Hell has become one of those go-to levels for game design, being as exciting as the snow or desert area. There’s always some fire, brimstone, lava and possibly a pointy-horned demon cackling at the damned, with artists and designers very rarely straying from the same design of Hell which has been popular since doom paintings from Norman churches. Doom added some metal to the infernal mix and gave the demons some robot arms but the kingdom of the diabolical still stuck to the tried and true depiction of Lucifer’s domain. Devil Daggers keeps the twitch shooting of something like Doom or Quake but throws away the boiling pits of acid and goes much darker, with torrents of demons spilling over you as you shoot them away with blasts of blood and bone. The hellscape of Devil Daggers is an endless gauntlet of skulls and eldritch horrors, where success is fleeting yet tantalising, as the world leaderboard of fellow damned souls constantly reminds you that you can go that little bit further. Hell is other people in Devil Daggers and all of them are vying to beat your score by whatever means necessary.
The only thing you do in Devil Daggers is survive. Upon picking up the aforementioned blade, you are thrust into a blank arena where demonic spires and demons start to attack you from all sides. Using the powers of the Dagger, you can shoot a shotgun blast of bloody fragments if you click the left mouse button once or you can fire a steady stream of viscera if you hold the button down. Besides that and eventually unlocking a homing shot once you have collected 70 glowing gems, which drop from certain demons, that’s everything you can do in Devil Daggers. The movement is similar to a shooter from the 90s, with you strafing and jumping past clouds of skeletal horrors at high speed, as you desperately try to clear that spire before the giant screaming spider pops out and starts spewing acid everywhere. Once you get hit once, your run is over and you start the gauntlet of grotesquery again. When you first start Devil Daggers, you’ll probably last 15 seconds. After about 30 tries, you may get up to 30 seconds before a new demon comes out of the shadows and sideswipes you. You may eventually do that one minute long run and feel amazing then go back to never getting past 40 seconds. Devil Daggers is a grind, a slow process of mastering each wave of monsters before eventually pushing onto the next whirlwind of pain and then mastering that. Every enemy spawns on a timer and you are always in the same circular arena so you can memorise the position and timings of waves but you get overwhelmed that quickly that if you aren’t on the ball, it becomes impossible to quell the storm. It is not an easy game, nor is it one that will support you in your endeavours past the occasional ‘New High Score!’ pop up in the top left. You are here to suffer and die until you can push past the next obstacle.