I found myself genuinely surprised in the early hours after the Devolver Digital showcase, as I searched my way through their immense portfolio of indie classics. Without even realizing it at the time, I own almost every single one of their published titles, and every single one I own, I absolutely adore. I couldn’t stop my mind from wandering: how do they keep hitting on everything they touch? What is it about their games that hooks their player-base (myself included)? Most importantly, what’s the best of the best that they’ve ever published? I feel I can at least comfortably answer the latter of those questions, with 10 of the best games they’ve ever published, so let’s dive right in.
10. My Friend Pedro
Talking bananas, a protagonist with amnesia and waves of enemies to kill – My Friend Pedro is the poster child for what to expect from a Devolver Digital game: pure, enjoyable chaos. Set with a side-on perspective, My Friend Pedro plays like a retro-styled arcade game, with a very simple premise – look as cool as possible while progressing through each level.
Gameplay revolves around progressing through a variety of levels while trying to maintain a score multiplier by killing enemies as quickly and uniquely as possible, all the while avoiding getting shot. It’s a modern score-attack game, that is well worth getting your hands on if you haven’t already.
9. The Messenger
The Messenger has one of the most unique game mechanics I’ve ever had the opportunity of experiencing – you get to shift between literal time periods! Initially, the game-play is set in the past with very retro, arcade stylized 8-bit graphics, but eventually you’ll unlock the ability to jump to into the future, which upgrades the visuals 16-bit graphics. It admittedly doesn’t sound like much, but as the game ramps up it presents you with some truly unique puzzles that need to be approached with an outside of the box mentality.
Thematically, you take the role of a ninja traveling across an expansive, and looping world with the task of delivering a scroll. You’ll fight and slash your way through enemies and unlock new abilities and upgrades, which will allow you to return to previously ‘locked off’ areas, so you can continue your journey and exploration. It’s a retro game with truly unique approaches to progression and puzzles that’s a cant-miss!
8. Katana Zero
If you die (which you will, trust me on this), the game rewinds to the start of the level, which the game narratively presents as the protagonist planning how the scenario might play out. It’s really creative and actually takes the pain and frustration away from death (just a little bit). I’m a bit of massive fan of pixel art, so for any fellow pixel-lovers out there, this is a game you can’t go pass.
7. Ape Out
Have you ever wanted to escape from the shackles of reality and burst out of your cage, in as literal of a sense as possible? Then look no further. Ape Out is top-down title puts you in the role of an ape held captive – though as you may have guessed, not for long. It’s a splattery, action-packed, low-poly blood-fest that has an incredible jazz-themed soundtrack depicting your actions in a really satisfying and addicting manner.
You’ll fight your way through each level by hauling guards around like ragdolls, smashing through walls and obstacles and generally just making as big of a mess as possible. Is there some deeper meaning lending from sports-movie tropes
about ‘not being able to cage the beast’? I don’t think so at all, but it sounded pretty good for a second didn’t it?
I’m actually still surprised how few people have managed to play Gris, it’s arguably Devolver Digital’s most visually and aesthetically pleasing game that I recommend to anyone who tells me they enjoy puzzle games. Gris is a water-colour styled puzzle-platformer that explores complex human emotions in an incredibly touching an delicate manner, without every needing a line of dialogue (complimented by arguably one of the best scores out there from an indie game).
From the onset of the game, you set off in a grey and bland world, which slowly begins to colourize as you progress through each chapter and close off the emotional wounds afflicting the protagonist. The score and art style compliment eachother perfectly, into an incredibly touching and short package that I think should be experienced by everyone, becuase there’s really nothing else out there quite like it.
5. The Talos Principle
The Talos Principle, is the perfect game for someone who loves to break down and crack increasingly complex puzzles. 99% of my life, this really wasn’t me. I don’t play too many puzzle games, and I’m really not that much of a thinker, but back in 2015 when I first got my hands on The Talos Principle, I couldn’t put it down. In the first person, narrative-styled array of environments you get to explore, you control the robot protagonist with a seemingly human consciousness as you seek to solve the puzzles put in front of you from the suitably voiced narrator as you explore his generated worlds.
