Devotion (2019, PC)

Devotion, despite just coming out this year, may already be one of the most ultimately obscure horror games ever to exist! This Taiwanese horror game from the creators of Detention (which I have not played, but I sure will now) has been entirely removed from sale due to a disgusting display of censorship.

Seems that somewhere in the game there was a piece of art on one of the backgrounds that mocked the President of China. I couldn’t tell you what exactly it was because I never even saw the damn thing when I played, but apparently it was much more recognizable to the Chinese, who raised such a stink over it that the game has been removed from Steam (the only place you could buy it), the developers were fired from the publishing company, and most official traces of its existence even down to YouTube trailers have been erased.

So yes, you’re understanding me correctly, it’s now impossible to legally obtain this game unless you happened to have grabbed it on one of the first few days of its release.

It’s a real shame, especially because it’s actually a really, really good game. In terms of gameplay Devotion is very similar to Layers of Fear, with absolutely beautiful environments filled with atmosphere and a tendency to shift into someplace else entirely if you even so much as turn around.

This is not just a simple clone though. Devotion does borrow a few pages directly from Layers of Fear, but overall it stands on its own two legs, telling a mysterious and darkly personal tale of a family in Taiwan that may or may not be mixed up in an occult situation borne from the bowels of Taiwanese/Chinese folklore.

You’re told almost nothing going in. You learn quickly that you’re the dad of the house and that you have a wife and daughter, but they’re nowhere to be found and some very strange things are happening in your apartment. You’ll have to explore the shifting nightmare that your home has somehow become if you want to find out what the hell is going on, and I can’t really say much more than that without giving things away. Let’s just say that nothing about this situation or your family is what it seems.

Hell, even if I wanted to spoil it for you and tell you what was going on, I might still have a hard time doing so. This is a very surreal story and certain parts of it seem to very open to interpretation. If you want to get the clearest picture of the situation you absolutely need to read the found texts in this one, but on the bright side Devotion isn’t one of those games that goes out of its way to hide vital texts from you in obscure places. They’re all sitting out in plain sight and most of them are pretty much impossible to miss. Trust me though, you’re going to want to read those things to get the full impact of incredibly powerful and depressing ending.

So now what? How are you even supposed to play this game if it’s been wiped from existence? Well, you can wait and see if things change and the game comes back to Steam, but this seems extremely unlikely if the developers have been fired and the time was taken to scour the internet of all the marketing. Frankly, if you really want to play it you’ll probably only be able to do so by venturing into the wilds of the internet and finding it yourself. One way or another though, if you’re a fan of horror you should really do yourself a favor and check this one out someday if you get the chance.

I really hope that developer Red Candle Games doesn’t let this incident hold them back from making more games in the future either, because they’re clearly some very talented people that should have a very bright future in gaming if people would just let them…

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