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Game Over Online ~ The Devil Inside

GameOver Game Reviews - The Devil Inside (c) Talonsoft, Reviewed by - Adam Fleet

Game & Publisher The Devil Inside (c) Talonsoft
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium II-233, 32MB Ram, 3D Accelerator, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 69%
Date Published Thursday, November 16th, 2000 at 07:51 PM

Divider Left By: Adam Fleet Divider Right

Boo! Did I scare you? We all like to be scared a little, don't we? Well, All Hallow's Eve may have come and gone, but we've not yet seen the last of the seasonal frights. With the success of suspense and horror themed games like the Resident Evil games and the Alone in the Dark series (with which The Devil Inside shares its writer and director, Hubert Chardot), it's no surprise that this time of year sees the release of many such games. Following Gathering of Developers' Nocturne engine driven Blair Witch titles, The Devil Inside stumbles into stores like the last guest at this year's Halloween party. Part survival horror, part 3rd person action, part reality TV spoof, The Devil Inside is an interesting game that doesn't quite know what it wants to be. Unfortunately a lot of the good aspects are overshadowed by poor controls and camera angles that are downright scary.

The Devil Inside puts you in the role of Dave Cooper, an ex-cop turned on-air investigator for a reality TV show aptly named The Devil Inside. It's Halloween night, and it's time for Dave to go to work. It seems that the soul of the executed serial killer known as The Night Howler has escaped from Hell along with a pack of his favorite psychotic drinking buddies, and they've set up shop in the mysterious Shadow Gate mansion. I guess Satan forgot to lock the door when he stepped out to get the morning paper. Either that or he hired the guards from Hogan's Heroes to watch the tortured souls again. When will he learn? Anyway, it's your job as Dave to investigate the strange happenings at Shadow Gate, gunning down zombies and ghouls as you go and sending your TV ratings through the roof. As an added twist, Dave can transform at various spots into a Deva, a powerful female devil. Deva wields magical powers, gaining more power as you consume the souls of fallen enemies and making brownie points with your dark master.

The game plays out in 3rd person perspective, complete with all the related pitfalls. The box claims some sort of 1st personness, but if such a thing exists I never found it. If the instruction pamphlet (I can't call something containing four sparse and not terribly informative pages a manual in all good conscience) knew anything about it, it wasn't telling. You make your way through the game finding keys, weapons, and miscellaneous stuff as you go. As Dave you find a variety of weapons to use, from pistols and shotguns to flamethrowers and power sanders. Sorry folks, no chainsaw. Dave's ranged weapons are laser-sighted Nocturne-style for ease of aiming. Deva's spells offer no such benefit, but have a tendency to home in on enemies anyway. The game features a fairly slick damage location model, allowing you to blow the heads and limbs off zombies with well-aimed shots. Occasionally such a shot will result in an action-freezing zoom in and circle by the camera Matrix-style for extra effect. There are a lot of enemies to blast, and once you get past the initial ammo drought at the beginning and learn how to take head shots, you'll have no want for ways to kill.

And were the controls better, blasting zombies and other various undead would be a lot of fun. Unfortunately this is one spot where The Devil Inside follows a little too closely in the footsteps of Resident Evil, a game that gave a new meaning to awkward control. Aiming is covered with the mouse, but is not linked to turning as in most shooters. In a firefight, it is very easy to loose track of which way you're actually facing. The controls suffer from a slight delay, making strafing and running clumsy, and the camera, which at times spins and zooms wildly, is thoroughly confused throughout. Seeing where you are and what's going on in tight spaces is a nightmare. Thankfully there are no jumping puzzles or other such genre fascinations that really bring out the weaknesses of the 3rd person perspective. There have been a few games lately, MDK2 and Rune to name a pair, that have managed smooth 3rd person control and camera work, proving once and for all that it is possible. The Devil Inside could have a learned a lot from them.

But despite the control problems, The Devil Inside manages to be a fair amount of fun. There is a lot of tongue in cheek humor as the game plays constantly on TV show aspects. You can hear the studio audience gasp when you try and open a locked door, and cheer when you clear a level or complete a goal. The tension of the game, always waiting for the next zombie to pop up, is played nicely against the humor; comments by The Devil Inside's host Jack T. Ripper, with his stereotypical TV show host voice, and the one liners by Dave as he dispatches baddies. The one liners, of which there are only a handful, do get old after a while, and the combination of styles does seem somewhat forced at times, but all in all the result is more successful than not.

There are certain problems that just kill good games dead. Bad control is one of them. But The Devil Inside doesn't stop there. It throws in another game killer for free: an awkward save system requiring you to find certain save spots during the game before you can save your game. Combined with the bad controls that can get you killed in a flash, and you've got the downfall of an otherwise interesting and clever game. I can't help but wonder how something like this happens. For a while there was a theory that awkward controls helped to make suspense games more frightening, because you knew you wouldn't just be able to shoot your way out of big trouble. But certainly that can't be the case for The Devil Inside, which advertises its actionness on the box, can it? In any case, I don't agree. Awkward controls always were and always will be annoying, and they suck a lot of the fun out of this game. The Devil Inside is a game with a lot of good, fun stuff, but a couple of major flaws prevent me from really recommending it. And that's a shame.

[33/50] Gameplay
[8/10] Graphics
[8/10] Sound
[4/10] Controls
[8/10] Plot
[8/10] Bugs


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