery gaming. The premise is typically simple, with a clean and clear divide between good and evil to provide the battleground of the gameworld.
But despite the apparently superficial genesis of Devils and Demons’ concept, its depth comes from far more important factors than a far reaching backstory: characters and gameplay. You’re given the option between three different kinds of warrior mage (Earthquaker, Child of the Sun and Windcaller) to take into battle and quell the demonic uprising, and while each is as capable as the others, they do represent suitably different types of fighter.
Each level has its own loose objective, such as defending a specific location from a horde of invading monsters, taking out a particular legion of Hell’s army, or getting your character safely across a demon-ridden landscape alive. But no matter what the level’s ultimate requirements, there’s a constant stream of evil minions to thwart along the way.
The RPG elements of this dark fantasy hack ’n’ slash are very prevalent, with a full (though thankfully basic) skill tree and levelling system to help you shape and evolve your character. These include powering up your magic abilities and combat skills, with experience points being awarded for taking out the demonic trash.
Graphically Devils and Demons is a pretty standard, free-roaming isometric playing field, though it’s beautifully painted and packed with small details, with very little noticeable repetition in the Hell-torn environments. Subtle features, such as devilish alters for you to desecrate on your journey, really make the environments worth exploring – rather than just hacking your way through as quickly as possible – and visibly evolve as you fight your way toward the source of the invasion.
Epic questing can take up a lot of your time (particularly as you’re drawn into the exploration of this rich landscape), so Handy Games has thrown in an Arena mode for good measure. This is a simple case of surviving as long as possible, but it’s a great way to pass a few hack ’n’ slash minutes and still awards your achievements with unlockable characters and items.
Devils and Demons could definitely use a bit of editing in terms of its English translation, but that’s a pretty minor complaint in the face of such epic and accessible gameplay. It’s a game for the hack ’n’ slash fan more than the role player or the adventurer, to be sure, but there’s a lot to offer stalwarts of all genres thanks to the excellent quality of the game’s fighting mechanics and progressive nature.
So if you’re looking for high adventure and plenty of demonic bloodshed, Devils and Demons will give your mobile the teeth to bite through wave after wave of devil flesh, and will magically obliterate hours from your life in the process.