Let’s get one thing clear before we go any further: Daggerhood is tough. Brutally so. Even though I admit my reflexes aren’t as quick as they used to be, I can normally cope with almost all games. Daggerhood, however, has been an incredibly punishing challenge.
Like a fantasy themed Super Meat Boy or Awesome Pea, Daggerhood’s protagonist leaps around brief but very challenging levels filled with spikes, enemies, treasure and traps. When attacking, your character throws a dagger. Pressing the attack button again while the dagger is still in motion (it has a relatively limited range) sees your character teleporting to the weapon’s position. Though there’s a few extra challenges on each level to get the highest rating (collecting all pieces of treasure and completing the level in a target time, for example) – as well as a Fairy, which appears very briefly when the level begins and which you often need to specifically head for if you want any chance of catching it – the basic premise for most levels remains the same: get to the exit in one piece!
One hit or misstep will cause you to go straight back to the beginning of the level. As mentioned above, it’s a very tough game.
It’s time for me to confess something. Despite the time I’ve racked up in playing Daggerhood, I didn’t feel comfortable in labelling this as a review. It’d feel somewhat disingenuous for me to do so, given that I’ve not managed to get past the first boss at level 20. Believe me, I’ve tried. Over and over again without success. I even posted a gameplay video of my best run on Twitter; I was promptly told that I needed to react faster when using the teleportation ability. I was pretty disheartened by this, given that my middle aged reflexes were already being pushed to the limit by the game. It sounds so simple: you just have to outrun the oversized creature to win! However, the punishingly brutal level design really has caused me to lose all momentum and – I’m almost ashamed to say – lose the will to progress.
In any case, though I’ve hit that rather large block to my progression, I had been really enjoying what I managed to see of Daggerhood. The pixel art style has a nice level of polish and is more than competent; the sound is excellent, though the soundtrack accompanying the levels is somewhat repetitive. From a gameplay perspective – difficulty aside – there’s never any doubt about what you need to do or where you need to go next; carrying out your plan is a different matter, of course.
These may or may not be my final thoughts on Daggerhood; it all hinges on whether or not I can push myself to outrun that maddeningly difficult first boss. In short though, I’d highly recommend Daggerhood, but only if you’re up for a severe challenge. Your mileage – and by mileage, I really mean your patience and tolerance for repeating levels until you achieve even the most basic of objectives – may vary.
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