Devotion is a first-person Taiwanese psychological horror game that draws inspiration from many familiar aspect of the Taiwanese daily life in the 1980s. The theme focuses on traditional Taiwanese practices as well as many folk religions. The game follows the main character in his journey to discover what happened in his home, and the event that leads to the downfall of his family.
Aesthetics: The game has succeeded in faithfully recreating an atmosphere that is very familiar to the Taiwanese, while at the same time introduce many of the cultural aspect of Taiwanese culture to the international player base. The many cultural references and folk religions told through the design of the environment and through collectibles helps to further support the experience of the player. It allows the player to be fully immersed in the story that the game is trying to tell
Story: The story is one of the strong aspect of the game. The game tries to tell a familiar story about a family of famous screenwriter, Feng Yu. Throughout the game, the fate of Feng Yu and his family is slowly revealed, and the purposefully vague memos that the player find during the experience further reinforce the message that the game is trying to convey about the occult and religious practices in 1980s Taiwan.
Mechanics: The game is rather simple in term of mechanic. It is mostly a puzzle solver/ walking simulator with jump scares here and there. It serves rather as a platform to allow the player to explore the beautifully designed environment and to immerse themselves in the experience. The only enemy in the game can one-shot the player, but since there is no life total and the checkpoint system available make this rather trivial, but not to its detriment as it highlights the ‘limbo’ aspect of the game, where the main character is doomed to go through the same environment over and over, until he has atoned for his sin.
Technology: The game was not originally made to be a 3D first person exploration, but in order to deliver the vision of the studio director, the team ended up using Unity to create the very pleasing environment that the player can explore.
The lens of Curiosity: The game is purposefully vague at the beginning, dropping the player in an average apartment in Taiwan in the 1980s. The way that the story is told through memos and imaginary sequences with spirits and ghostly figures further pushes the players on to discover the real truth of the main character. The game never really explains what is happening, instead allowing the player to piece together the nuggets of information to form a complete story, which intrigues the player to go through all the horrors at await.
The lens of Atmosphere: Just like every other psychological horror, Devotion tries to create an atmosphere in which the player can emerge themselves. The familiar aesthetic of a typical Taiwanese apartment which serves as the main setting of the game creates an unique atmosphere where the player feels constantly unease. The game takes something that is familiar to the player, and turns it into a place of horror and danger, thus subverting the player’s expectation in order to more effectively deliver the story as the player can relate more with it.
The lens of Inherent Interest: The game boasts a unique aesthetics of Taiwan in the 1980s. This particular part of history is portrayed through the story of the main character, and it touches on the theme of the occult as well as draws inspiration from many elements of the traditional Taiwanese culture. This would create a distinctive environment for players to experience, which is not commonly seen in contemporary horror games currently on the market.
The lens of Secrets: The game is purposefully designed to let the player experience the main character’s descent into ruin, which is told through bits of information made available to the player gradually. By keeping the story vague at first, the player is encouraged to explore and uncover the secret that plaques the apartment that the player find themselves in.