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Dere Evil Exe review - Retro platformer that bursts through the fourth wall

For: iPad   Also on: iPhone
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Super Meta Boy

Product: Dere Evil Exe | Format: iPad | Genre: Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Dere Evil Exe is a game that wants to make you hurt, but it also wants to make you smile. Often at the same time.

It's also a bit of a smarty pants show off, busting through the fourth wall at will and liberally scattering gaming references over everything.

It makes for a bizarre, frustrating, sinister, and faintly exhausting experience. In other words, it left me with mixed feelings.

Meaty portal

Despite its oddball nature, Dere Evil Exe is surprisingly easy to describe: Super Meat Boy meets Portal just about covers it.

The game's hardcore and slightly grisly pixel-art platforming made me think of the former game, although the levels scroll along like Mario - if Mario had ingested the wrong kind of mushroom - and work in puzzle elements.

The key twist here is a computerised narrator that's just like GLaDOS from Portal. Not only is AIDE's delivery deadpan and slightly sinister, but it provides vital instructions as to the challenges you'll face ahead.

And you'll need such instruction. How else would you know that you really shouldn't collect any coins, as they'll make you explode?

Another brick in the fourth wall

Dere Evil Exe works hard to upset expectations. Levels are scattered with messages from the developer, including how long it took him to make the game, as well as admonishments when you fail to listen to AIDE.

After a particularly gruelling section that killed me multiple times, I was amused to find the knowing text "I don't want to do that again. It changed me." on the wall of the next section.

Earlier, in between levels, I had played brief snippets of entirely different games, including a Final Fantasy pastiche and the briefest of riffs on a Breakout game.

Both hint at a warped reality, where the true virtue of your quest is in serious question.

Smarty pants

Dere Evil Exe is perhaps a little too smart and knowing for its own good, though. Like a snarky teen whose sarcasm loses its intended edge with overuse, the game occasionally gets lost in a constant stream of 'aha!' moments.

The storytelling, meanwhile, has so many red herrings and unorthodox flourishes that it's hard to follow what exactly is going on.

It takes a surprising turn for the dark and sinister too, with elements that almost make it feel more like a survival horror game than a retro platformer.

But it's hard to sustain the necessary suspense and pacing - let alone a narrative thread - when you're having to repeat a tricky sequence of platforms again and again.

Woolly jumper

The platforming itself is something of a mixed bag too. The virtual controls seem a little woolly, with not quite enough digital precision or reliability for the level of challenge on offer.

Meanwhile, the game's exaggerated physics are a little too floaty and over-the-top, while the hit box detection also seems a little too punishing.

It all results in a game that's interesting rather than irresistible. Dere Evil Exe has all makings of a cult favourite, but it's not quite tight enough to be the nailed-on breakout hit that you sense it could be.
Dere Evil Exe review - Retro platformer that bursts through the fourth wall
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 11 July 2018
Dere Evil Exe is full of clever flourishes and knowing winks, but the hardcore platformer underneath it all is a little too scruffy for its own good
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