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Pixel art and pigeons: Inside Devolver Digital's quirky, retro-infused PC game lineup

Hayden Dingman | July 3, 2015
Devolver always has my favorite showcase at E3, and it's not just because I get to escape from the stale-air conditioned hell of the LA Convention Center to rake in some Southern California sunshine--though that is, scientifically, part of it. Never underestimate the effect Vitamin D has on your happiness.

Crossing Souls

Devolver always has my favorite showcase at E3, and it's not just because I get to escape from the stale-air conditioned hell of the LA Convention Center to rake in some Southern California sunshine--though that is, scientifically, part of it. Never underestimate the effect Vitamin D has on your happiness.

But it's more than that. Over the past few years, Devolver has proved itself one of video gaming's most exciting publishers. Does every game hit? No. Some of Devolver's titles prove better as concepts than full-length games. Others are, frankly, weird as hell.

They're all interesting though, and E3 2015 was no exception. In addition to hosting one of my most-anticipated games of the moment, Shadow Warrior 2, I also checked out a lineup that includes everything from a Viking-inspired dungeon crawler to...another pigeon game. For real.

Eitr

Aside from Shadow Warrior 2, Eitr is the top of the heap as far as Devolver's current lineup. That's crazy, because it came out of nowhere and yet by the end of E3 was one of those games where seemingly everyone was like, "Wait, did you try Eitr yet?"

Well, I tried Eitr. It's great.

Despite the lo-fi pixel art aesthetic, Eitr has quite a bit in common with both Diablo and Dark Souls. The former comparison is obvious: It's an isometric action-RPG. You're crossing through the nine worlds of Norse mythology instead of the planes of Hell, but it's otherwise an obvious inspiration.

The Dark Souls aspect comes into play with the game's leveling system. Killing enemies, exploration, and the like earn you "Favor" with the gods. While Favor can be used like normal XP, by purchasing permanent upgrades, you can also hold onto it and receive additional stat benefits. Thus, you could have a Level 1 character with 99 Favor who is much more powerful than a Level 99 character. It's an interesting twist.

Oh, except you lose all your Favor when you die. And you probably will die. (Not to brag, but I was told by the developers that I was only the second person of the day to beat the boss in one try--and my demo was literally the last half-hour slot of the day, taking place at 7:30PM. The game is hard.)

There's no release date for Eitr yet, but I'm definitely curious to see how it shapes up. The combat is tight, in that "Make one mistake and you're potentially doomed" way, and I've always been a fan of Norse mythology. This one's going on my watch list.

Mother Russia Bleeds

Somebody at Devolver really loves Hotline Miami. I say that because in addition to publishing both the original game and its sequel, Devolver seems to pump out plenty of games with a similarly grimy, drug-fueled aesthetic.

 

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