We Know The Devil is a horror game about being the odd friend out

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We Know The Devil is a visual novel about three friends consigned to a miserable Christian summer camp. Eventually they'll have to confront the Devil, which might just be allegorical for how, in a group of three, two will always bond a little more closely.

The game is written and designed by Aevee Bee of ZEAL fame, with art by the wonderful Mia Schwartz. I'm a sucker for the nostalgic aesthetic, which sees 90s-style photography and grunge art mashed up with the "magical girl story" influences of anime like Sailor Moon, plus a synth soundtrack by Alec Lambert.

And the concept is neat: The unpleasant summer camp, populated by unbearably-normal staff and grating peers, seems to be a place where the bad kids (being particularly in need of discipline, possibly also considered disposable) get exiled in order to do combat with the Devil. Remember your adolescent summers, and the strangely-intense interrelationships and betrayals of that age? The things that happened among all of you without you ever really understanding: That felt like devilry, didn't it?

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The game makes some unusual choices with the visual novel format that suggest to me it's more suited to people who 'speak this language' already, or who have a lot of experience with the roles and arcs of these kinds of games. For example, where normally you'd be guiding a character toward your own ideal romantic outcome, here you don't 'play as' anyone—you act as a sort of unseen arbiter, choosing who to get to know, choosing who should go with whom. Without the anchoring concept of 'being a person' with your own objective, I found myself wishing the game (as more conventional visual novels do) took its time to ground me in the world and circumstance, and that it introduced me to the characters more directly, by drawing their traits one at a time through behavior and description, rather than through quick-cycling among snippets of their nature.

I think the game's use of non-essential dialogue (neither necessarily characterizing someone nor moving the story or highlighting its theme) makes you feel like you're watching strangers Tweet amongst themselves, which is an interesting choice, but skipping between so many quick bites among three people before you've had time to know and distinguish them can make it sometimes confusing to read, follow and invest in. I had to make my first pairing choice long before I had an idea, beyond broad visual strokes, of what kind of person each character was.

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What the game excels at, though, is creating unique, believable characters that make just the right canvas for "shipping" with one another or other visual novel characters, or for doing fanfic and fanart about (and from what I've seen on social media, people are already doing this).

You can join the fun for $6.66 on DateNighto.com, where you can play the game on nearly any platform you like and keep your saves.

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