Title: Demon Turf
Release Date: November 4, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Playtonic Friends
There always seems to be some struggle of power going on, and the demon realm isn’t any different if developer Fabraz’s newest game Demon Turf has anything to say about it. This adventure platformer has the right dash of whimsical and challenges presented in a unique paper-esque design, but that may not be enough for you to care about your newly conquered realm.
Demon Turf introduces Beebz as a minor demon with dreams of becoming the next Demon Queen. The only problem is that she has to actually beat the current King before this can happen. Beebz ends up reaching a point of annoyance when the King invades her dreams and taunts her to come and beat him. Armed only with her powers, she storms off, ready to teach everyone who the real Monarch is.
Despite the charming opening, the story is little more than an excuse for the player to embark on an adventure. Thinking back on it, there aren’t many consequences for Beebz, no matter what she does. The player beats a turf leader, gets a few cutscenes, and the leader falls in line. Rinse, repeat, and you got yourself a story that feels more like an obligation.
The simplicity of the plot isn’t a problem itself. Some of my favorite platformers’ narrative boils down to beating the boss and saving some people. However, they don’t try to be more than this, where on the other hand, Demon Turf feels like it wants to be more. For example, the ending feels like a twist without the setup. It’s just presented matter-of-factly after the final boss is defeated.
This left me to wonder if I had missed some massive clue that would have set this interaction up, but I couldn’t find anything. Instead, it came across as a last-minute addition, but it’s clear that platforming is where most of the focus went into this adventure.
Gameplay has players navigate through stages using various tight 3D platforming systems. The controls are tight, and I never died due to a control issue. Whether it was to an enemy or a fall, I could trace it back to a gameplay decision I had made. There’s a risk in the platforming chances you take, but a few options allow you to mitigate this, such as the ability to set a checkpoint. Sadly, you could be sent back to the beginning if you forget to do this before a tricky section.
Collectibles in the game come in the form of batteries, where almost everyone is required to beat the game. Unfortunately, this means you have to revisit each Turf twice to earn all fifty batteries to challenge the boss. While not an inherent problem, it made the game feel dragged out. I would have liked this to be optional for completionists or require only a certain number to move on to the boss.
By the end of the game, I felt exhausted. The revisiting of levels weighs on the experience as I would have preferred additional areas to explore. Additional turfs are needed if only to make the world feel grander as each return makes it feel smaller. It’s possible to unlock additional content from cassettes found on the other end of mini-challenges, but it wasn’t always fulfilling in execution.
The levels change to add some challenge as new abilities are granted following each boss battle. However, it’s never enough to differentiate the experience where extra levels would have potentially filled that void.
The 3D design is rather unique as all characters are presented as 2D sprites that inhabit a 3D world. At first, this can look strange, but I quickly became used to it and found it quite charming. There are times that Beebz can look a little pixelated against some of the backgrounds, though.
Otherwise, the world is vibrant and colorful and reminded me of titles like Jet Set Radio. Another similarity to the title, I felt, was the music, which was all done by M.R Miller and Fat Bard. Each track gave a distinct feeling to the Turfs, making each level a joy to experience, even if I had to do it twice.
Demon Turf has a lot to offer in its platforming design that challenges the player at every corner. It’s a shame that it becomes repetitive upon multiple visits, but the charm of these characters adds loads to the overall experience. It’s a platformer, not much more, but it doesn’t need to be because it’s got attitude, so hail to the Demon Queen, baby.
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