A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
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
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
Very challenging game with no option to alter difficulty. Controls are intuitive and tight, but players need to learn precise enemy timing and patterns while developing strategies to win. Expect to fail and restart at checkpoints often.
Violence & Scariness
Players use swords, whips, bows, magic, other medieval and fantasy weaponry to defeat evil monsters. Red blood gushes with successful hits, with some enemies eviscerated, dismembered. Action is presented in a retro, pixelated style that prevents much detail, but blood and gore is plainly obvious.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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Words including "hell," "damn," and "s--t" appear infrequently in text dialogue.
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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.
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 FromSoftware'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 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 multifaceted 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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.