Review copy provided by 1C Company. Reviewed on PC.
Devil’s Hunt is the first game by newly founded Polish game studio, Layopi Games, and is based on the novel, Equilibrium by Paweł Leśniak. However, this is not a Witcher-esque situation, where a game studio picked up an author’s work and made a game based on it, but it’s the author Leśniak himself who founded the studio after the book was published.
Anyways, the point is – a new studio made a game based on existing material. You play as Desmond, a regular type guy with a job and girlfriend. A series of unfortunate events leads to him dying, getting pulled into Hell, and then being sent back for revenge. The story revolves around Desmond traveling between hell, modern-day USA (around the Miami area where Desmond lived), and an ancient city. Along the way, Desmond meets some rather colorful characters, including Lucifer, Death, and Sawyer, who acts as the middle-man between Lucifer and Desmond. Desmond is driven by vengeance and Lucifer is willing to help him at a cost.
The plot mostly revolves around Desmond having to make the choice between being Saviour or Destroyer. There are some obvious Christian and Judaic references. However, a lot of that pertains to the gameplay, rather than being narrative focused. Honestly, the story is not bad, it’s just that the animations and voice acting is, to put it mildly, low-budget. A lot of the dialogues and cutscenes are either corny, cringy, or outright laughable. The animations, both in and out of combat are stiff, even though everything looks flashy.
At a glance, Devil’s Hunt looks both good and bad. It’s flashy and janky, and it shows all the time. In my 20+ hours with the game, I was constantly amazed by how good the game can look with its pretty particle effects and gorgeous environments, but at the same time, really dismayed by how bad the player animations look. And this is where it hurt the gameplay.
The Saviour vs Destroyer themes are mostly based on the kind of character build you want to go after. You can pick Demonic and Heavenly skills, and switch them up on the fly. This part is actually really neat and encourages experimentation. The problem is that the animations are so bad, that the moves, combos, and attacks which should have looked really cool, end up looking as if the main character, Desmond is fumbling around like an idiot.
Devil’s Hunt’s gameplay is a lot like the older Devil May Cry games or Dante’s Inferno. It’s a hack and slash game, with combos that build up a meter used to unleash special abilities. The finishers and particle effects can look incredibly impressive, but the combat overall feels janky. There’s an Arkham-style counter mechanic which gives you a prompt when an enemy is about a land a hit. But the character doesn’t automatically block the attack, instead, you need to be facing the enemy that you want to block. Which is really counter-intuitive, since multiple enemies will almost always have you surrounded. Also, the counter animation looks silly – the character does some strange hand waving motion and it looks like he blew air at the enemy.
I don’t really want to rag on the game too much since I understand that it’s a new studio and their first game. And I do promise here. Despite the jank, the combat looks flashy and the environments can be stunning. And there is a good variety, both in terms of the sights you see and the enemies you fight. Some of the lighting and particle effects look like they belong in a polished AAA game, and that is impressive for a small studio. And Layopi Games has said that Devil’s Hunt is the first game in a trilogy, and I really want to see what they do next.
By the end of Devil’s Hunt, I was left disappointed in the game, but really interested in the studio. I wouldn’t recommend Devil’s Hunt to anyone – the gameplay is not fun, the story is decent, but the acting and delivery is messy, and the performance is an issue. The game looks alright, but you can get that from a YouTube video, no need to spend money on this. However, I would recommend that you keep an eye on Layopi Games. With a bigger budget and more time, they have the potential to churn out something special.