Devil Slayer: Raksasi

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: indienova
Developer: GlassesCatGames
Release Date: 2020


Switch/PS4/PC Preview - 'Devil Slayer: Raksasi'

by Cody Medellin on March 11, 2020 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Devil Slayer: Raksasi is a top-down action game with procedurally generated dungeons, profound roguelike elements, and intuitive soul-like fighting.

The recent flood of roguelikes tends to have a medieval fantasy setting, although a few go for something more modern. Fewer go the sci-fi route, either by taking place in the future or an alternate version of the past that's both different and familiar. Devil Slayer: Raksasi concentrates on the Feudal Japanese era but adds in some fantasy elements. We checked out a recent build to see how the development is progressing.

First, players will notice that there are only six chapters in the game at the moment. That seems rather small for a roguelike, even if you take the randomization into account, which changes the map layout, the enemies you fight, and even the bosses. Item selection also varies, so you might get lucky and get a familiar to help you on one run, while another run leaves you with some low-level items to work with. What helps pad things out is the fact that you can choose one of six different warriors to fight as, each with their own weapons and abilities. For example, you may go through one run with a sword-wielding demon hunter who has the ability to go berserk, while another run sees you using a demon princess with a spear that can regenerate her health by inflicting special bleed damage on her foes.

Speaking of combat, Raksasi moves away from being a button-masher. Instead, the game aims for a combat system popularized by the Dark Souls series, where your path to success lies in you being able to dodge attacks and counter or find an opening to get in a few hits before dodging and repeating the process. Like that series, stamina plays a big role, as it governs how many times you can dodge in succession before you let the meter recharge. That also means paying attention to your environment, so you'll know if you even have room to dodge before spending precious stamina. Your attacks don't spend any stamina at all, which gives people a chance to experience the combat system without getting overwhelmed by all of its trappings.

Aside from the modified combat system, Raksasi does a few interesting things to the genre. For starters, the game seems to relish in its harshness by ensuring that everyone is out to get you or make you feel bad about slaughtering them. The shopkeepers are fine until you ask them to keep your money safe for you. That seems like a nice feature to have until you find out that you have to fight them to get that cash bask. For the latter, there are a few enemies that shriek at you for their attack, but they only do so when you corner them. You need to kill them to open up all of the exits for the area, but you don't get satisfaction from doing so compared to the other enemies. Also, the game does a better job of ensuring that your next runs will eventually get better; the successful completion of a chapter means the ability to bank souls in one of three vendors. Doing so eventually unlocks permanent traits for specific characters, so there's more of a purpose to the grind that's synonymous with this genre.

Although Raksasi is still in its early stages of development, there are a few things that still need some attention. For starters, while you have six characters to work with once they're all unlocked, only their dialogue is different when it comes to the narrative. Everyone else responds with the same dialogue no matter who you choose, which gives the story less weight. Another element that could use some fixes is the HUD, which gives so much info that your visible area for combat becomes too small. That's a tougher problem, since it is nice to see all of your items and other stats at a quick glance rather than having to do this via menus, but it would be nice to have an option to display what you want, so everyone comes away happy.

As far as presentation goes, the game is clean. The color palette used in the top-down viewpoint does a good job of conveying the grimness of the situation, but the detail in every element is astounding. The animations are good enough that you can clearly read the tells for each enemy. The audio is also fine, even though the soundtrack is limited so far, but the sound effects really carry this side of the game, especially since there are no voices beyond grunts and the screams from attacks.

At the moment, Devil Slayer: Raksasi is shaping up to be a roguelike to watch out for. While still adhering to the Dark Souls mantra of defense and counterattacks as the main pillars of combat, it feels different since it doesn't copy the formula wholesale. The overall length of the game may not be vast yet, but the high difficulty level and character roster compensate for that since everyone plays so differently. This title may not leave Steam Early Access before the end of the year, but so far, Raksasi looks like it can be a winner due to the constant patching and attention the developers have given it thus far.

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