Everyone knows the tale of Sweeney Todd, the barber that worked with his wife to help her make some rather unique meat pies. Ravenous Devils is pretty much exactly that story in videogame format – albeit swapping out the famous barber with a tailor instead.
It’s an interesting, if gruesome, premise – but does it provide a killer experience, or does it deserve to be mincemeat?
Many thanks to Troglobytes Games for the review code.
A SLICE OF THE PIE
The game begins with the happy couple, Hildred and Percival, setting up shop in a 19th century English town. Meat prices have skyrocketed, so the residents are starving and after some affordable grub. Thankfully, Hildred is a professional chef and has her own secret ingredient that she can get for free.
On a completely unrelated note, Percival has set up his tailor shop upstairs; which conveniently has a trapdoor in the backroom that leads all the way down to Hildred’s kitchen.
With Percival slicing up the bodies in the backroom, using his victim’s garments to sell in his shop; and Hildred using the fresh meat to make her meaty dishes, everything seems to be going well. At least, until they receive a letter from the mysterious J – who is making demands of them in return for their silence. With no other option than to comply, will they manage to keep their business running?
Even though the basic premise is hardly anything new, the storyline is interesting enough to give you a reason to keep going. It’s unfortunate that the targets that the blackmailer assigns aren’t part of the actual gameplay and are instead only played out during cutscenes, as it would have been nice to have have them as an actual objective for you to be on the lookout for – but the game gives you enough things to worry about, so I guess it’s cutting you a little slack!
So, how exactly does all this play out? As a cooking management simulator of course! Initially, you’ll have three floors that you need to manage: the top floor tailor shop, the restaurant in the middle, and kitchen in the basement. You control both characters, meaning you’ll need to flick between floors frequently to make sure the other person is kept busy. Hildred is definitely the one you’ll be spending most of your time with, but Percival is important too as he will control your food supply, meaning it would be unwise to ignore him. It can feel a little bit like scratching your head and rubbing your belly at times to keep everything going, but you do get used to it after the initial couple of in-game days.
Rather than controlling the characters directly, instead you control a beam of light that highlights objects for your characters to interact with. This control method does make sense for the style of game, as you give orders for one character to do while you switch to the other, but the cursor can feel a little clunky. Zooming in does help (particularly as the graphics are a tad murkier on the Switch compared to other platforms) and you can play around with the cursor sensitivity too – but I never found it to be the easiest thing to use. Thankfully, the game does have full touchscreen support and that works like a charm; in fact, it quickly became my preferred way to play as it helped me multitask with far greater confidence. You’ll lose some graphical fidelity switching to portable mode, but the payoff is worth it in my opinion.
The game is broken up into short days, and you can use the funds earned after each day to purchase from a wide array of useful upgrades. These range from new ingredients that you can use for additional recipes, to something as simple as an oven that cooks faster. If you don’t fancy buying anything with utility, you can choose to purchase something for style instead, since both characters have multiple costumes that you are able to purchase. Whilst the core gameplay remains more or less the same throughout, the gameplay evolves as you upgrade your business. Buying restaurant tables will allow you to have seated guests that can earn you a lot more money, but you need to take their orders and treat them with priority. Additional machinery in the kitchen may allow you to make more things for higher prices, but the added variety means that you won’t be able to precook things ready, since they may order something completely different. Things may start out straightforward, but by the end of the game every corpse will be important and you’ll need to learn how to manage both businesses well. It’s a fun gameplay loop, and thankfully the game allows you to keep playing once the story ends, meaning that you can hop back in once the story is over for a bit of gruesome entertainment.
Considering the low price, I was expecting the game to have a lot of issues, but there isn’t really much to criticise for a budget game. The graphics on the Switch aren’t of the highest quality, but it seems like a sacrifice (no pun intended) that had to be made to ensure things run smoothly. Other than that, there’s only really the aforementioned imperfect docked controls and the odd spelling / grammar mistake – overall, it’s a surprisingly solid experience.
Ravenous Devils has a very grizzly setup, and it does not hold back in any way. Our horrible antiheroes are brutal in their murderous ways, and don’t flinch at chopping their innocent victims into steaks. They’re not completely irredeemable though, and can be likeable in their own twisted way. As long as you can stomach the premise, and the control setup, there’s hours of fun to be had here for a very cheap price. It may be best played in handheld, but the important thing is that it ought to be played.