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  1. #1

    [NSW] Devil Engine

    I wasn't aware of this title, I saw a couple of videos and thought "cool!" and downloaded it right away.
    Devil Engine is an horizontal scrolling shoot'em'up that takes a lot of inspiration from other classic and not-so-classic shooters: it's easy to see influences of R-Type (all of them...well, maybe not Leo), Darius, and even Last Hope (something I would urge everyone to stay away from, but I've never played Pink Bullets).
    A brief tour of the options screen unveiled a lot of options, including the ability to set the analog stick's dead zone, show hitboxes, dim backgrounds, txt colour and so on. A lot of stuff is locked at firs, and the more you play, the more you unlock: visual filters (scanlines, "handheld port"), bullet colour, extra continues, additional game modes, and difficulty levels.

    At first only arcade mode is available, and only playable in "very hard". The second difficulty mode, "very easy" is unlocked after the first game over. I must say that neither of these modes plays as its name: very easy is not all that easy but it's definitely easier than very hard, which can very well be normal mode because right now there's no harder mode to compare it with. And in both modes bosses go down rather easily if you spam the laser bomb.
    Anyway, your ship has a three speed settings you can change at the push of a button, starts with a standard spread fire and by collecting powerups you can improve firepower or switch weapon between laser and homing. The bomb changes based on the weapon equipped and does not clear the screen from bullets or enemies, it's just a brief increase of firepower. There's a multiplier system that goes up as you defeat enemies and goes down when you don't. Bombing doesn't reset the multiplier but bursting does. Bursting allows to absorb nearby bullets, and with enough bullets the multiplier will be restored a bit. Bursting is also used to change powerup type, which is a questionnable mechanic, but for me the laser was good for the vast majority of occasions, with the spread being useful only in a couple of instances; I didn't particularly appreciate the homing as it goes all over the place.
    Bombs come in quickly, every 5000 points, and you can spam them to kill bosses easily. I've only begun playing and I'm not paying much attention to recap screens after a stage, so I'm not entirely sure how bombing affects your score.

    Stages are somwhat long, and you might have a lot of deja vus while playing: stage two seems straight out of Gallop. Stage structure is good, although there are few cheap shots: some new threats aren't properly introduced, for example one backdrop element in stage three seems only cosmetic at first but it's actually live and starts attacking right in the middle of an enemy wave with fast bullets that might be masked by other enemies or even your ship. Later in the stage off-screen attacks are only marked by a sound effect, which might pose a disadvantage if you don't have speakers or headphones.
    I'm still not entirely sure about the bursting mechanic, it feels it's a last resort defence and nothing more, while it could have been tied tighter to the scoring mechanic, like still resetting the multiplier but granting more points per bullet absorbed; not having powerup selection dependent on bursting would have also been great, I can see the developers tried to design stages around the available weapons, but instead I've ended up avoid all powerups once I got the laser fully powered up, knowing that persevering during stages with that weapon would make bosses go down...well, a bit too easier even in the so-called "very hard" mode.
    Not a fan of spamming bombs to annihilate bosses but you can skip several of their stages by doing that.

    Graphics are cool, clearly inspired by '80s anime and 16-bit shooters, although level of detail doesn't quite reach any Megadrive or SNES title; I'd say that even some PCE titles look more elaborate than Devil Engine. Music is awesome, a perfect fit for all stages. The game controls well with an arcade stick and if you play with a normal pad all actions have alternate buttons and everything can be reconfigured in the options menu.

    Devil Engine looks like a competent shooter, but probably the videos I seen before buying it got me a bit over-hyped. Maybe I was expecting Gates Of Thunder, instead I got a slower-paced shooter with heavy influences from several other games. It's not bad, it's just that I was expecting something different. But right now I'm not disappointed in having bought it.

  2. #2
    Thanks for the thoughts. I've seen lots of videos and commentary pushing the merits of this pretty hard too, so it's good to hear something a bit more measured. There's a list of indies on the Switch I'm yet to get to, and this helps prioritise a lot.

  3. #3
    Played some more.
    Bursting, which is useless in the first stages, becomes vital from the second part of level 3 onwards, and from level 4 you need to know when to burst and have a feeling for its cooldown time. As bullets come more frequently the multiplier doesn't completely reset a lot of times.

    Level design gets shallower as you play, level 1 has a "piloted" part that reminds of some Gradius levels, and so does level 3, but it's not as complex or long as level 1. The rest of stages I've seen don't have walls and are simple "shooting galleries", and while enemy patterns are inventive, this also means that speed switching isn't particularly fact I was getting accostumed in dropping down to the slowest acceleration in the piloted part of level one, but instead I've ended up simply getting use of quickly taps to line up as many enemies as I could.

    I started to feel that spread and homing weapons are severly underpowered against a lot of standard enemies, especially in level 2 and four where you face several waves of enemies that just fly straight at you and other that sit on the ground acting as bullet fountains. The laser is, I feel, the only weapon strong enough to defeat these enemies, and even at the second speed level (of 3) you can comfortably sweep the screen up and down, bursting in tight spots.

    A couple of times I was killed by something I thought was offscreen: I pulled all the way back and something hit me. A few splits of a second before there was an enemy there, and I saw it exit the screen, so I thought it was OK for me to be there, but instead probably the enemy's last pixel stuck my ship's hitbox at the every edge of the screen, or the enemy launched a last bullet before being registered as out of the playing area which got me as I was approaching the border of the screen.
    All other deaths were fair, but this two occasions really stood out for me.

    While I recognize the qualities in Devil Engine, I'm finding hard to play the game. Probably playing it in the evening after 9 hours of office doesn't help, but I can't get the game to click with me. Maybe it'll have better luck during the upcoming long weekend.

  4. #4
    I just picked this up this evening.

    I'm a massive shoot em up fan, but I played it for a couple of hours and it hasn't really clicked so far.

    It feels a bit cheap, maybe a bit too random. Lots of clumps of very fast moving bullets coming from multiple directions that I don't really feel I have sufficient time to react to.

    There are parts I like. The first level boss was quite good fun. I think the first stage in general was better than the second stage. I've only played the third stage briefly so far.

    The graphics aren't bad, though they sometimes feel a little dull and lacking in colour.

    I'll give it a little more time, see if I'm missing something. Noticing things that feel a bit wrong with this has given me a new appreciation of the better games in the genre!

    Nice to see someone creating a hori, but for 17.99 and given some of the positive review/comments I've seen online, I think I expected something a bit better.
    Last edited by ZipZap; 21-03-2019 at 11:38 PM.


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