We Know the Devil

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I’ve had We Know the Devil sitting around in my Steam library since 2016, which I probably got from the Halloween sale that year. I kept putting off playing it since that’s what anyone with a large Steam library does, but I thought, “hey, I’m doing this Pride Month thing, I should finally get around to playing it.”

We Know the Devil takes place at a summer camp dedicated to fighting the devil. The story follows the antics of Jupiter, Neptune and Venus as they get to learn about each other and themselves in a nice coming-of-age story. That also happens to be a horror. This story is brought to us by Aevee Bee and Mia Schwartz, under Date Nighto (who was also behind Hustle Cat).

[As always, spoilered text is put through ROT13]

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The story is structured in hour segments, starting in a late afternoon that feels a bit like a slice-of-life and progressing toward the early morning, with the tone gradually getting more tense and openly embracing horror. It feels like a natural tone progression; I mean, why wouldn’t spooky shit happen at like 3 a.m.? An odd thing about the narration is that it has a first-person view, referring to the group as “we,” yet still referring to the main characters by name, leaving the narrator ambiguous. I’m not sure if it’s a conscious choice or a mistake. As for the writing, it does its job for being a horror story with some teens. The characters joke around, having conversations that feel like the ones I have with friends on Discord, sometimes ignoring proper capitalization and punctuation rules; meanwhile, they also have awkward conversations about each other, just shooting the shit and figuring out their place in the world. Then there’s the narration and the writing toward the end of the game that’s semi-cryptic prose, the presence of the devil bringing out flowery ramblings.

As for the narration thing I mentioned, the reason why I feel it may have been an intentional choice is because of the game’s aesthetics. There’s this sense of unease with the game’s visual style. The backgrounds are all photographs that have the essence of internet cursed photos, locations framed like horror movie sets. As for the characters, they’re nice animesque drawings (save for the bit characters that are drawn more goofy), but they’re all monochrome, which feels off compared to the colorful surroundings. There’s this feeling I had throughout the game that nothing seemed right, which fits well with the story’s tone in the late game and I feel that the narration could be intentional to fuel that disconnect. It’s like if somebody’s horror zine evolved into game form, which is an aesthetic that I dig.

Tying the atmosphere together is the soundtrack, by Alec Lambert. Harsh noise and horror synths dominate the soundtrack, a backdrop to the mysterious and uneasy vibes the writing and visuals already give off. I think it might be a bit strange to hear this kind of music during the story’s downtimes, but overall, the music contributes a lot to We Know the Devil‘s identity.

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There is no definitive perspective character, with the possibility of spending equal time with all three characters. They are all distanced in some ways from society as well as the other campers, their commitment to this strange religious war feeling forced or obligated more than anything. This detachment could be representative of the disconnect between religion and being queer, the paths revealing that the girls love each other, though they aren’t open about it and are still figuring things out. [Naq V pbhag Irahf jura V fnl “gur tveyf.” Va n srj raqvatf, Irahf pnfhnyyl erirnyf urefrys gb or n tvey. Ab, guvf vfa’g fbzr pebffqerffvat gbar-qrns abafrafr yvxr Crefban 4 be Qnatnaebacn, Irahf rffragvnyyl pbzrf bhg nf n genaf tvey, rkcerffvat ure qvfyvxr sbe ure obql va gur gehr raqvat. V nqzver vg, gubhtu nf n erfhyg,] I caution that anyone that hates spoilers not look up character fanart until they’ve finished the game, because boy they’re pretty casual about spoilers. On a personal note, I consider Neptune my favorite character. She feels like the type of person I would have looked up to when I was younger, all tough yet funny and caring. She is also kind of a bad influence but who gives a shit.

The path to getting one of the game’s endings is fascinating to me because it goes against what would be considered normal. Instead of the ending path being for whoever you hung out with the most, the ending is for whoever you spent the least amount of time with, the devil going after the most neglected and vulnerable.

[Nf sbe gur gehr raqvat, trggvat gur gehr raqvat zrnaf abg artyrpgvat nalbar. Gur tveyf, shyyl haqrefgnaqvat rnpu bgure… qrpvqr gb rzoenpr gur qrivy gbtrgure. Ubjrire, vg’f abg arprffnevyl n onq guvat. Sbe n ohapu bs fbpvny bhgpnfgf gelvat gb svther bhg gurve cynpr va gur jbeyq, jub orggre gb gnxr pbzsbeg va guna gur bevtvany erory? Jvgu guvf va zvaq, creuncf gur bgure raqvatf pbhyq unir tbar qvssreragyl. Gur ubeebe gung gur bgure gjb punenpgref rkcrevrapr gbjneq gur guveq orvat gnxra ol gur qrivy znl unir orra zvgvtngrq vs gurl haqrefgbbq gurve sryybj, vs gurl xarj gur guvatf gung obgurerq ure. Gurl pbhyq unir haqrefgbbq rnpu bgure naq erfvfgrq gur eryvtvbhf qbtzn gung yrq gb gurz univat gb fynl gurve sryybj. Vg’f n gehr raqvat gung syvcf lbhe guvaxvat ba gur bgure barf, gheavat gurz sebz ovggrefjrrg gb onq, yrnivat xabjvat gur qrivy gb or gur bayl gehr tbbq bar. Unvy gur qrivy, V thrff.]

We Know the Devil is a short game to go through, but it’s a captivating few hours. Looking back, it’s something that felt minimalist in scope. The cast is kept as small as possible and the game doesn’t dwell too much on worldbuilding, only providing enough to provide a good glimpse into a world where there are devil fighting summer camps. It’s an approach that creates something short and sweet that ends on an open note.

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On the Date Nighto site, you can get the game for a glorious $6.66. It’s $7.99 on Steam, though it is currently on sale for $1.99, so like, why not get it at this point?

 

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