Welcome to a new series here at Mental Health Gaming, where we take a look at certain games through the eyes of someone with ADHD. What do they do well, what can they do better, and what do they get fundamentally wrong. Also, looking at whether the game needs to change or is it acceptable that a particular game just isn’t for someone with ADHD. So first up, it is Demon Skin.
If your first thought is, “Is this trying to be another Demon’s Souls?” like I initially did, then the answer is yes and no. Instead, what you have here is a brutally difficult hack and slash 2.5D with a distinct dark atmosphere set in a world that draws some inspiration from the SoulsBorne games of From Software.
Now that isn’t to say it is a mere carbon copy, because boy, have I played some carbon copies of those games. However, this is clearly inspired by and not just trying to be a 2D Soulslike. The bulk of the inspiration comes in the form of combat. There is an absolute wealth of options available to take on various foes, so much so it can feel a little overwhelming.
When I play games such as this, Diablo, Dark Souls, Elder Scrolls, etc., I can often get to a point where I am hoping that what I find and what I equip will do the job. I essentially need to look for green numbers that show it is overall better than what I have. There are games out there that work really well for this, such as Slay the Spire; building a cohesive deck is easy to understand if being difficult to get right.
What those games all do on the whole, though, is make it easy enough to understand how to be better. Colour coding drops for rarity, easy to understand numbers, and simple colour coding to show a positive or negative difference in stats. Demon Skin, for some reason, took me ages to get to grips with. It does nothing wrong as such, but it just felt a bit too much for me to get into quickly, and I twice had to put it to the side as it felt way too frustrating.
I think this comes from a major selling point of the game, and that is the ability for an abundance of tactics that can be used that change based on your weaponry, stance, enemy and many other things. It creates an experience that doesn’t get stale and allows for experimentation. Yet, for me, I felt overwhelmed by it all and ultimately frustrated.
Add to that the variety of enemies, skill trees, and amazing animations and flashing graphics. I couldn’t just pick this up and play it. I had to sit down in isolation for a bit and get my head around the game. When I did, though, I found a game I really enjoyed.
It isn’t the difficulty that is an issue. I love a difficult game. I have no issue with failing time and time again. I need to look back at the many thousands of times I messed up a run in the later levels of Trials HD. There was just too much to take in with the game’s mechanics early on.
So I want to state that I am not complaining about the game, and I think the developers have done a great job and produced something rather good. But I think there can be some improvements to help those who have ADHD or other mental barriers.
Could it be possible to have an option that allows the AI to auto-select the best equipment, weapons, etc. or at least make suggestions? Something that allows me to focus more on the gameplay itself rather than trying to understand the surrounding parts. Don’t remove all of that, as I get why it is there, but much like you’ll have accessibility options such as subtitles, colour blind mode, etc. There could be something to help aid decision making for those who do get overwhelmed by choice, or that may come back to Demon Skin a few weeks after picking it up, played something else and forgot huge chunks of what they need to do.
Don’t get me wrong, Demon Skin isn’t offensively messing accessibility up and is a fine game overall. I know for myself I could get so much more from it with a little helping hand.
Demon Skin is available on Steam for a little over £11 and is developed by Ludos Future.