I want to say first that I'm glad I finally gave Dark Devotion a proper chance, its a 2D, souls-like, roguelike with some metroidvania elements to it. I tried it a while back and bounced right off, due to finding the controls awkward and simply not being in the mood for the miserable atmosphere, getting more that enough misery from the state of the world right now, but after decideding to review it due to a lack of anything else I fancied, I found myself actually really getting into it.
The plot is mostly told through a short intro at the start that tells you very little, and documents found in the levels, and as usual I don't want to spoil much but I honestly don't think I could, the best I could gather was that your Templar order has laid seige to some mystic temple and either wants to purge it or take it over, maybe both, and their was also mention of a something at the end that could grant a wish. It's delibaratly confusing and I found that in itself enough motivation to want to push to the end, in the hope that it might explain itself by then.
I've honestly been struggling to come up with many criticisms for Dark Devotion, it's really very well designed. Everything I was going to mention is balanced out well by other mechanics, for example I was going complain about how the traps in some of the levels are annoying and hard to see, but they're also not overused so they kind off sneak up on you at times, which I think reflects good design in that. That one at the start of the Ancient Dungeon gets me evey bloody time. When I first started it did take me a while to get used to the controls, why having three separate buttons for dodge would be necassary is beyound me, you'd think those buttons would be better served for using consumables or abilities, that and I swear sometimes the dodge just doesn't work.
I think my biggest issue with the game is the character design, the enemies and bosses are a bit generic early on but they do get a lot more interesting later on, it's the main character and most of the NPCs that are uninteresting, they're mostly guys in armour, with the exception of the main character and a few others who have the honour of being girls in armour.
The combat is definitely the best part of the game, which is probably always the most important thing to get right in a souls-like, it has the right mix of measured and fast-paced that it strikes a balance that I find very cathartic. Difficulty also escalates very well as you progress through the temple with some very imaginative boss fights along the way, although the ones I've encountered that were the most entertaining to fight, like The Anomaly, The Virgin and The Ancient, were also the easiest ones so that was a little dissapointing. One mechanic I really like are the blessings, curses and diseases that build up through the course of each run and reset when you inevitably die, curses and disease will add debuffs to your character or make every enemy in the game into elites, certain blessings that won't reset can be bought with experiance and assigned to your character to give you perks and positive status effects. Blessings, curses and diseases will also be randomly picked up throughout the levels which I think is good as you are often worn down if a run is going on a long time, meaning you die so you have to return to your base, the Filthblood Shelter, and set of on a new run that might go better or maybe even worse. I like it, it adds some unpredictablility.
All in all, Dark Devotion is a very well made game that I regret not giving the proper time to earlier, I love some of the boss fights and if you enjoy your souls-likes it a must play in my opinion as long as you don't mind a putting in the hours before it gets really engaging and can overlook a rather miserable tone.