In 2016's Devil Daggers, you have one goal: live as long as you possibly can. Surviving, however, is difficult when you have a legion of flesh-hungry eldritch monstrosities tracing your every step. However, you are, quite literally, armed, with your hand able to shoot out a stream of piercing daggers that appear to be made from your blood in a machine gun-like stream or shotgun-like burst. There's no story, minimal HUD, and no tutorial — the only thing that will keep you alive is your own skills and ingenuity — and even then, that will only get you so far until the monsters overwhelm you.
Devil Daggers is available on Steam here for about $5, developed by one of the members of HITBOX Team, known for their work on Dustforce. It is an arena shooter that is built for multiple repeated playthroughs and is a send-up to classic 90's shooters like Quake and Doom. The game also boasts a minimalist design — very little is directly communicated through the player through words, leading the player to figure out how to do everything on their own and what anything in the game actually means. A fansite can be found here where players can view leaderboards, a bestiary of the game's enemies, and share community made spawnsets of the game.
Devil Daggers provides examples of:
- Artificial Brilliance: The monsters are downright devious in their ability to track you, and the spiders are good at timing your shots to block them.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies:
- The Centipede enemies and their high-level variants are massive in size.
- One of the "boss" type enemies is giant spider Mook Maker that sucks in crystals to power itself up. While not too strong, it's capable of defending against your shots making it tough to take down if you get overwhelmed.
- Body Horror: Whatever happened to your hand to allow it to shoot daggers really messed it up- it appears to be causing your blood to boil and your flesh to melt away. Each enemy type has a unique "slain by" message on the scoreboard that implies this — decapitated and eviscerated are the most pleasant deaths.
- Dem Bones: Exaggerated. The first few enemies are just floating skulls, but later a ginormous spider with a skull for a body spawns.
- Degraded Boss: Multiple spiders spawn at the same time later in the game.
- Early Game Hell: While never easy, per say, waves become easier to deal with when you level up as your increased damage allows your to kill spawners and clear hordes of chaser skulls quicker. To balance this, stuff spawns faster and the arena gradually gets smaller.
- Final Boss: At approximately 350 seconds, The Leviathan spawns. It isn't pretty looking, that's for certain, though the game continues after it is defeated.
- Flechette Storm: The player can fire a concentrated barrage of daggers or in a shotgun-like burst. If the player makes it far enough, they can also fire off homing daggers as well.
- Game Mod: Fans were able modify how the game spawns mobs, and with that created their own spawnsets and manipulate how the arena shrinks (if at all). A training ground spawnset was also made for new players to familiarize themselves with the game's mechanics without worrying about a swarm of skeletal monsters breathing down their necks.
- Genre Throwback: The game is a huge throwback to 1990's first-person shooters and borrows some meta-gameplay elements from the genre such bunny hopping and rocket (or rather, shotgun dagger) jumping, and to top-down arcade shooters with gameplay inspired by games like Geometry Wars and Robotron 2084 but in a first-person perspective.
- Gorn: By the time you're done, the floor will be coated in blood.
- Jump Physics: Bunnyhopping allows you to gain a burst of speed and outmaneuver foes, while shooting a shotgun blast at the floor and jumping allows you to soar above enemies. Both of these are risky, however, as they can lead to your demise easily, by sprinting straight into a swarm or soaring into an enemy that has adjusted its flight path to cut you off.
- Ludicrous Gibs: As part of the 90's shooter send-up.
- Meta Multiplayer: The game features leaderboards for players to compete with others on who can survive the onslaught of eldritch horrors.
- Minimalism: Everything from the graphics to the menus have little in the way of explanation or elaboration, one might not even know what the crystals dropped from enemies do (which is power you up and cause you to shoot more daggers faster) until they collect enough of them.
- Nintendo Hard: The game is frankly brutal due to the constant swarming of enemies; if you want to make it into a silver-ranking time, you have to constantly be on your toes. This is to say nothing of gold ranking times, and getting to Red time is extremely difficult.
- One-Hit-Point Wonder: The protagonist dies instantly if they are hit by an enemy.
- Retraux: As mentioned above, the game is a throwback to 90's first-person shooters, particularly the original Quake. The display is pixelated as if it were running in a low resolution, there's a fixed colour palette that limits light shading, and the enemies and the player's hand are low polygon models.
- Rule of Cool: Why does killing a score shoot out blood? Why does shooting the floor with a shotgun blast cause you to rocket jump? Hell, why are your bullets daggers? This trope is why.
- Super Mode: After collecting enough crystals you "level-up"- your daggers become bigger and deal more damage, they shoot faster, and the shotgun blast cools down quicker along with having a bigger spread. During the initial transition period, time slows down, allowing you to adjust to the sudden increase in power. Eventually you get the ability to shoot Homing Daggers by pressing right-click which makes clearing hordes even easier.
- Zerg Rush: The basic skull enemy is perhaps the most common enemy type in the entire game, but individually they're easy to dodge. Unfortunately for you, they always spawn in packs of at least ten, and it's easy to get overwhelmed if you let them build up multiple swarms.