Making The Most Of The Options You Have In Devil Engine

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Devil Engine doesn’t hide the fact that it is inspired by the shmups of old, eschewing the ‘bullet hell’ format of gameplay for a more patterned variation of bullets that while hard to avoid, isn’t overwhelming. The game overall is difficult, no doubt, but at least it sends you back in immediately instead of sending you back to the checkpoint.


What’s important to track are the options you have in the game. In Devil Engine, you have three different Shot types – Shotgun, Laser, and Homing, which can be individually upgraded if you collect the same type of Shot multiple times. As in other games, you can only have one at a time, so it’s better to stick with the best Shot for the situation you’re in, or the one you’re most comfortable with.


For my case, I mostly stuck with Laser, which is the most powerful of the three, and Laser was also very effective against bosses and mini-bosses as well. Sometimes I would switch to Homing, especially during tight corridors where taking out mounted turrets just out of reach otherwise would determine life or death. Beware though, as dying drops your Shot power down one level, hindering you even further. However, using a Continue starts you off at max level.


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Meanwhile you have ‘Bombs’, which are a misnomer. They aren’t screen clearers – instead, they increase your firepower for a short while, with the method depending on the Shot type. It summons two options that shoot lasers for Laser, and fires spread and homing missiles for Shotgun and Homing Shots respectively. Bombs are charged via destroying enemies, and so you get them much more frequently than you would in other games.


It takes a long while to get used to pressing the Bomb button for extra firepower against bosses or tough enemy mobs – I kept forgetting about them initially, as I am used to games where they are scarce but keep you alive in a pinch. I wish that the Bomb count was somewhere more viewable than the top-left, however. It’s a bit hard to see currently with red and yellow font against a gray background.


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Instead, the “screen clearing” function is left to the Burst button, which is mapped to Y as default. It can be used infinitely, as long as the yellow curved bar is charged to max. However, the radius of the Burst depended on my combo, so during times when I was avoiding enemies or wasn’t doing well, it actively punished me for trying to escape. I found the system much stricter than the usual Get Out of Jail Free card that Bombs usually are, and they don’t defeat enemies either.


The mixture of Bombs and Bursts is a nice way to spice up gameplay and increase difficulty just by the nature of how they work, and while I did appreciate it, sometimes I missed the simplicity of relying on regular Shots with Bombs as an escape option. Finally, you can change your ship’s speed, and I found it helpful to switch to fast speed when escaping bullets, while slow speed is much more important for avoiding mistakes like hitting walls.


With all these options at my disposal, while it took me a while to get used to it, Devil Engine gave me just the right amount of wiggle room to get out of tight spots without lowering difficulty at all. But because it expected me to use these effectively, I replayed Stage 1 several times to practice a bit. That way, I wouldn’t die as easily…


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…or not. I’m still improving! The furthest I’ve made it so far is the middle of Stage 2.


Devil Engine is available on Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam.

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Image of Alistair Wong
Alistair Wong
Very avid gamer with writing tendencies. Fan of Rockman and Pokémon and lots more!