As I get older I’ve learnt to just be more chill when it comes to games, with the odd Apex Legends rage after a heavy loss being the only times I get incredibly irritated. But with Demoniaca it was just a domino effect of frustrations that built up till I deleted the game in a fit of anger.
It all started so well. The game has some excellent looking pixel art cut scenes, then once you get into the game it has a lovely 2D art style. The moment you begin to control your character is when cracks begin to show. A Metroidvania mixed with the combo’s of a fighting game, it’s something that could work well together, but it doesn’t. Button inputs feel sluggish because the game is too busy showing you the, admittedly very nice, animations. So pressing two different kick buttons in succession can create a nice combo, you then need to wait for the animation to finish before doing the next move. And you will have to do multiple attacks constantly because health bars are ridiculous, not just on enemies, but pieces of the environment.
Like any good Metroidvania, there are breakable walls that you can identify by looking at the map (more on that later) and seeing suspicious square rooms that aren’t connected to anything. Then begins a good thirty seconds of battering the wall till it disappears. It’s an unseemly amount of time to be asked to chip away at a destructible environment. It’s maddening. Now, back to the map issue. At the start I wasn’t using it much as I was exploring the world, just following whatever paths were open to me. Then after a while I decided to open it and see what’s what. I wish I hadn’t. I couldn’t tell what I was looking at. Didn’t know where I had been, where I was going, it was a bit of a mess.
The first rage quit moment came during a particular frustrating enemy fight. I don’t know whether I was in an area I shouldn’t be yet (I don’t think so), but coming across a standard enemy I got hit, causing my character to bounce back into the wall (there is that Castlevania bounce back featurered here), then the enemy hit again before I had a chance to do anything, cue another bounce back. This then repeated till I was dead, with no invincibility frames, I was stuck till I was dead. This sent me back to the start of the area because I had yet to find a save point. Absolutely maddening.
It does have other staples of the genre you’d come to expect. There are parts of the map where you can buy items, there’s an inventory system where you can equip stuff to improve stats and save points are used for progress. Though they do seem to be a little too infrequent, not ideal when playing on more of as “pick up and play” system like the Switch.
In the product description on the Nintendo website it says “grim visual design with a mature touch of eroticism” which made me chuckle. The only moment of this I discovered so far before the rage quit came was a man sitting on a throne surrounded by topless pixel ladies. Not exactly high art, but a step above the more suspect PC fare. It made me roll my eyes more than anything, but then maybe this was because at this point I was already done with the game.
Is there anything at all good about Demoniaca? Well, as previously mentioned it looks very nice, animations do look great despite beingf part of the problem that plagues the controls, and the music is suitably rock enthused. So from a presentation perspective it’s great. And the ideas found in Demoniaca are perfectly sound. They tried to do something different by intrdocuing more of a fighting game style to the combat, with combos and blocks, it just doesn’t gel together at all. The gameplay lets it down considerably.
With so many of these types of games available, there’s absolutely no reason for you to buy Demoniaca, even for those people looking for more of a challenge. A frustrating mess with incredibly long load times (felt like an eternity) that, aside from a nice style, offers little else.