Demon Turf review: Reign in hell

by Lars
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Demon Turf is a 2D/3D hybrid platformer from Fabraz, developers of niche indie title Slime-san. As the ambitious upstart Beebz, you’ll have to conquer a wide assortment of demonic kingdoms to become the new queen of Hell. Much like their spunky, shape-shifting protagonist, Fabraz are clearly incredibly ambitious, because Demon Turf is trying to achieve a hell of a lot.

Beebz is trying to take over Hell, and she’s gonna do that by platforming her way through it. It’s always a delight seeing 3D platformers emerge these days – gone are the days of Jak & Daxter. Now all we can really do is wait for the next 3D Mario game to come out, and that just doesn’t do it for everybody. Demon Turf has a genuinely fresh vibe that’s sort of like Splatoon gone wrong, and it really works.

If you’re a veteran of the 3D platformer, you’ll instantly be at home. You’ve got your hub worlds from which you’ll strike out into different levels, hoovering up collectibles and navigating hazards along the way. Beebz (and every other character) is a 2D sprite navigating a 3D world. She has an assortment of moves available, but for the most part the game keeps it fairly simple, stripping it back to basics. If you think about the terrifying, existential crisis-inducing levels in Super Mario Sunshine where the FLUDD gets ripped off and Mario is left to fend for himself, that’s basically what yopu’ve got here.

Yes, there are gimmicks here and there. But Demon Turf focuses on some very tight, simple controls and your skill in executing them. There’s combat, which usually involves launching enemies into environmental hazards, but that takes a massive backseat to platforming. It’s a pretty good balance, because the battles themselves aren’t anything special. Charge up some punches, knock some little 2D pigs around – there’s not a lot of depth to it.

Demon Turf combat

Despite Demon Turf‘s many positive elements, it doesn’t really have a ‘hook’. At first, the 3D/2D fusion seems really unique and well executed, but it doesn’t really go any further than the visual level. A lot of the time, it just feels like a shortcut – less things to model and render in 3D. Even some of the character sprites look a bit choppy at times, hovering in this awkward space between lo-fi and just, well, lo I suppose. At times the game looks absolutely gorgeous, but it’s just not consistent.

Levels have a few secrets to offer – alongside the batteries you need to collect to progress, Beebz can sniff out hidden sweets almost everywhere she goes. There’s a feature where you can return to levels you’ve already conquered to do a victory lap, seeing how everything looks under your control. These differences aren’t really enticing enough to revisit every level for another go, and it really just feels like bloat for the sake of it.

As you progress through levels, you can place your own checkpoints in the form of flags marking Beebz’ conquest. But with no way to map your progress throughout the level, this is really kinda limiting. You can end up using all of your checkpoints much too early, and have to replay massive, unpleasant chunks of level every time you miss a jump.

Demon Turf‘s ambition to be this massive, quirky 3D platforming revival is essentially its downfall. There’s some really good stuff at the game’s core, but they’ve padded it out with so much extra unnecessary crap. What could have been a supremely tight 5-6 hour experience spirals out into this messy mandela of optional objectives, collectibles and level repeats that I just have no desire to spend any more time with. I’ve mostly enjoyed the time I’ve already spent on it, despite all the rough edges, and I really applaud Fabraz‘s creative ambition.

Demon Turf overall thoughts

Demon Turf is an excellent idea with a really strong sense of what it wants to play and look like. Unfortunately those senses just aren’t executed all that well. Whilst the core gameplay is really tight and fluid, much of the game around it feels basic and cheap. This inconsistency breaks whatever momentum Demon Turf manages to build, bogging a potentially fantastic game down with mediocrity.

I would love to see Demon Turf reach its full potential as a concept. But it definitely hasn’t hit the mark this time around.

You can check out Demon Turf on Steam here. Why not read more of our game reviews here?

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