What is Devil's Daggers?
My heartbeat is racing and my entire body is tense. I can’t hear anything around me. All of my focus is on my monitor. All of my brain energy is being used to move around flying skulls. I dodge and dart between skulls and other demonic beings. My hands are sweaty and the muscles in them are tight. My house could be on fire and I wouldn’t even notice. It feels like I’ve been dodging demons for an hour. Suddenly I hear a devilish yell and my screen turns red. A skull caught up to me and killed me. I look at the timer, keeping track of how long my last run was. 50 seconds. It felt like an hour had passed. Nope. It was less than a minute. I take a deep breath and click replay.
This is Devil’s Daggers.
A small and amazing game that I will never beat, assuming it's possible to beat it.
Devil’s Daggers came out of nowhere. The first time I saw it was on Twitter. People were sharing a video of the highest score. It immediately caught my attention. It looked like a shooter from the 90’s set in Hell. But unlike Doom, a shooter from the 90’s set in Hell and on Mars, this shooter seemed focused on making everything feel uncomfortable and evil. Everything in Devil's Daggers is confusing or disturbing. Enemies include skulls, giant demon bugs, faces and more. You shoot glowing knives from your hand and everything makes groans and screaming noises. Constantly. Devil's Daggers truly feels, sounds and looks like horrific nightmare filled Hell dimension.
And what do you in this dimension? Move fast and shoot shit.
That is what you do in Devil's Daggers, move around and dodge enemies while shooting. You can shoot a machinegun like amount of daggers by holding the mouse button or you can tap the button and fire a shotgun blast of daggers. The movement and shooting feeling superb. I always felt in control. After only a few minutes I was moving around at a breakneck speed, blasting skulls with no problem.
The only issue I ran into while playing Devil's Daggers was some hitboxes not feeling right. The bigger horned skulls would sometimes absorb shots without reacting. And when this happened it always took more time to kill them, so I assume the shots weren't registering. It didn't happen often enough to ruin Devil's Daggers, but it did ruin a few good runs.
After playing for an hour, I needed a break. Not just because my brain and body were drained, but because I wanted to get out of the bleak and hellish world of Devil’s Daggers. A world that is only a small stone platform floating in the void of Hell. You are always surrounded by darkness and demons. The only objective in Devil's Daggers is to survive as long as you can. Each second that passes the challenge of avoiding enemies becomes harder and harder. You will die. A lot. There is no hope of escape.
Or maybe there is an escape. If there is, I haven’t reached it yet. Checking the leaderboards, it seems no one else has either. That is one of the smartest features in Devil’s Daggers, the ability to click on any score on the leaderboard and watch their replay,instantly. It allows anyone to see things they might never see. Like, what does Devil’s Daggers look like if you survive for seven minutes. The answer is: hypnotically nightmarish.
There is more to Devil’s Daggers than shooting demons and running. You can collect jewels. I’m not sure what they do but they are something you can collect. It seems that if you collect enough you get a better hand that shoots more. The giant bugs seem to suck the jewels up. Maybe?
Devil’s Daggers does nothing to explain the story, the mechanics or even the basic controls. You have to figure everything out yourself. This approach can sometimes be a bad idea, but Devil’s Daggers is simple and small enough that you don’t feel like you need to check a wiki to play it. So the decision to not tell the player anything works really well. It also adds to the sense of confusion and mystery.
Everything feels obtuse, bizarre and evil. I would never want to live in the dark and twisted world of Devil’s Daggers. I don’t even want to play this game in VR. You need to be able to disconnect from Devil’s Daggers in an instant.
After playing Devil’s Daggers for two days or so my personal best is 63 seconds. I want to play more. I want to beat all of my friends. I want to make it for two minutes. Maybe even longer. It might take me a 100 or more tries, but I can’t wait to die over, over, over and over again in Hell.