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Computer Devil Blade Reboot Review

Devil Blade Reboot is a legitimate shmup masterpiece and one of the best examples of the genre we've experienced in quite some time – and it runs flawlessly on the Steam Deck. Make sure you pick it up.
 
 

General Information

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Devil Blade was originally developed by Shigatake – a Japanese illustrator who is best known today for their work with Vanillaware – using the PS1 shoot 'em up creation software Dezaemon Plus. Devil Blade Reboot (available on Steam now) is a complete remake of that game which enhances the visuals, audio and gameplay – and it's one of the most electrifying shmups we've played in recent years.

The core mechanics seem simple enough; you have two shot types (Narrow and Wide), which can be toggled between at will. Narrow is more powerful but causes your craft to move more slowly when used, while Wide is weaker but covers a wider area and doesn't result in a speed penalty.

You also have a selection of bombs which deal damage to all on-screen enemies. These can be replenished by picking up special icons, and it's possible to gain a shield which absorbs a single shot. However, there's no way to power up your two weapon types and no additional weapons to collect.

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Devil Blade Reboot's complexity comes from the way in which its scoring system works. The closer you are to foes as you kill them, the higher your score multiplier. Furthermore, the game features a 'Berserk' gauge; when this goes over 100%, Berserk mode is activated, increasing enemy health and attack power but boosting your score multiplier by five times. You can also sacrifice a bomb to boost your Berserk gauge, instantly putting you in a high-score state surrounded by more powerful enemies.

As if it needed spelling out, risk means reward in Devil Blade Reboot; play aggressively, and you'll increase your score massively, but you'll also increase the chance of death – this delicate balancing act is what makes the game so thrilling.

Alternatively, if you keep your distance from foes and make sure your Berserk gauge remains below 100%, you'll find the game is much easier – but you'll get a lower score. In this regard, Devil Blade Reboot ensures that it's accessible to newcomers while also offering something for score-chasers.

With only six levels, Devil Blade Reboot isn't the longest game, and if you choose to play in Easy mode, you'll breeze through it in a single sitting. Normal mode is a much sterner challenge, but the game's longevity is considerably enhanced by the presence of several unlockable extras – the most impressive of which is the original 1996 version of the game. Items are unlocked using coins earned during play, encouraging you to return to the game multiple times.

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Not that much encouragement is needed, of course; Devil Blade Reboot plays like a dream, with tight controls and addictive gameplay. In addition to this, the updated visuals are truly jaw-dropping, using scaled and rotating 2D sprites to create the impression of 3D depth. Explosions are also impressive, with certain levels erupting in a flourish of gorgeous pyrotechnic effects without becoming too hard to parse.

The music, too, is utterly brilliant; the only part of the audio package which is slightly lacking is the voices of boss characters, which are rather flat and often a little comical (you can turn these off, thankfully).

Conclusion

With its engaging gameplay loop, instant accessibility, potential for intense high-level play and blistering presentation, Devil Blade Reboot is a legitimate shmup masterpiece and one of the best examples of the genre we've experienced in quite some time – and it runs flawlessly on the Steam Deck. Make sure you pick it up.

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