David. is what happens when biblical theology is applied to an abstract arcade game.
In this it largely loses the importance or substance of its inspiration, that being the story of David and Goliath, the miniature farmer’s boy who toppled a giant, using it mostly as an interesting mechanical hook rather than a meaningful plot. You’re placed into varying challenges as the tiny block, David, and must use your slingshot to dismantle the geometric behemoths whose attack patterns are vaguely tied to level names derived from concepts of sin and fear.
Unfortunately David. rather lost me the more discombobulated its design becomes in its attempts at variety and tying itself to a plot that doesn’t exist. I applaud developer Fermenter for creating a game based on things they clearly deeply believe, but they only lay the groundwork for a deeper meaning and then leave it languishing somewhere between an implied connection and so clearly laid out it loses its point. The lack of any subtlety or consistency in tone made it difficult for me to become invested in the game, or even just take it seriously most of the time.
There’s a similarly muddy situation among David.’s different levels, which can be brilliant but more often hinge on a frustrating gimmick which disrupts the natural flow of the game’s best moments. More issues arrive through David.’s bizarre controls, which have an unwieldy momentum to them that runs counter to the often brutally tight level designs. On the normal difficulty it’s a nuisance, but David. goes a step further and requires you beat every stage with a single sliver of health in order to unlock the final boss, a task I doubt I need to tell you the tediousness of.
There are genuinely novel ideas within David. like it’s interesting use of a slingshot or the asymmetrical boss fights (ala Shadow of the Colossus), but it can’t seem to see them well enough not to go running in the wrong direction. Completing it left me with an empty feeling I couldn’t quite explain, my only guess being sadness that David.’s worst enemy ended up being itself.
"Quick Thoughts" is a subset of my normal reviews for smaller games which might not fit into a full review but I still have something to say about.