Review – Streets of Red: Devil’s Dare Deluxe

Most modern games do a lot to make players feel comfortable so they can enjoy a good narrative with moderate difficulty and fairly forgiving risk/reward systems. But, this game wants to remind you that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows here. Welcome back to to the brutal days of 90’s gaming culture.

Streets of Red: Devil’s Dare Deluxe is a throwback, indie, arcade beat-em up from developer Secret Base. And, they make sure that you’re fully aware of that “throwback” status from the very first splash screen which will plunge any old school gamer immediately into the land of nostalgia. I actually considered revealing what it is to be a spoiler so, I won’t take that moment of nostalgic bliss away from potential buyers.

The game starts you off at the “Benny Arcade Expo (*wink, wink*)”, at the beginning of a zombie outbreak. The very noticeable aspect of the visuals are the charmingly rendered 2D, old school sprites which immediately brought me back to my NES days of games like River City Ransom or Mega Man. The novelty of the game’s sepia filter is a classic representation of old black and white zombie movies with the stylistic addition of red to highlight some gorier details, blue to represent pick ups, and an occasional splash of additional color representing little highlights such as the “FINISH HIM” that appears over the heads of defeated foes. I’d have liked to have seen a more colorful palette like in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World for instance but, I get why they chose this style.

With 4 different characters to play as and 2 additional unlockable characters, the gameplay varies based off of the player you choose. Each character will don cosplay outfits of familiar figures in gaming history as you select them and they all have their individual strengths and weaknesses based off of their chosen cosplay role. I mean, it is a gaming convention after all. Unfortunately and curiously in this day and age, there’s no option for online multiplayer at the moment so, you may want to grab a few close friends to violate your personal space to get the most out of your gameplay experience. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for this feature in a future update.

You can choose to play either Arcade Mode or Survival Mode. Arcade Mode is the standard beat-em up campaign with each level endearingly rendered as very recognizable environments from classic games on the NES ending with equally identifiable boss fights. The end of each level rewards you with options for ability upgrades for your player like extended combos, increased health, or stronger defense which you can purchase with in-game currency (as in: NO microtransactions). Be conscious of how you spend your money, though. As keeping with the arcade theme of the game, revivals cost money. The more you die, the more it will cost you. There are no continues and the game will even delete your save file if you don’t fork up the cash so, “GIT GUD“!

Survival Mode is the unrelentless, unforgiving section of the game that will start off easy but then quickly ramp up in difficulty, throwing wave after wave of enemies at you. The game’s varied enemies also require different tactics to defeat making it progressively punishing over time.

The music is just kind of “ok”. Its hard to pay attention to the score playing on the background when you’re surrounded by hoards of incoming monsters. Ultimately, it’s not memorable enough for me to be humming any of the chiptune melodies in my head while I’m taking a shower (I still do hum some Mega Man songs, though). If you’ve ever played any Capcom brawler in the days of the NES/SNES, the sound design is very familiar, and you will certainly hear a lot of throwback phrases uttered from games such as TMNT: Arcade, Mortal Kombat, and the Street Fighter franchise.

At first. I wasn’t terribly fond of this game. I don’t like indies, don’t like old school beat-em ups anymore, and don’t like cheesy throwback jokes. However, Streets of Red: Devil’s Dare Deluxe slowly managed to reel me in with a charm I’ve certainly underestimated. Its seems that studio, Secret Base, has taken a lot of effort to make almost every detail of the experience a reference of games, movies, and media that we all know and love. It’s a short game but, it does have a lot of replay value. I almost wish I got the Switch version though because it seems like the kind of game I’d play on the toilet until my legs went numb instead of on my TV. Now let me go check if it’s in the Android marketplace.

Graphics: 6.0

Charming NES style sprites with gory pixelated violence but, presented with a very limited palette.

Gameplay: 7.0

Classic arcade, combo driven beat-em up. It’s familiar and simplistic with its own individual twists

Sound: 6.0

Everything you would expect with a NES/SNES brawler with a few charming nods and references.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Any fan of the genre will enjoy it. Although the campaign is short there’s, plenty of replay value

Final Verdict: 7.0

Reviewed on PS4.
Streets of Red: Devil’s Dare Deluxe is available now on PS4 and Switch

A copy of Streets of Red: Devil’s Dare Deluxe was provided by the publisher.