Demon Turf Review
In 1996, platformers took the leap from 2D to 3D. While a few missed the landing, this kickstarted the next generation of the genre with a plethora of mascots stepping into a new dimension. Although the sub-genre slowly dissipated, it is now in the midst of a resurgence with great games like ’Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time’ and ‘Psychonauts 2’ leading the charge. Slime-San developers, Fabraz, look to combine elements of both by having 2D sprites jump and glide around 3D environments but will this odd amalgamation blend to create a unique experience in an established genre?
Ripped apart, the demon world is in a state of segregation. Gangs have claimed areas and are battling for complete control whilst the Demon King oversees the chaos. Sick and tired of the whiny hellspawn, our resident badass, Beebz, takes it upon herself to reunite the land. With a treacherous trip ahead of her, you join the rebellious protagonist as she attempts to kick the crap out of turf leaders to be crowned the Demon Queen.
Like a Bat Out of Hell
Similar to others in the genre, the game consists of hub worlds which lead to a myriad of levels. Each area is themed, taking you from a tropical paradise to the fiery depths of hell. Levels are well designed, varying in terms of objectives to keep the experience fresh. At times you’ll be searching for items, racing across precarious platforms or taking down an array of enemies. There’s an excellent natural flow to stages. Platforms and grapple points are thoughtfully positioned, allowing you to elegantly zip through levels at record speed.
With the ability to double jump, glide and perform an extended somersault, traversing should be a simple task, however that’s not necessarily the case. Combining manoeuvers can be problematic due to the strange parameters in place. For some reason, you are unable to wall jump after gliding or double-jumping which can be quite frustrating. In the air, Beebz seems to unnaturally lose momentum making aerial traversal difficult to predict. Identifying the distance required to reach platforms is also troublesome. While a permanent shadow helps to guide positioning, a more prominent cursor would have aided platforming segments.
Throughout, you’ll gain new abilities that are then core to subsequent levels. Scenarios are well crafted, requiring you to switch skills to pass through areas. It’s at busier points like this where the camera becomes an issue. Although you have full control over your view, it can still be an arduous task trying to get the right angle. Obstacle-ridden paths can push the camera uncomfortably close, making movement difficult, eventually hindering your progress. This was most evident in boss battles. In one instance, you have to grapple your opponent, however, at this point, the camera zooms in and drops to a low-angle shot. Repeatedly, the camera would get stuck under the platform, leaving you blind and vulnerable. The addition of player-positioned checkpoints eases the stress of dying. However, without any checkpoints generated by the game, you will need to remember to add these in yourself, otherwise, you will respawn at the beginning of the stage.
By far the most uninspiring aspect of Demon Turf is the combat. With a charge of the trigger, you can send out a massive palm to push enemies into spikes or off the edge of the platform. The slow and clunky fighting lacks the originality of the rest of the game, making these segments feel like a chore. Performance issues are also most noticeable at these points with slow-downs and stutters occurring when several enemies are on screen at once. Sadly, you may experience other bugs at random, such as glitchy animation and characters getting stuck in the environment.
The visuals in Demon Turf are a mixed bag. While some may not like the idea of mixing 2D and 3D sprites, personally, I thought that the contrasting combination worked well… most of the time. Particular areas highlighted the juxtaposition wonderfully with bright backdrops that complimented the hellish protagonist. Unfortunately, most environments are quite dreary with a murky smog that is reminiscent of Nintendo 64 era titles. The angst soundtrack perfectly captures Beebz’s personality. Her rebellious nature is evident in the childish vocal lines and contemporary melodies that accompany the range of stages.
Demon Turf is a strange and peculiar game. At times, it nails its intention, delivering solid platforming sections, packed with ingenuity. However, you’ll often be let down by technical issues and odd design decisions that will ultimately hinder your experience. Although the game, doesn’t manage to stick the landing, it certainly has some memorable moments that will resonate with fans of classic 3D platformers.
*** A Nintendo Switch key provided by the publisher ***
• Some Great Platforming Sequences
• Interesting and Varied Abilities
• Range of Levels
• Murky Design
• Clunky Controls
• Performance Issues