Developer: Bad Vices Games
Publisher: Troglobytes Games
Genre(s): Indie, Simulator
Platform: Xbox Series X (also available on Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch and PC – Windows)
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 29/04/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
At a glance, Ravenous Devils immediately invokes images of the classic macabre tale of Sweeney Todd. The killing of innocent people in order to cook them into delicious meals for the unsuspecting public makes for a grim, disturbing and yet curious element in this horror cooking simulator. But is this more Demon Barber of Fleet Street, or Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares?
WARNING: this is a PEGI 18 game which contains a lot of violence, as such, some of the screenshots in this review contain gruesome/graphic images.
The Worst Pies in London
Ravenous Devils tells the story of Percival and Hildred, a married couple who have fled their old lives and opened up a tailor shop and a pub in Victorian era London. While Hildred tends to the pub and the cooking of meat based products, it is Percival who provides the ingredients in the form of his tailor shop’s patrons. This is a decision that comes rather quickly and easily to the couple who don’t stop to question the morals around the butcher and cannibalism of the innocent public. The connection to Sweeney Todd is apparent from the first cut scene when it is knowingly mentioned that this place used to belong to a “barber who is now long gone”. Even the attic on the fourth floor bears a striking resemblance to the titular character’s murder room from the 2007 Tim Burton horror musical.
Story-wise, Ravenous Devils is slightly on the lacklustre side. A big chunk of the narrative is told through letters the murderous couple receive from the mysterious MR J. This Mr J is no joker as he sends instruction on targets he wishes Percival and Hildred kill off and cook up, whilst not-so-subtlety hinting that if they fail to comply, the authorities would be alerted to the dastardly duos true pie fillings. There are occasional cut scenes that try to spread out the story but some of these felt like they were included just to pad out the runtime. The scenes are also told through written dialect which is particularly odd as both characters already have voice actors, so I don’t understand why they couldn’t have recorded a few more lines.
Waiter, There’s an Eye in My Soup
In terms of gameplay, you control both Percival and Hildred simultaneously by highlighting selected objects and instructing one of the two to use various items scattered around the premises. The majority of my time was spent downstairs with Hildred doing the lump sum of the work, trying to ensure there was enough food prepped and ready to be served. While Percival kills his victims, dumps them down the trapdoor into the basement kitchen, cleans the blood and fixes the clothes, it is Hildred who is left to dismember the bodies, prepare and cook the food, and sell the ‘people pies’ to the Londoners unlucky enough to step through the pub doors.
Things do get more manageable once you have earned enough money to hire Joshua, the servant boy who helps to serve the pub customers while Hildred can just focus on the cooking. Once I had enough to unlock the fourth floor greenhouse, Percival did finally pull his finger out and do a lot more work. There are other upgrades to make life a little easier, with more space for meal prep, quicker cooking times and more clothing stolen from bodies.
At first I found this to be enjoyable and I genuinely had fun, trying to manage Hildred’s frantic running up and down stairs, trying to keep the pub stocked but on more than one occasion, I found the bodies would pile too high to kill anymore and Percival just stood around while his poor wife did everything. After a few upgrades and more recipes, it did start to pick up again with more variety. I would have preferred more balance in the couple’s work and a quicker upgrade rate, as it started to feel like a grind around the middle. This was especially true at the start of each in-game day, as the monotony of the repetitive meat, tray, flour, oven and serve gameplay gets old really quickly.
Steak and Kidney Pie
I found that Ravenous Devils does have a music and voice issue, in that the same melodramatic tune is playing on a continuous loop and after a while, the repetitiveness started to annoy me rather than fill me with a sense of doom and gloom. The voices are another miss, with Percival’s deep, grumbling weird accent particularly grating. There are only so many times you can slit someone’s throat and hear “there’s blood everywhere!”
Hildred’s is no better with an over-the-top high-pitched shrill, and an exacerbated clearing of the throat whenever you click on things in the wrong sequence, like trying to throw some raw sausage meat in the oven without placing it on a tray first. You can tell that the actors had tried to match the character models they were presented with but it does start to filter into caricature territory. The sound effects, on the other hand, are beautifully disgusting, with each body being forced into the meat machines making a satisfying crunch and squelch of bones and flesh being broken down.
A Palate Cleanser
Ravenous Devils never really feels like a challenge, I was never caught in the act of murdering a client and I never had any negative impacts on the shop’s popularity or income. The game is an interesting concept that could have been more fleshed out in terms of story. Maybe add some more rooms as each individual business grows, or even have the local bobby’s start to sniff around, investigating the many, many disappearances.
This is present in the recently included Endless Mode, where there is a real risk of having the police catch you in the act of mopping up another pool. They have also added new skins for Percival and Hildred which are purely cosmetic and can be purchased from the store’s profits. I can also praise the polish of the game, I only experienced one visual bug during my whole play through when I tried to pick up a body and it started floating about two feet away from Percival.
Food for Thought
If you are looking to kill a few hours and don’t mind a slow upgrade system, Ravenous Devils can be enjoyable in short bursts. After a few continuous hours, I was getting a little bored with the repetitiveness and the voices but I always found myself booting it up again to get that next day completed and unlock that next oven. Apart from an unbalanced workload between the couple and a slow upgrade system it can be a kind of fun time. You can pick it up relatively cheap, which is always a nice bonus and it will definitely appeal to some with its quirky mix of violence and management style gameplay.
Rapid Reviews Rating
2.5 out of 5
You can buy Ravenous Devils from the Microsoft Store.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.