Demon’s Tier+ Review – A Twin-Stick Shooter With an RPG Plot

    Title: Demon's Tier+
    Developer: COWCAT
    Release Date: June 9, 2020
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: COWCAT
    Genre: Twin-Stick Shooter

When I think of a twin-stick shooter, I’d be liable to think of something like Enter the Gungeon. Shooting everything in your way with a variety of weapons always sounds like a good time, but I’ve never been very skilled at them, so it’s a genre I ultimately don’t frequent.

I should have understood Demon’s Tier+ a little more before I started playing, but I think I was distracted by the classic RPG classes and assumed it was a retro roguelike. Was I wrong? Yes. But that didn’t stop me from giving it the attention that it deserves playing through this dark little action game.

Demon’s Tier+ stars a collection of adventures who have journeyed to a small town to kill some monsters. An evil king has reawakened after being asleep for 1200 years, and the monsters at his disposal are a threat to nearby townspeople. Your role, as one of these adventurers, is to venture down into the caves, defeat all the monsters you come across and kill the evil king. It’s a classic JRPG style excuse plot.

Players begin the journey as a knight, who has taken “throwing your sword always works” to its logical extreme as the attacks are merely that. Aside from shooting enemies, with your swords, you have access to a class-specific skill and shield. The shield takes the form of a bubble that gives you invincibility frames for a second before needing to recharge, and the knight’s ability is a defensive boost.

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To make it through the 15 randomized floors, you’ll need to complete various objectives that open up the exits, which include killing all enemies, blasting all explosive barrels, or opening up the chests. Killing enemies will earn you coins and gold, with coins being used outside on the hub-world to buy items and characters and gold being used between floors to buy stat boosts of your choice.

However, you also have a pseudo-time limit, take 5 minutes on a floor, and the reaper shows up. This is an invincible blue ghost with flaming projectile attacks that you’ll want to get away from fast. If you die, you’ll lose all the coins you’ve collected, which will prevent you from getting new characters, restocking on items, or buying weapons. That’s what the escape ropes are for, use them.

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Once you have a good grasp on how the game’s functions and can make a decent amount of headway into the floors, you’ll find out that the coin level upgrade is totally pointless. The ability to select your level ups can result in some absolutely incredible cheese.

You can use your gold to boost any of your stats from your attack to your attack distance or movement speed. My personal favorite was shortening the skill recharge speed on the cleric and raising their defenses, so that I could use their skill to heal, faster than enemies could damage me.

The world is your oyster, until the hardest difficulty at least when stat inflation makes attempts to tank enemies an exercise in futility. Hilariously, the boss fights you’ll come across are potentially some of the least threatening bosses I’ve come across in the genre, and they aren’t affected by stat inflation in harder modes. A roguelike where the boss floor is a sigh of relief? Baffling, but I’ll take it.

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The game’s pixel art style is charming, but dungeon exploring can get tiring after a few runs due to the somewhat repetitive music and the amount of information you need to be keeping track of. Floor objectives require you to hunt down every last enemy or chest, while you pay attention to your health, enemy projectiles, and stage hazards like spikes or fire pits. However, the fire pits only show up on one particular floor and are a pain as the actual environment itself is covered in bright flames. This floor presents a significant difficulty spike, and it can be quite hellish.

As you progress through the floors, you’ll be treated to cutscenes that flesh out the story a little and give you some party dialogue, as if you’re traveling with the whole band. Unfortunately, you can’t do that; there is a local multiplayer, which is a decent amount of fun. Still, you have to share the gold, making upgrades half as effective. But you can constantly revive each other, so that’s cool.

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Ultimately, Demon’s Tier+ is a charming twin-stick shooter that doesn’t take a whole lot of skill to get into. Its entry-level mechanics make it approachable to new fans of the genre, but skilled players will quickly discover how to take advantage of the game’s systems and get through it without much trouble.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Pyre Kavanagh

Senior Editor - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so they can buy more murder mysteries. @PyreLoop on twitter