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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.

Mother Russia Bleeds is king of that category. While it's a sidescrolling beat-'em-up instead of a top-down murder simulator, Mother Russia Bleeds screams Hotline Miami. It's got the same propensity for over-the-top violence, a similar drug-fueled nightmare of a plot--hell, it even uses some of the same color palette.

That's not to say it's a bad thing. Mother Russia Bleeds looks like it'll be crazy fun if you miss the Golden Axe/ Streets of Rage/Double Dragon days of yore. Except instead of eating a turkey out of the trash to regain health, now you're injecting heroin. Or something. I don't know, it's dark and edgy.

Crossing Souls

The best part of Crossing Souls is when you're not playing it.

That's not to say the core top-down action-RPG (think Link to the Past mixed with Earthbound) game is bad. Not at all! It's chock full of '80s pop culture references and seems like it'll be hilarious. Plus you're constantly switching between the realms of the living and dead, which means you'll encounter...well, some weirdos.

But occasionally you progress through the story enough to be rewarded with a cutscene done in the style of an '80s cartoon, and hot damn does it look gorgeous. Look at this:

That's some Banner Saga level of animation. It's not even like playing a game--it's a mixed-media game/TV hybrid. It's stunning enough that I'm interested in seeing more, even though I feel like I barely know anything about how Crossing Souls will play.

Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star

Which brings us to Devolver's final game of E3 2015, Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star--the sequel/expansion to last year's pigeon dating-sim Hatoful Boyfriend. Yes, pigeon dating simulator. As in the bird. Clearly you missed the memo.

Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star has actually existed for a while, but Devolver's giving it the same remaster/translation treatment as last year's iteration. And unlike the original Hatoful Boyfriend, Holiday Star is more visual novel and less dating sim.

It is still 100 percent weird, though. Expect tons of bird-based puns, bad jokes, and over the top action. During my brief demo, five birds joined together Care Bear-style to form a psionic shield and deflect tank shells. And I swear that actually happened and wasn't just something I made up. Remember when I said some of Devolver's games are weird? Well in that case Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star is the most Devolver of them all.

 

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