Death of the Critic

The Backlog - Devil Daggers

Written by: Tom Blaich


I have a confession to make. Like many of you reading this, I have a list of games that I’ve been meaning play for years. I have way too many games on Steam, and a stack of cases sitting next to my TV. Close to five hundred games now. Maybe more. It makes me feel guilty. I haven’t touched 90% of them in one way or another. I need to fix that. So this week, I dug deep into my backlog and pulled out a game. I want to play all of them; I’ve just never had the chance. Now’s the time.

When I talk about games, the idea of complexity frequently comes up. The complexity of a game’s systems or story or characters often directly correlates to the level of quality that we assign to that game. As consumers, we want a game that we can sink our teeth into, pour dozens of hours of our time into as we get to know the characters and slowly master the systems. Then we can just leave it by the wayside while we find the next open world RPG to obsess over for a few months. It is why we love games like
Dark Souls, ARMA, Counter-Strike, and DOTA.

Devil Daggers is the opposite of this. It is a remarkably simple game, but in this simplicity, lies extreme difficulty. There isn’t much to discover here, or really any real story to speak up. You are on a circular arena. Demons are constantly swarming towards you. You can shoot daggers out of one of your hands. Survive for as long as you can.

It is almost elegant in how little setup is required. The tools that a new player has and the tools that a veteran player have are the exact same, and the only real difference between them is in how you choose to use them.


If you last over a minute, you are probably doing ok. Over two, and you are doing great. It’s a never-ending onslaught that only increases in difficulty over time, with bosses peppered throughout. As you play, you absorb crystals from the demons that you kill, and the more of them that you collect, the more daggers you can shoot.

These upgrades come naturally as you play, because to survive you must kill, and the more that you kill, the more crystals you invariably collect. The faster you shoot, the longer you can survive. It’s a steep upwards slope, but it gives you something concrete to aim towards.

It is a game that I found myself playing and quitting over and over again. Every time that you die, caught by a demon as you tried to run, you want to immediately try again, and the quick restart is snappy, reminding me of how easy it is to try another run in
Super Meat Boy. I never managed to get over two minutes into the game, but there is a part of me, even now, that wants to jump back in and keep playing until I do.



Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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