The Devil's Eight is a musical boss rush based on Super Smash Bros.

The Devil’s Eight is a neon-lit, music-driven boss rush that’s set in the circles of Hell and features 2D combat inspired by Super Smash Bros. It went to Kickstarter last week, seeking $32,000 in funding to bring developer Second Step Studios' vision to life.

“The music inspires the visuals and design choices for each boss and circle of Hell,” the Kickstarter reads. “The AI for the Overseers is powered by the beat, meaning boss actions sync up with the music.” 

Footage of the game’s ‘Lust’ boss fight (above) helps illustrate how this system works. The visualizer in the background represents a boss’ health, and as they get weaker, their attacks grow more intense in time with the beat. Levels themselves are revolving, circular planes—essentially carousels—and also evolve as fights progress and the music changes.

However, Second Step says this isn’t a rhythm game. Instead of timed inputs, fights are built around the freeform movements of the Super Smash Bros. series. Players must jump, slide, fast-fall, and dash to evade bullet hell-style attacks and navigate bright, trippy levels and platforms. 

Critically, the playable character has no means of attacking. Instead, The Devil’s Eight gives you a shield to reflect boss attacks, which seems to be the only means of dealing damage. So combat is built around carefully timed blocks as well as jumps. 

“The game is hard,” Second Step says. “Descending through Hell, every Overseer will attack the player in new and unexpected ways. They demand different play styles to best and force players to master new skills. For example, if you are a more defensive player, you might do well against Limbo, but have a harder time on Heresy."

The first game from Second Step Studios, The Devil’s Eight began as the senior project of designer Ruben Telles, who recently graduated from the game design program at University of California, Santa Cruz. In fact, the studio was founded by six UC Santa Cruz graduates, though only Telles and his partner Leland Dawson are working on The Devil’s Eight. They’ve been at it for more than a year, and turned to Kickstarter to ramp up production and fund a more ambitious soundtrack. 

The trailers released thus far are a bit rough around the edges, but even in this very early stage, The Devil’s Eight is an audio-visual spectacle. The aesthetic is novel, and the combat gives off some distinctly Furi vibes. It’s definitely one to watch.