Growing up mostly in the 1990s I kind of grew up in the golden era of platformers. In particular I was the perfect age for the rise of the 3D “mascot” era of platformers which were easily my favorite genre of video games at that time. With most major publishers ignoring the genre entirely, I am always intrigued to check out a new game from the genre made by indie studios. Today I am looking at Demon Turf which immediately reminded me of the mascot collect-a-thon era of platformers. Demon Turf is a great homage to the early era of 3D platformers which will delight fans of the genre.
In Demon Turf you play as the young demon of only 1,000 years Beebz. One night while sleeping her dreams are interrupted by the Demon King who is just an overall jerk. This pushes Beebz too far where she decides that it is finally time to take the throne for herself. Before you can face off against the Demon King though, she must face off against the leaders of the various demon factions to increase her power/influence to eventually take on the king.
In many ways Demon Turf reminds me a lot of platformers from the PlayStation 1/2 era. The game is divided into a number of worlds with each having their own theme and unique mechanics. Each world has its own boss that you must defeat. To face off against the boss though you will have to visit a number of subworlds which are basically different levels that you have to complete. The objective of each level is to collect the battery at the end. Hidden throughout the levels are other collectibles which you can use to purchase upgrades for your character or cosmetic changes.
I would say that about 80-90% of the gameplay revolves around platforming. Your character has a double jump which eventually becomes a sort of glide as you turn into a bat. You also have access to a spin move which helps you float in the air for a while. You will use these abilities to jump between platforms and avoid obstacles on your way to reaching the exit portal. As you face off against the various bosses you will receive additional abilities such as a grappling hook. These are adapted in to the platforming to give you even more ways to traverse gaps.
If you have ever played a 3D platformer you should basically know what to expect from this aspect of the game. While the game has its own flair and unique twists on the formula, the platforming is very similar to most 3D platformers. Demon Turf doesn’t revolutionize the genre in any meaningful ways, but I don’t really think it had to. This is because the game is great at what it is trying to be. The game in many ways feels like an homage to the older era of 3D platformers that you don’t see all that often these days. The game knows what this audience wants and it does a good job giving it to you.
I think the platforming succeeds for two main reasons. First the controls are generally good. There are a couple of instances where the controls aren’t quite responsive enough. This mostly has to do with some of the special abilities such as the grappling hook not always activating when you think they should. Otherwise the controls work really well. The jumping and floating/gliding mechanics feel good. They are easy to pick up and you can immediately start completing some impressive feats of platforming. There really isn’t much more you could have asked for with regards to the controls.
The other area where the platforming really excels is due to the level designs themselves. Each world has its own unique theme and each individual level has its own style inside that theme. Some levels are pretty flat relying on a lot of horizontal movement. Others rely on a lot of vertical movement as you climb structures. I think the level design works well because it does a good job switching between its various mechanics so you aren’t forced to do the same things over and over again. The level design is creative even mixing in some occasional puzzles. While you basically do the same things in most of the levels, the game does a really good job making each level feel unique.
While the platforming elements are pretty similar to every other game from the genre, there is one area where Demon Turf does somewhat differentiate itself. Instead of having fixed checkpoints which you activate as soon as you reach them, Demon Turf actually lets you choose your own checkpoint locations. There are some limits to this as you can only place them on firm ground. I am not sure if I have ever played a game before where you can place your own checkpoints outside of saving and reloading. I love this idea since it allows you to place a checkpoint before sections of the level that you find challenging. If you fail in completing the section you will be brought back to right before the area where you failed. After completing the section you can place down another checkpoint and not have to ever worry about completing that section of the level ever again. I loved this mechanic and kind of wonder why it really hasn’t been used in other games before. I will say that you need to be choosy on where you place checkpoints though as you are only given a limited number each level. Should you use all of them, you won’t be able to place any other checkpoints for the rest of the level.
At this point it is probably time that I finally talk about the game’s other main mechanic. While not nearly as prevalent as the platforming, the game does feature some combat. The combat deviates quite a bit from your typical game though. The game gives you a ranged punch attack which you can either fire in quick bursts or you can charge it up to make it more powerful. This attack will hit enemies and push them back. You and the enemies don’t have typical health like most games. Instead the only way you or enemies die in combat is by being pushed off platforms falling to your death, or being pushed into glowing red spikes which kill you instantly. Most of the combat involves an arena system where you have to defeat all of the enemies to unlock the path forward.
