Shoot-em-ups and sports games are probably the two genres that make up the smallest portion of my video game library. I enjoy the premise of shoot em ups, but I’m just not great at them.

I’m also not a huge fan of games that only mark your progress based on high scores. I like to see other things in games to incentivize the player. Now that I have had the chance to play Devil Engine, I know that there’s a shoot em up that can provide a good balance between solid gameplay, and meaningful progression.

Blast From the Future

Devil Engine is a 2D Shoot em up developed by Protoculture Games, and published by Dangen Entertainment.

You play as the last ship left, that can save earth from the Andraste. You must go through waves of enemies, and huge robots, to try and save planet earth.

The story isn’t overly important to this game, but it’s good to at least have a purpose to our mission.

Ready the Bullets

Devil Engine is played as a horizontal shoot em up. There are waves of enemies you will fight, until you reach a boss. It’s pretty obvious once you have reached a boss robot, because your screen will blink red with the word “Emergency”.

The smaller waves of robots will go down pretty easily, but the bosses can be pretty tough. Not to mention the bosses won’t simply shoot bullets at you. No, they each have their own unique mechanics, that make each boss fight very unique. One may spray you down with super fast missiles, another may shoot giant death lasers at you.

The level designs differ a bit from completely open horizontal screens, to more enclosed screens. It’s nice to see a differentiation in the gameplay, but I found the closed-in areas to be very frustrating. Dodging bullets is fun, but not when you also have to make sure you don’t slam into some platform. I think I would have preferred the changing environments more if they were all left completely open.

There are 2 levels of difficulty you can play. There’s a very hard mode, and a very easy mode. It’s great to have the choice between the two. Devil Engine in very hard mode is a pretty challenging shoot em up, but it’s a challenge worth taking.

Aim, Fire!

Throughout your mission to save earth, you will have the ability to use three different weapons. They will come towards you in the form of a coloured ball, when you defeat enemies.

The first one is red, which let’s you release a fury of missiles. This is great for damage, and the bigger swarms of enemies. The blue one is a completely vertical Lazer, that I really liked for bosses, and for waves of enemies that were lined together. The last one is green, which is a homing attack. This one worked really well for when there were multiple types of enemies onscreen. It would lock onto them, and make it a lot easier to dispatch them. Each weapon felt great, and each of them happily served their own purpose to your mission. Although I can understand how some may not enjoy the weapon system as much as I did.

One of the other abilities your ship has is an absorb function. By sacrificing whatever kill combo you have you can absorb incoming bullets. It has a small delay after every use, but is very useful for those critical moments. I do wish that the absorption did not have this delay, because it is a bit of a hindrance on the gameplay. There were a lot of deaths I could have avoided, had the delay not been a factor.

The last special function, and one of my favorites, was the ability to adjust your ship’s speed. You have the ability to choose how fast you want your ship to move.

There are 3 levels, with the first one being slowest and the third one allowing you to move pretty fast. I thought this was a great adjustment, because it really let’s players tailor Devil Engine’s experience to what they are comfortable with.

Devil Engine presents some fun gameplay, with some tight controls. I had a lot of fun with it, though I do have to acknowledge this may not be for everyone. It’s design choices, and weapon system may cause a divide between players. It’s also quite difficult, so casual players may find tough times ahead.

Extras

Devil Engine offers a plethora of extras to keep players going. Besides the 6 levels in arcade mode, there are also numerous challenges to play.

Challenges come in many different forms. Some may be destroying every enemy, and not letting one slip by. Some might be to just survive the level! They diversify the already great core gameplay, and are a fantastic added experience. How you unlock these challenges is also another interesting mechanic.

When you complete a run in arcade mode, you finish with a score depending on how well you did. This score is added to your lifetime score and, at certain milestones, you unlock new things.

There are not only challenges to unlock, but bullet colors, filters for the game, extra continues for arcade mode, new game modes, and more. It’s fantastic to see a shoot em up that’s so dedicated to having so much content.

Devilish Appearance

Devil Engine does a great job in the visuals department. Environments in each level look smooth, and appealing.

The color palette works really well with Devil Engine’s design. I found myself often getting lost in the game’s visuals.

Enemy design is good, and enemies differentiate themselves enough from one another. Boss designs look very different from the other enemies. Mixing their design with the flashing emergency on screen, really created a tense atmosphere for the boss fights.

The soundtrack of Devil Engine is fantastic. Hyakutarou Tsukumo, the composer for Thunder Force V, worked on this soundtrack. It really shows, because the music fits perfectly with the intense gameplay.

Engines Running At 80% Capacity

From a technical standpoint, there are a few issues with Devil Engine’s gameplay. Frame rate, and resolution are good, although there were a few frame dips. This occurred mostly when the screen was heavily populated with enemies.

One problem I had with Devil Engine, was with pausing. When I paused the game for any length of time, it would crash when I tried to resume. A quick pause for a few seconds wouldn’t do this, but anymore time than that usually caused crashes.

It wasn’t only in these instances. Sometimes, I would experience crashes right in the middle of a playthrough, for no apparent reason. It’s really unfortunate because the gameplay is really immersive, but these random crashes really take away from its immersion.

I felt the controls were very solid. The ability to change your speeds really helped with this. It can be pretty difficult to dodge large groups of bullets, but that’s the nature of the genre.

Conclusion

I rarely ever connect so well with a shmup game, but Devil Engine checks a lot of boxes. Not only is gameplay fun, but the visuals are great, and there’s tons of content to unlock.

While it’s a blast to play, there are design choices that do hinder it’s gameplay. Not to mention the technical issues, and crashes, that can take away from the experience.

If you’re looking for a shmup with tons of content, and some great gameplay, you should check out Devil Engine. There’s a lot of fun to be had here.


7.5/10 Recommended 2D Shoot-Em-Up

Great SHMUP Held Back by A Few Technical & Design Flaws


Pros

  • Fast, Fun Gameplay
  • Tons of Content to Unlock
  • Great Looking Visuals
  • Great Soundtrack
  • Intimidating Bosses
  • Adjustable Speed Levels
  • Difficulty Options
  • Challenges Add to the Variety

Cons

  • Occasional Crashes
  • Enclosed Areas can be Frustrating
  • Absorb Function causes Delay and Unavoidable Deaths
  • Very Challenging for Casual Players

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