From its cost and mobile roots to the use of simple polygons, David is deceptively simple but, at the same time, much deeper under the surface.
From the off, David is dripping with biblical reference from the titular hero to a smattering of the seven deadly sins that make up some the doorways to the nine levels, but it’s never an overt message, just a thread to loosely string parts together. It’s an interesting idea to hang a game on, however, particularly one like this, where the graphics steer you towards using your own imagination to fill the gaps.
The enemies are loosely strung together, physically speaking, formed from a collection of small triangles which move in ways that will make you swear that you saw a tiger or a shark. Levels hint at water, lasers and take on the feel of Joust or the urgency of being chased by a monster around a maze. David himself is just a small box within a circle, but the introduction serves to give him far more personality than his physical form would.
Movement is basic but wonderfully designed to challenge on initial playthroughs. Jumping only really works while moving left and right and feels floaty, while your weapon only works when you stop trying to move, allowing gravity to slowly bring you back down to earth and to the waiting polygons of your enemy. Moving the mouse pointer to the centre of David’s encompassing circle is a tough task while he’s moving around, but it’s also imperative that it stays there until the ‘weapon’ is ready to fire (denoted by a box emanating from the centre).
First impressions are that the game is over all too quickly on the standard difficulty level, but really this is just the beginning. Completing these levels provides a much needed sense of achievement early on, spurring the player on to face the much harder difficulty and the endless arena level, which opens once the gates have all been completed on easy.
Each level is designed to be a boss battle in itself, the developer cites Shadow of the Colossus as an inspiration and it’s easy to see why. To get the best chance of beating a level and coming out alive, you need to understand both the weak points of the enemy and how to beat it. The game gives you very little to work on, deliberately so, and it may take several attempts (or more) before the whole thing clicks into place. Even then, it’s not the easiest of tasks to beat some of these levels, even in easy mode.
Complete them on the harder of the two difficulty levels, however, and the main large gate will open, leading to a huge boss battle that puts all the previous battles in the shade. A scoring system ensures that those who are into score chasing will have something to replay the game for.
Thanks to the varied gameplay of each level and the arena mode, plus the excellent hidden basketball level, David is a far longer game than it looks and offers at least some replayability. If you’re looking for a unique and rewarding indie game with some great level design then go pick up David now.