The Talos Principle surprisingly draws a lot of comparisons to Portal, which I think is extremely unfair to both parties, as the way in which you approach and solve the puzzles ranges drastically. With over 120 of the most complex, challenging and rewarding puzzles out there, The Talos Principle stands atop a pinnacle of puzzle-greats that have helped shaped the genre.
4. Death’s Door
Death’s Door is another one of the ever-growing Indie’s I’ve uncovered via gift that keeps on giving: Xbox Game Pass. Playing as a small crow, you travel across the game-world world collecting the souls of powerful enemies you defeat in combat in the hopes of opening Death’s Door. Game-play feels incredibly smooth and fluid as you slash your way through the countless enemy types and the art-style, level design and score compliment the rest of the gameplay experience perfectly.
I wouldn’t quite call it a ‘Souls-clone’, as theirs a lot more adventuring, puzzles and dungeon crawling compared to FromSoftware’s games (but I do think Devolver missed the mark on the name in my opinion, it was the perfect chance for ‘Bird Souls’, but I digress).
3. Enter the Gungeon
Enter the Gungeon primarily made this list for one simple reason. It restored my faith in couch co-op being relevant in modern gaming. A bullet-hole, action-packed roguelike that I think already a vast majority of you were expecting at the latter half of this list; Enter the Gungeon is nothing but pure unadulterated fun (that I cannot reccommend more with a few of your friends in a couch co-op setting).
With a healthy cast of playable characters, equipped with hundreds upon hundreds of extremely unique, fun and whacky weapons, as you search your way through the random and ever-changing dungeons thrown in front of you; it’s really hard not to love the complete package of the game. I’ve personally never beaten it, but that’s at no fault to the game, more-so my inability to beat anything with a slightest incremental difficulty curve.
2. Hotline Miami
Arguably, the most notable game on the list that put Devolver Digital on the map: Hotline Miami. I don’t know how else to describe it other than; it’s a top-down, incredibly fast-paced, murder simulator. That definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (and certainly wasn’t when it initially released), which is perfectly okay, but if you haven’t caught on already; this is the style of game Devolver Digital is notorious for now.
The incredible violence of the early levels ramps up to a lot more tactical planning, as you have to try and memorise and master room layouts in order to come out unscathed (or dead). You’ll be shooting dozens of varying enemies room after room, but eventually they start shooting back (with amazingly unfair accuracy at times). It’s fast-paced, brutal fun, and I can proudly (or scarily) say that it’s the Indie game I’ve invested the most amount of hours into.
Inscryption tops my list because it ticks all of the boxes of genres that I absolutely love. It’s a rogue-like, deck-building game with splices of horror as well (alongside some minor ‘escape room’ mechanics as well). It’s a hard game to try and explain, because I just want to spew on about 1000 words as to why it’s so incredibly unique, but it’ll sound like every other Devolver game I’ve mentioned.
Without spoiling anything, the best part of the game for me relates to the evolution of the game as you progress through the story, as its’ visuals, gameplay mechanics and entire theme shift drastically dependent on whether or not you can progress past each ‘milestone’ the game sets in front of you. There’s secret puzzles to solve, plenty to feel generally uncomfortable by, and the occasional breaking of the 4th wall. I’ll admit, Inscryption really isn’t for everyone as you have to enjoy card-based games (which I love), but the ways in which it expands upon this premise is exceptional.
I couldn’t have more unintentionally lined things up much better, but at the time of writing the Steam Summer Sale has just begun, in which you can get any one of these games for a significantly reduced price! All of this of course is what Devolver Digital have already published, but as I eluded to at the start of the article, there’s so much more to start getting excited about scheduled for release later this year and in to 2023. If anything I’ve covered today has interested you, or if you’d like to read up more on some of Devolver Digital’s published titles, I’d highly encourage to you check out their official website.