Considering how this year has gone, it’s surprising we haven’t seen more hellish settings. Games can provide escape from our often-nightmarish reality, and we usually want to escape to somewhere pleasant. However, some people aim to make the idea of Hell more interesting, and even entertaining in some cases. This is definitely the case for Fabraz, developer responsible for creating the upcoming game Demon Turf. Following the demon Beebz, the player must lead the hero through the hellish landscape to overthrow the King of Hell. Until the full game comes out, we have the demo Demon Turf: Trials to tide us over. Here’s what we thought about it.
We’re in HELL?!
Yes, that’s exactly where we are in Demon Turf. If it’s not the Hell, it’s definitely one of adjacent realms. The story appears right at the start pretty bluntly: Beebz the demon finds herself in underworld-simile land and meets face-to-screen with the King of Hell. The King taunts and challenges her, an offer Beebz immediately accepts, and sets off to dethrone him. The game is a 3D platformer with what appears to be 2D hand-drawn graphics. The motivation is one of a personal nature that appeals both to the character and player, since the King is such a jerk.
Rays of Light
Despite the surroundings, Demon Turf has a lot of bright moments. The first light is the freedom of movement in its platforming. In addition to a steady running pace and standard jumping, there are a lot of move combos to master. There’s double-jumping, spin-jumping, spin-gliding, and wall-jumping, to name a few. All the moves are quick, almost-instant, allowing for quick execution and decision-making even while in the air. To add icing to the movement cake, Beebz changes her form every time she does a new move, making them far more entertaining. Moving around in Demon Turf feels fast and smooth with some lenience in platforming.
Now, let’s talk about the other big part of the platforming: The platforms. It’s logical to think that any underworld environment would be full of chaos and incomprehension. However, Demon Turf has brought order to these thoughts with some clean platforming sections. The story implies that Beebz is going through some sort of test which this underworld seems to support. The way sections and platforms arrange themselves gives a solid impression that they’re a challenge to be overcome. There’s still plenty of otherworldly atmosphere surrounding Beebz while she tries to make it through the trials.
Finally, we have to mention the aesthetics, both sound and visuals. The music is fun, funky, and is good to the point where it seems almost unreasonable. It harks back to the soundtrack of games like Jet Set Radio where music tells players exactly what they’ll be playing. The music sets a quirky, unnatural tone, and the graphics help drive the notion home. The hand-drawn look and animation of the characters both fit and contrast the 3D platforming world well. It creates the sense that the characters are out of their element.
Pits of Darkness
Hell is hell for a reason, and Demon Turf is unable to escape all the gaping maws of horror. As is sometimes the case, while movement and execution can feel good, the results may not match. Beebz has a decent amount of friction while on the ground, but in the air she’s like oily butter on ice. She gains momentum almost instantly after leaving ground and moves sharply in the air. While this can be good for quick decisions, it can also be disorienting and hard to land precise jumps. The game advises looking down to watch Beebz’s shadow, but it’s no fun jumping and staring at the ground.
The largest maw has to be the combat system. Beebz’s main form of defense is chargeable force that pushes objects and enemies in whatever direction she’s facing. While it’s cool in theory and presentation, the impact is lacking. The few enemies that you get to use it on only get dazed from the impact so that Beebz can push them into hazards. As powerful as it feels, it seems like it doesn’t actually do any damage, and a precedent is set to deal with enemies by pushing them around. Since the rest of the game moves fast, the combat breaks the overall flow.
The End of the Trials
Who knows what lies at the end of these Demon Turf trials? We won’t be able to find out until the rest of the game appears in early 2021. The game has its own vibe and passes that on to the players. It comes through strong in the graphics, sound, and movement, but misses a few notes in the control and combat. With time to spare, it’s likely that Fabraz has plenty of more improvements to make. However, while we wait for that, feel free to take the Demon Turf demo for a trial spin.
Will Quick is a freelance media wizard living in Spain. When he's not gaming or writing, he's doodling comics or whatever else pops in his head.