While the platforming is by far the biggest element of the game, I was actually intrigued by the combat. The emphasis on pushing enemies into obstacles instead of just depleting their health was an interesting twist. I generally liked the combat as it is fun. I preferred the platforming elements of the game, but the combat usually worked as a good diversion to break up the platforming sections.
The last element of the game that I haven’t really talked about yet are the boss fights. At the end of each of the worlds you will face off against a boss. Each boss has its own unique attack pattern as well as a way to defeat them. Before each boss fight you are given a new ability and a brief tutorial section which teaches you how to use it. The key to defeating each boss relies on utilizing this new ability to exploit the bosses weakness. The boss fights do differ from one another and can be pretty fun. There are sections of some of the fights that can be a little frustrating, but I thought they were generally a good addition to the game.
At this point I want to talk about the game’s difficulty. I want to preface this by saying that I play a lot of platformers, but I also wouldn’t consider myself to be an expert or a speedrunner by any means. I found the game to be moderately difficult. Some of the levels are definitely easier than others. Unless you are an expert at this genre you will miss jumps and die in other ways. There isn’t much punishment in the game for dying as you are just sent back to the last checkpoint that you activated. Thus management of your checkpoints will impact the game’s difficulty. You kind of only want to place a checkpoint after completing a very difficult section of a level or if you haven’t placed one in a while. If you don’t manage your checkpoints well, you won’t be able to place any towards the end of the level or you might be stuck replaying a large section of the level. Generally I would say that the game is fair by giving you a challenge while also avoiding becoming frustrating.
Lets move onto the game’s theme and atmosphere. I generally thought the game did a pretty good job in this area. The story is pretty straightforward and basic, but the characters are pretty interesting. The game’s atmosphere is really interesting as it blends 2D and 3D elements. All of the characters and enemies in the game are 2D in a hand drawn style. Meanwhile the worlds themselves are completely 3D. The dichotomy between the 2D and 3D elements creates a really interesting atmosphere for the game. I would say that the worlds are a little too dreary, but otherwise I really liked the game’s atmosphere.
As for Demon Turf’s length I would say that it is quite good. It will somewhat depend on how you approach the game though. The main gameplay basically involves getting the battery in each level which is used to unlock the boss battles. If you just focus on beating the game it will obviously take less time that if you actually try to collect everything in each level. Most of the levels are pretty large where it will take at least a couple minutes to beat if you know what you are doing. Your first attempt will likely take longer especially if you try to find all of the collectibles. On top of this the game has a lot of optional content. After you beat each world you unlock an alternative version of each level which gives you new challenges to complete. The game also features a number of side quests which includes a photo challenge and a sort of golf mini game. If you want to rush through the game I think it may take you around 10-15 hours to complete it. If you try to get all of the collectibles though, I think it will take considerably more time. If you are a fan of 3D platformers you should easily get your money’s worth out of the game.
I genuinely liked a lot about Demon Turf. Probably the biggest complaint that I had with the game is that it seems to rely pretty heavily on the collect-a-thon mechanic. Much of the gameplay comes from finding all of the collectibles found in each of the levels. A lot of these collectibles are optional as they are only used for upgrades/character customization. A lot of the gameplay comes from collecting things. This is usually pretty fun as I have always liked this genre. I kind of wish the game had a little more to it though rather than it relying so much on just collecting objects scattered throughout each level.
The only other issue I had with the game is that some of the levels can be a little hard to navigate. Most of the levels are pretty straightforward where you know where you need to go next. There are some levels where it isn’t quite as easy to figure out where you have to go next though. I will admit that I temporarily got lost in a couple of levels. I eventually figured out where I had to go, but I did end up wasting some time until I figured out the right path forward.
It is not quite perfect but I really enjoyed playing Demon Turf. The game is pretty similar to your typical game from the genre released in the collect-a-thon era of platformers. The platforming might not revolutionize the genre, but it works because the controls are pretty tight and the level design is really good. The addition of being able to choose the location of checkpoints is also a really nice addition. The combat is pretty unique as it relies on pushing enemies into dangers rather than depleting their health. There is a lot of gameplay packed into the game and most of it is quite fun. The game’s atmosphere is quite interesting as well. The only real problem that I had with the game is that it relies on the collect-a-thon mechanics a little too often. A couple of the levels are kind of easy to get lost in as well.
My recommendation for Demon Turf is quite straightforward. Do you like 3D platformers which have an emphasis on finding collectibles? If you don’t I have a hard time seeing you enjoying Demon Turf. Fans of the genre though will likely really enjoy Demon Turf and should look into picking it up.
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Fabraz and Playtonic Friends for the review copy of Demon Turf used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.