Developer Ratalaika Games has become synonymous with easy trophies and achievements, but their games have always been passable at best when it came down to the actual execution of its various parts. Daggerhood manages to buck the trend of mediocrity by embracing a unique and fun gameplay loop that relies heavily on trial and error gameplay without sacrificing accessibility.
The game strikes the same chords as 2018’s breakout platforming hit, Celeste. they’re both extremely challenging, reflex-based platformers that force players to rely on precision and speed. Daggerhood excels due to its relative simplicity, however, with its core gameplay being based around three simple objectives: Beat the level under par time to get a 3-star rating, collect five treasures per level, and collect one fairy that disappears if it isn’t reached in time.
Luckily, it never becomes overwhelming thanks to the developer’s decision to only require one of those objectives be done per run of a level. As the level difficulty intensifies, it’s less stressful knowing you can make a fast dash to the end for one objective and immediately replay for the other two individually as well. The instantaneous restart upon death eases frustration even more, and it’s very needed. Daggerhood isn’t easy. The game tested my patience more and more as I pressed on, but the sense of relief from overcoming the challenge is consistently rewarding. I never became so irritated that I wanted to stop playing the game, but sweaty palms are to be expected through Daggerhood.
The simple 2D platforming is accentuated by the hero’s ability to throw his knife and warp to it. This unique mechanic offers a bevy of interesting challenges like trying to time the warp perfectly to land between two spike traps. It’s my favorite aspect of Daggerhood’s puzzle-like design, but it doesn’t come without frustrations. Lining up perfect throws and warps on tiny platforms can be needlessly difficult at times, and I would’ve liked to see the developers do away with the limit on its range. It’s never fun to think you’ve pulled off an amazing throw just to find out that you’re a hair short when its time to warp.
Other temporary items exist in the game with a time limit and require lightning-fast decisions and perfect platforming to ensure they’re put to use in the proper spot. An early addition has our hero picking up an axe that has to be used to break a block that can only be damaged by that item. Not reaching the block in time can surely ruin a 3-star rating and pressure you into a restart. I loved that the addition of these random extra items add a much-needed break from Daggerhood’s fun but otherwise rinse-and-repeat formula that mostly revolves around wall-jumping and basic platforming.
The package is helped even further by its retro look. The pixelated and minimalistic aesthetic works well to showcase the excellent gameplay without overwhelming the senses with copious amounts of distractions. And even the music (while undeniably repetitive) is catchy. I would’ve liked more variety in Daggerhood’s presentation, but what’s here works exceptionally well nonetheless.
Having played a few other Ratalaika games over the last few years, I expected nothing more than a 20-minute platinum when I sat down to invest in Daggerhood. I would’ve never expected to be up at 3am playing the game well past the sound of the platinum trophy notification. If you can go into Daggerhood with an open mind, you may find more than you expected for the low price point. there’s a surprising amount of depth to its deceptively simple mechanics, and the overwhelming feeling of a relief after a successful run of a level is unparalleled. There are worse ways to spend a weekend.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
If you can go into Daggerhood with an open mind, you may find more than you expected for the low price point and surprising depth.