This review of Devour was conducted using a code given to us by the game’s PR agency. This is explained for the purposes of transparency and does not affect our judgement of the game.
I love myself a good horror experience. Be it a video game or horror movie, I just love a good scare. And anyone who has listened to our podcast (on our site, or elsewhere) will know of my love for Alien Isolation. Recently, I’ve been struggling to find a good horror game. While I wait for Resident Evil Village and ponder whether or not to buy Phasmobphobia I needed my fix. And then I got the email, offering me the chance to review Devour. A multiplayer, co-op survival horror set against the backdrop of a crazed cult leader. We were given four codes, enough to fully experience the game as meant. And off we went.
The story of Devour is fairly simple. The players play as ex-cult members, on a mission to stop their crazed cult leader; Anna Puerta. Anna has become possessed by the goat demon Azazel after a ritual went wrong. Players must burn ritual goats in an attempt to break the demon’s hold over Anna. Nope. You aren’t reading that wrong. You burn goats. Anna and her legion of demons will, of course, try to stop you. Every goat burned angers Azazel, and in turn, makes Anna faster and harder to evade. She also becomes harder to calm, meaning she is harder to escape when you encounter her.
In terms of the ending to the story, well there seem to be only two endings. Either you stop Anna, or you don’t. In all of our playthroughs, we were unable to stop Anna. We got very close, 7/10 goats burned. Overall though, in terms of story, I can’t see a whole of replayability in Devour. Much of the story is told via journal entries you find, but all in all the story is forgettable.
As mentioned above, the entirety of Devour’s gameplay revolves around the burning of goats. However, it isn’t as simple as this. Firstly, you are given no real instructions as to how you burn said goats. It took us a while to figure out that we needed to use hay to attract them, and then grab them. You then put them in the strange bowl, add gasoline and the fire is started. But it goes out after each goat is burned. And for some reason, your group of characters let out a round of “whoops” and, quite frankly maniacal laughter. At the burning of a goat. It’s all very strange. Then you rinse and repeat.
After every goat, Anna becomes enraged. She grows faster each time, making her harder and harder to outrun. She goes from a 28 Days Later zombie when angry, to Usain Bolt. No joke. It is possible to calm her though, thanks to a UV flashlight each character has. It functions as a normal flashlight, but by pressing the right mouse button you activate the UV. This has a meter in the top right of the screen. You must wait for the UV to replenish and boy does it take a while, so use it sparingly. Calming Anna allows you to run away, but here you encounter the second issue; demons.
The demons in Devour are strange. They crawl along the floor and attempt to bite your ankles almost. It’s easy to pay them almost no attention, as they are also very slow. You kill the demons with the UV also, which makes things complicated if you become trapped by Anna and demons. Much like with zombies, the demons on their own aren’t an issue. But as the game progresses, more seem to spawn. And in numbers, they pose an issue. In fact, the majority of times we went down to demons rather than Anna. Late game, they are numerous. And everywhere. And become somehow much harder to see.
The Light, It Burns!
When Anna is enraged she will grab someone, and run off with them to a random location. This player becomes downed and sees the world in black and white. Luckily they can see where the medkits are, so they can be healed and get back into the action. But should all players become downed, then you lose. It’s also worth noting that while downed, should a player shine their flashlight even remotely in your direction you will be blinded. And I don’t mean like I kind of can’t see. I mean like full-on blinding white light, must look away from the screen.
The house you play in compromises of rooms, many of which are locked. The keys to these rooms lay scattered around the house. The game has no map function, and so memorising the house is extremely helpful. We were talking over Discord, but the game does feature in-game directional chat. This means that the game can be played with random people, and you can use push-to-talk to communicate. There are also gestures in the game such as “yes”, “no”, and “over here”. The words and tone of each gesture change from character to character. And honestly, we spent more time laughing at these than we did actually using them. There’s something hilarious about seeing Anna standing in the hallway, and Molly in her Southern USA accent saying “nuh-uh!”.
The gameplay itself doesn’t vary much from playthrough to playthrough. Key locations and such are randomised, but honestly, once you have the formula down not much changes. Anna is capable of opening doors, something I learnt the hard way. She also has an extremely long reach. There were many times when myself, and friends, were grabbed by Anna even though she was seemingly 10 foot away. There isn’t a real rhyme or reason as to how she can get you, you just hope that she doesn’t.
Audio & Visuals
Honestly, this is where Devour lacks quite a bit. To me, a good horror game can get away with having a lacklustre story if the ambience is tense. If I feel scared. But I didn’t. Devour got me with a few good jump scares, mainly due to the fact I thought Anna couldn’t get me. But apparently, she’s Stretch Armstrong. The environment is very meh, and not overly spooky. There is no ambience, be it visual or audible. It looks like a game should look when it costs £3.99. But it lacks that atmosphere that could’ve made it really pop. And that could’ve saved the game.
As harsh as this may be, Devour may be one of the worst games I have ever played. It fails in almost every essence of being a game. It lacks a solid story, as well as the general tense ambience of a horror game. Much of this could be forgotten if the gameplay were not so tedious, and in all honesty repetitive. No area of Devour props up the other, meaning that the game overall just falls flat. For £4 it’s worth a laugh with friends, but honestly, I wouldn’t say you are missing out by not playing this game. It’s worth noting that this is a full launch, and not an Early Access game.