Devotion lifted every hair on my body and made me question my decision to play it within the first few minutes of entering its twisted world. When I defied the dangers, I understood why it got recognition when it first launched in February 2019. Unfortunately, just days after that initial release, the game was dragged out of online stores after a controversy over an in-game joke at the expense of China’s President. Two years later, developer Red Candle Games finally made Devotion available again. Horror fans who missed it the first time shouldn’t wait. Surrender is a terrifying and unforgettable adventure that deserves its reputation.
Most of that disturbing experience is exploring a small apartment in Taiwan for several years in the 1980s. You will learn the tragic story of a family torn apart by marital unrest, professional setbacks, and the stress of raising a chronically ill child. The gameplay consists of collecting clues and items to solve a series of well-made (and sometimes interconnected) puzzles that are satisfactory yet stressful to solve, knowing that something scary is usually around the next corner. Movement is intentional without feeling slow, and there is a reason; Every time I turned around, I was tense as I braced myself for the worst – and found it often.
The psychological fears of surrender will keep you on your toes and do a great job while maintaining impressive creativity. The apartment changes every year, so new types of fear keep popping up, whether it’s such a blatant birthday party or an elaborate mechanical diorama sequence. Thanks to the fantastic sound design (headphones I recommend), just hearing doors slam or windows rattling from a thunderstorm is enough to hold your breath in anticipation of the worst. Devotion loves playing around with your mind and it made me so nervous that I jumped on things that weren’t even there because the atmosphere is so oppressive.
As miserable as I often felt as I stepped into the next terrifying iteration of that cursed apartment, I love and admire Devotion’s dedication to putting your pants off without engaging in cheap or largely predictable tactics. This is an elegantly designed haunted house that seems to know the perfect moments to step the pedal on the horror before kicking back, but never completely cutting off the gas. I also respect that devotion is not a one-trick pony. The story finally dares to venture beyond small boundaries into otherworldly environments, but loses some of its clout in the process. However, I like how the puzzle design evolves into more freeform scenarios after starting out linearly.
Devotion may be terrifying, but it also offers a compelling narrative with a surprising amount of heart. The story is ultimately about a child who, in addition to their own problems, copes with terrible parents, and their fears made me sympathetic while also creating another, more reliable trauma: the fear of losing your family. You don’t want this poor kid to be harmed, especially after a fantastic, quirky sequence in which you read their favorite story book together. Those lighter moments aren’t abundant, but they’re great for you to exhale a bit. They also demonstrate the skills of Red Candles when it comes to confusing adventure with different game ideas.
The devotion ends before it runs out of steam, making it a huddled house of horror worth defying. It’s a shame the game has been inaccessible to gamers for as long as it has been, but now you can enjoy one of the scariest titles in recent history. If you can muster the courage, you will be rewarded with a wonderfully disturbing experience that deserves a chance to scare a wider audience.