Time management games are big business in the so-called ‘casual’ market. They take the activity juggling aspects of RTS games and streamline them down to a simple but compulsive gaming loop, often tying this to family friendly or light-hearted settings and storylines to match their target demographics. Ravenous Devils is a welcome exception to these rules, both in its penny dreadful atmosphere and its release across more traditional gaming platforms. Having experienced its bloody delights, I’m dying to fill you in on the details.
I played Ravenous Devils on both PC and Switch, with the main difference between the two formats being loading times. The gameplay loop is perhaps better suited to a handheld experience, but it translates well to a more static setting. Whichever way you play it, you’ll be set for a surprisingly engaging game that’ll please and disgust you in equal measures. If nothing else, it’s always a refreshing change to play as the villains.
Said villains are husband and wife, Percival and Hildred, who have purchased a building in Victorian London after arriving in somewhat mysterious circumstances. The building is not so subtly hinted as having belonged to the Demon Barber himself, Sweeney Todd, with the most obvious evidence for this is the convenient trapdoor that leads from the upstairs shop straight down to the cellar. It isn’t long before the two titular devils begin to make good use of that trapdoor to make their fortune. Percival sets up a tailor’s shop in order to provide the nouveau riche of London with swanky threads, whilst Hildred takes over the infamous bakery of Mrs Lovett, and continues it in the same bloody vein.
Running the two shops simultaneously requires you to quickly prioritise and juggle between looking after customers and organising the stock. Fortunately these are closely connected as the customers are the stock – both in terms of recycling their clothes into new outfits and literally as you slice, mince and bake their tasty flesh into a variety of meaty recipes. Your options increase as you level up and, alongside this, so do the multitasking challenges.
While there isn’t a huge amount going on graphically, what there is looks good, with a suitably dirty ambience and some epically gruesome animations. The latter never really lose their savage effect despite the frankly absurd number of London’s residents you’ll be stabbing, chopping up and cooking. Sound effects are also suitably visceral although the repeated voice lines do become a little annoying after a while.
There is a suitably grisly plot running through the game too, as the murderous couple find that someone knows the secret to their success and proceeds to blackmail them into serving his needs. This takes the form of specific targets to murder and also provides a few tasty twists and turns along the way. As you work through the story you’ll also have the chance to upgrade your equipment and recipes to maximise your daily profit in order to make more profit in typical management game fashion. This aspect of the game provides the main challenge, but it can be a little counter-productive as upgrading also makes things more difficult by giving you have more task to juggle – especially once you buy tables to serve visiting customers. This leads to specific orders being made rather than bulk cooking and can make the game more fiddly than fun.