December 7, 2021

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Demon Turf Review

If you were a thousand years old, you’d be qualified for just about anything, but not in hell. At that age you’re still considered a young piker and hardly taken seriously so when our hero, Beebz, decides that she’s going to wipe the floor with the Demon King and take over hell, no one takes her seriously. So it’s up to you to help Beebz conquer the demon realm and become its sole ruler.

Demon Turf is a 3D platformer that pulls a lot of its influences from platformers of yore. Hidden beneath the quirky art style and low polygon graphics is a challenging platformer that can frustrate and entertain in equal measure.

The first thing you’ll notice about Demon Turf is its art style. Demon Turf combines a fully polygonal 3D world with 2D Sprites for the characters. The 3D world is rather low polygon and full of bright, garish colours and designs. Even the more dour areas have a primary colour sense about them. In many ways, the art style looks and feels like a kids drawing and this speaks altogether true for the games character designs. The 2D sprites and line work have a very wonky look to them, adding to the games charm and helping it stand out in a rather crowded field. It’s rather similar to Paper Mario in a full 3D world with a child’s textbook scribble aesthetic laid on top, giving the game a very rough around the edges look. It’s more intriguing than it sounds and gives the game a unique visual aesthetic.

Beebz herself has some nice animations that play into her move sets. Her spin move and double jump turns her into a winged creature while diving underwater turns her into an octopus-like creature.

Demon Turf takes much of its inspiration from older 3D platformers. You’ve got an overworld hub, Forktown, from which you can access the rest of the game’s worlds from. Each world is themed, from the desert themed Apocadesert to the neo industrial look of New Neo City. Each world also functions as a hub world with the different levels accessed from within. There are seven levels plus a boss fight per world. The goal of each level is to collect a battery that will power up the door to the Demon King himself. Each area also contains sweets for you to collect which function as the game’s currency.

You’ve got the usual set of platforming moves with just enough of a difference to set them apart. You can jump, double jump, spin which also functions as a slight gliding ability that slows your fall and helps to cross large distances, long jump, side jump, wall jump, swim and dash in the water. As you progress across the game, you’ll get more abilities like a hook shot that plays both into platforming and combat and the ability to turn into a wheel and zoom around the landscape, among others. For combat, Beebz has a punch which can be powered up to smash opponents across the screen.

If you think that the games art style is indicative of its difficulty, think again because Demon Turf is quite challenging from the get go. You’ll be spinning, jumping, floating and fighting your way across levels that have been designed for speedrunners as well as general gamers. A lot of the game is designed with precision platforming in mind along with large sections in which you’ll have to chain move sets together. Demon Turf also allows you to set your own checkpoints in the levels. The first world and its areas will guide you on the best places to place them but after that it’s all up to you. This can make a level a far more pleasing run or a nightmare gauntlet if you put one down at the wrong section. Checkpoint flags are limited though I often found myself forgetting about placing them as I tried for one clean run through a level. The game also allows you to warp to any checkpoint at any time.

Getting used to the way controlling a 2D sprite in 3D space like this is imperative. Initially, I found Demon Turfs movement and platforming frustrating, but once you get the timing down on Beebz controls, many of the sections become addictive with an almost Zen-like quality of movement combos and flow.

Completing a world opens up alternate versions of the levels, in which they’ve been redesigned to some degree. If you want to get to the game’s final boss you’re going to have to play these redesigned sections for the remainder of the batteries you’re going to need.

Outside of the main platforming, Demon Turf packs in a wheelbarrows worth of content. There are sidequests to complete, mini games to play, extra specific platforming challenges to complete and photos to take of specific areas which gives the games photo mode an actual in-game reason to be there. If that’s not enough, the sweets you pick up can be traded in for abilities that augment Beebz move sets. Need some extra airtime for her hover ability? You can purchase a power-up for that. All of this coupled with the second versions of each level pushes the games run time well past the twenty-hour mark. And it can go even further if you want faster completion times, trying to find the shortcuts and just generally becoming more adept at speedrunning.

Demon Turf’s weakest aspect is its combat though. It just feels very imprecise as you try to push enemies into spikes and other environmental hazards. Worse yet, the combat and some timed sections, have to be completed to open up sections of the level or spawn in platforms. They can’t be skipped and end up breaking the flow of movement.

Another area where Demon Turf suffers is in its camera. There’s a limit to your viewing axis, especially in buildings and other areas which can result in blind jumps needing to be taken. A particularly frustrating section early on saw me needing to guide Beebz down through a series of laser grids with holes in them without a clear way to see or judge distances. When using the grapple hook, the camera also reorients behind and slightly below Beebz, adding to some frustrating landings because you can’t always see a platform directly after a jump leading to trial and error gameplay.

Demon Turf initially frustrated me, but the further I got into the game the more I liked it. Even at its frustrating moments or when you’ve just chained a sweet flow of moves together to cross a volcanoes caldera, Demon Turf has that just-one-more-try feel going for it. Its different art style may have been what attracted me to the game to begin with, but it’s the gameplay that kept me around.

Developer: Fabraz

Publisher: Playtonic Games

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and Series S, MORE

Demon Turf Was Reviewed on PS4

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