I am a HUGE fan of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and the developers at Bad Vice Games are clearly also fans of the musical movie, as Ravenous Devils is so close in nature it basically breathes the same air as the hit film of 2007. The Tim Burton-directed feature was very novel in idea, a barber that was wronged by the legal system decides to exact revenge on the dregs of society by murdering them and stuffing them into meat pies in order to feed them to other members of that same society. This is the magic Ravenous Devils is inspired by, and for the most part, it does a decent job.
Unfortunately, the point-and-click based Ravenous Devils abandons the musical aspect of the movie and goes straight into the operations side of things. The player controls Percival and Hildred, a murderous couple on the lam from an unnamed location, in search of another place to set up their murderous shop. The atmosphere bleeds the DNA of Sweeney Todd, the streets of the 19th century inspired locale feel like London without ever uttering the name.
The main point of Ravenous Devils is to have Percival run his tailor shop, and Hildred run her Pub/ Restaurant concurrently, while keeping customers satisfied. The caveat to running these shops, is Percival is a serial murderer who stabs patrons to death with his tailor’s scissors, and Hildred cooks the deceased customers with a variety of recipes alluded to as “grandma’s recipes.”
The basement that Hildred calls the kitchen is a bloody mess, and the butchering of human flesh is extremely graphic in nature. Ravenous Devils is truly not for the faint of heart. The scenes of butchery are akin to Mortal Kombat fatality sequences. The gameplay follows a similar loop each time: Kill a patron as Percival, dump the body down a chute, clean the mess, tailor the deceased’s clothes, and then put them up for sale as his own. Whereas Hildred’s gameplay is similarly loopy; take a body and stuff it into the meat grinder/ sausage maker/ or simply butcher it, then prepare it in a multitude of ways to satisfy customers. This is where the point and click gameplay becomes monotonous, as the same actions are performed over and over again, but it is oddly addicting to a degree.
“Ravenous Devils is truly not for the faint of heart. The scenes of butchery are akin to Mortal Kombat fatality sequences.”
As the player upgrades the shop, more options become available. Customers start entering the fine dining establishment to sit down and eat, with requests of certain preparations. Time limits on customer satisfaction is the driving point, as a completely unsatisfied customer will drag the establishment’s reputation. So, gameplay essentially becomes a loop of kill, cook, feed, prepare for the next day.
There is a segment in Ravenous Devils where the player can recruit an assistant in the form of a local kid who’s left jobless due to his boss becoming a menu item. This felt like more tension would arise, as maybe the murderous couple can get caught somehow, but this is not the case. A convenient plot device of ‘if you enter the kitchen for any reason, you will be fired’ has entered the narrative. This erases any tension the morally-sound helping ‘employee’ could have caused, a massive disappointment.
As a matter of fact, there were some occasions in Ravenous Devils where, as Percival, I would murder a patron, while another patron was literally right on the other side of the door, without suspicion or consequence. The title could have used an aspect of risk associated with murdering limitless humans, there are no heat meters whatsoever, just kill countless times and reap the rewards of more cooking ingredients. Better than grocery shopping.
“So, gameplay essentially becomes a loop of kill, cook, feed, prepare for the next day.”
When preparing meals as Hildred, it became blatantly obvious that grabbing certain ingredients in the cramped basement would be a big pain. I constantly grabbed the wrong item and had to put it back with the point and click controls. This was very irritating, especially while controlling both characters at once. There was no method to map out how either character could just function while observing their work, erasing any aspect of pre-planning. Constantly, Hildred would place something on a serving tray, then leave the tray and walk to the oven, wasting precious seconds due to my overzealous clicking on her next action. An action queue where ‘next’ actions happen in a list like in The Sims would have been a wonderful improvement. Micromanaging becomes everything.
There is a driving narrative in Ravenous Devils where a single entity named ‘J’ figures out what the protagonists are doing, and you must kill certain patrons in storyline segments to progress due to heinous blackmail. This doesn’t feel all that special, but the writing is good, and scouring the story can lead to some actual laughs and thought provocation. There are multiple story segments of patrons too that don’t really have endings, or just feel abrupt.
A kid named Peter takes a liking to Hildred as a mom figure, and an internal conflict ensues which seeps with depth and character building for one of our murderous duo. But the conclusion of this interaction is swift, and feels rushed to the point of ‘what was the point anyway?’ This is how all ‘meaningful’ interactions take place, fast, and left with wanting more. Although there is a part where a cat becomes an asset to the shop, and it’s nice to see the main characters aren’t just heartless beasts with no remorse, they at least love cats.
Ravenous Devils is a solid little title that breaks the horror and cooking simulator mould in a refreshing way. Solid writing adds to the setting quite a bit, and the dark undertones of the entire narrative really flesh the title out with an excellent art style and musical score. Addictive gameplay demands the player to ‘open shops’ again. But, the repetitive gameplay, issues with item placement when in a rush, monotonous controls, and meaningless interactions hold the title back from where it can really become a diamond in the rough. As it stands, Ravenous Devils is a fun and unique play, but far from a perfect meal.