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Dark Devotion

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Dark Devotion Game Poster Image
Gory, challenging side-scrolling tale with mature themes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The murky narrative touches on ideas to do with faith, duty, and morality that are part of the dogma of a fictional religion. Some players may make connections with real-world religions.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The player's Templar knight -- a woman -- seems compelled to carry out the will of her god as she understands it. Her mission involves plenty of gory violence, which she appears to take in stride.

Ease of Play

This is a very challenging game with no option to alter difficulty. The controls are intuitive and tight, but players need to learn precise enemy timing and patterns, while developing strategies in order to win. Expect to fail and restart at checkpoints often.

Violence

Players use swords, whips, bows, magic, and other medieval and fantasy weaponry to defeat evil monsters. Red blood gushes with successful hits, with some enemies eviscerated and dismembered. The action is presented in a retro, pixelated style that prevents much detail, but the blood and gore is plainly obvious.

Sex

A female boss seems to be naked from her midsection up, though the pixelated graphics make it difficult to say for sure. Words with sexual connotations -- such as "virgin" and "adultery" -- appear in text.

Language

Words including "Hell," "damn," and "s--t" appear infrequently in text dialogue.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dark Devotion is a downloadable side-scrolling action role-playing game (RPG) for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The game has a surprising amount of gory violence. The main character is a Templar knight devoted to a fictional religion and its ancient traditions, following quests that lead her to fight ancient and evil creatures. Though the action is presented in a retro, pixelated style that prevents graphic detail, it's easy to tell when an enemy's bleeding, eviscerated, or dismembered as the player carries out attacks using a mix of medieval weapons and magical spells. Parents should also be aware that one of the game's female bosses appears naked from the belly up, showing bare breasts, and that occasional instances of mild profanity appear in the dialogue. Know, too, that this is a very difficult game meant for patient players who don't mind frequently respawning at checkpoints after suffering defeat in combat.

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What's it about?

DARK DEVOTION is an atmospheric side-scrolling RPG (role-playing game) that puts players in control of a Templar knight devoted to serving her god and waging war against evil monsters in an ancient dungeon. Its vague and moody story gives players just enough information to understand what they need to do -- kill a certain number of monsters, find a specific boss -- to resolve one quest before moving on to the next. Dungeon exploration involves navigating dark rooms filled with traps, moving platforms, switches, and secret rooms. The knight can't jump, but she can attack, block, and roll around to dodge enemies and deadly obstacles. As she delves deeper into the dungeon, she finds useful items, including a wide variety of armor and weapons. Each of these objects comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, as well as single-use potions, spells, and tools, such as explosives that can destroy certain types of walls. Also present are non-player characters who provide advice and tell stories that may contain useful bits of information that will aid in her quest of devotion and search for answers concerning her faith.

Is it any good?

If you've ever wondered what would happen if a game maker combined an old-school Castlevania game with Dark Souls, you'll get your answer here. Dark Devotion's combat and atmosphere both clearly take a page from From Software's Souls games. Most encounters -- even those against minions that would be sword fodder in other games -- are challenging, with players forced to master blocking, attacking, and dodging mechanics as well as become deeply familiar with the precise tells and timing of enemy attacks. Players are meant not just to see the action but also to feel it as their knight gets pushed back by enemy blows and grunts with both exertion and pain. And as they explore the labyrinthine dungeon, slowly eking out its secrets and mysteries one peril-filled room at a time, they'll begin to get a sense of how everything's connected. They'll also learn how to navigate this ancient yet complex structure not just by movement, but also through portals, switches, and use of items.

Dark Devotion's emulation of the Souls experience is compelling, but the question is whether Souls fans will key to elements drawn from Castlevania. The retro art style is undeniably alluring, and the designers have done a wonderful job creating a multi-faceted two-dimensional combat system that allows players to use hundreds of pieces of gear, weapons, and items to discover and develop their own tactics. But the slow character growth, while fitting for a Souls game, feels a bit out of sync with the rest of the experience. Some players may find themselves waiting for game-changing skills -- like, say, the ability to jump -- that simply don't materialize. Dark Devotion is a bold, clever, and entertaining melding of seemingly disparate types of action and role-playing games, but it's not without its quirks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in the media. Is the impact of the violence in Dark Devotion affected by the retro pixelated visuals? Is the suggestion of a violent act enough to make our minds conjure up a more detailed -- and potentially more disturbing -- image?

  • At what point should you begin to question authorities claiming to provide moral guidance? Is there a moment where blindly following rules is useful? Where does this possibly stray into dangerous territory?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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