Devil’s Hunt

Devil's Hunt – PC (2019)

Okay, maybe considering Hellbound for a kusoge article was a bit harsh. Sure, the game had a ton of bizarre issues and decisions, but it did nail the basics. But Devil’s Hunt? Oh, there is no other place you could argue this belongs. Devil’s Hunt is an adaptation of the book Equilibrium, an urban fantasy epic and the start of a full trilogy made by one Paweł Leśniak about a normal rich dude ending up in the middle of a war between Heaven and Hell. You may have also noticed the name Paweł Leśniak over on the side with him listed as a director. He was a creative director to be exact, and also credited with story and, uh, hang on…*flips through notes* being the CEO and founder of the game’s development studio Layopi Games. It’s important to mention Layopi Games no longer exists and most of its staff didn’t get paid at the end. Devil’s Hunt was going to get console ports, emphasis on “was.”

Devil’s Hunt looks like a big budget game, it sounds like a big budget game, and it was marketed like a big budget game. The art team was completely on point the whole way, with lived in spaces, just straight up awesome looking Hell segments, solid enemy designs, and a ton of fun environmental details to lose yourself in during the low moments. The score fits, the actors all handle their roles to the best of their ability, and there’s a ton of nifty effects during combat. However, as you play Devil’s Hunt, the façade quickly begins to dissolve, because absolutely nothing feels like it should, and not for any sort of artistic reason but more from just general incompetence.

Don’t blame the actual developers, they clearly did the best they could with the time and direction given, further emphasis on “direction.” Leśniak is not a game designer and it shows just from how cutscenes are used, basically straight up lifts from his original text, resulting in a mess of boring exposition dumps that lack any character they may have once had because the facial animations are too stiff to allow for any subtle cues to read into that would normally be given by narration. There is also a lot of them, and they get very old, very fast, especially in the early game which is mostly watching the idiot protagonist, Desmond, get lead around and humiliated by a variety of magical dicks, including an angel who looks like Vergil from DmC and The Russian who is also implied to be a rapist. Things don’t get interesting until the very end, leaving the majority of the experience an endless string of frustrations as Desmond refuses to use his tiny, spoiled brain.

The actual story isn’t bad, mind you, and you can see how Leśniak’s later books have managed to get so many good reviews. The idea is Desmond is the thrill seeking son of a rich mortgage trader who sees his life unravel before his eyes and ends up with him making a deal with the devil to get his revenge on his best friend, which turns out to be over a complete misunderstanding. On top of that, he is constantly referred to as the “savior and destroyer,” some sort of figure of great importance every faction wants on their side. There are moments this story clicks, like when you meet Belial or when you realize angels are hiding out on Earth running a land development company, but it’s often undermined by Desmond just sort of waddling around from scene to scene, not knowing what he’s doing, what his goal is, and his manipulators all being comically bad at the manipulating part. Desmond is also a personality void, often just reciting the most forgettable “well this is happening” Marvel movie jokes imaginable to the point they don’t even read as quips.

The game also feels, well, not necessarily “bad” but certainly not enjoyable. Animations are often either too long or too short, killing the rhythm of combat, and your defensive options are either a standard parry mechanic where you have to press the button with certain attacks, and a dodge that takes way too long to recover from using. You have light and heavy punching that leave no real impact, and most of your abilities are just strange. Stuff like an AOE fist smash and the timed sticky grenade move work, but one of the first you get just has you move around automatically and slash at every enemy once, having no real combo potential. Sound effects are often soft during execution animations, so the weight of the cool stuff going on is lost, and Desmond’s face is also not animated during these, so you just see his lifeless mug just sort of existing while he’s slitting a demon’s throat. Nothing feels right, and how much damage you take from attacks either rangers to nothing to nearly dying in one hit, and it’s never quite the move you expect to do that.


Combat is also not just divided between the endless sea of cutscenes, but weirdly slow walking segments where you can find the odd lost soul (used to gain new abilities) or obviously places notes or picture to look at for the most out of place environmental storytelling any game has ever had. It’s mostly walking and interacting with set points that have you move through some sort of obstacle or rough terrain by just…moving forward. There’s no extra challenge, they just serve to slow the pacing even further. It doesn’t help most areas are fairly empty, making you wonder why these segments were here. Also, get used to the same few animations used over and over for walking through crevasses, throwing aside a falling pillar, climbing up a ledge, jumping down a ledge, ect.

What’s left here is a game that’s trying to pretend it has depth and thrills, but the pacing is completely off due to a lack of necessary changes to make the original book work with the pacing of an action game. The skill trees don’t fill out until the second half and don’t really offer much to play with, the base combat is bare bones and rarely manages to engage or encourage any sort of fighting style, and I didn’t even mention the mostly pointless devil mode where you just sort of swat at an enemy awkwardly and maybe do an animation where it’s like you’re ripping them open but that doesn’t happen, which is a similar problem to your soul drain grab move with certain enemies. I’m still not sure if doing executions even offers a bonus besides the same few finisher cutscenes again and again.

Devil’s Hunt is the sort of disaster that happens when an artist from another medium fails to recognize another has completely different rules, norms, and methods of language to understand. This could have been something, but Leśniak’s bad direction, and possibly some from other high ranking staff, never really gave the game a chance. May have also helped to not expect to get a trilogy right off the bat. This is one of the most fascinating messes of a game out there, a great example of what not to do when making a game. So much talent and skill poured their sweat and tears into this, and all we’re left with is a pretty collection of stilted cutscenes where the world’s dimmest frat guy gets clowned on by a seven foot old man with a goody mustache wearing a monocle. Granted, that is the game’s major highlight, which is about a few minutes that don’t really lead anywhere significant. Welp.

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