Tiers of Joy !
Demons Tier is a title of pure delight. Part of the “mind trilogy”with favoured titles Xenon Valkyrie+ and Riddled Corpses Ex. Developers Cowcat have once again delivered a solid and painfully tough game,with all the traits that made their previous two titles so popular.
The story revolves around Demon King Thosgar,who has turned the world into chaos with his demonic minions,then dug a massive great hole in the centre of a village. Where it’s up to you to venture down the hole,for 15 tiers of intense demonic minion bashing,before you finally face the King himself and save the world.
After a gorgeously colourful and stylish pixelated story cutscene,you are taken to the main hub of the game,the village.
Here,you will enter the tavern for character selection,a shop for buying items and a blacksmith for making weapons. At the start it’s clear that apart from talking to Npcs scurrying around.There is little to do but select your character (Only the Knight is available firstly)and jump down the hole to get straight into the action.
This twin stick shooter combined with RPG elements,has gameplay similar to Smash TV/Gauntlet with a little tint of the Diablo to boot.
Each area (or Tier for the purpose of this game)carries one objective to fulfill before the hatch to the next level opens and you can progress further.
Objectives are relatively straightforward.Kill all enemies,open all chests or destroy all bombs are common requests.
Then it’s moving and taking on the many demonic enemies in the tier.Rushing towards you from every angle,there’s monstrous deformities combined with bats,large maggots and in later tiers explosive beasts and faster moving demonic soldiers with demons even firing at you from tower placements.
Right stick fires your weapon of choice,as you blast through everything that moves and also the many items left scattered on the floor.
Gold coins collected will be used to upgrade your character abilities (health,defence,speed,attack etc)in between completed tiers.Runes discovered are automatically equipped for special abilities and scrolls for new weapon types are given to the blacksmith,should you make it out alive!
The main currency though,comes in the shape of blue D Coins..
Take enough of these back to the village,and your character can purchase extra character types such as a wizard and an archer.Buy items from the shop,such as potions and keys to rescue prisoners locked in cages that on release,fight with you. Then finally,D coin will buy the special weapons that the blacksmith has learned from your returned scrolls.
Yet,each tier experience comes with a few interesting tricks up its sleeve.
Firstly,each randomly generated tier is timed at a countdown of 5 minutes to complete your objective then escape.On top of that,comes the REAPER.
Spend too long finding the exit,and this undead spectre of doom will chase you and kill you,and being indestructible,it’s get to the exit or die!!
On the subject of death,perish on any tier loses you ALL your abilities earned,D coin,and gold.Meaning you start all over again from scratch and beginning at the very first tier you started.
Luckily,there is a quick solution in the form of escape ropes. Purchased from the shop,you can bring up the inventory wheel and use a rope to escape from any part of the tier at any time.
This will still erase your abilities and start you back at the beginning,but will keep any D coin earned,thus allowing you to buy upgrades and items.
After several tiers completed,you will face an enemy boss where success wields plenty of coin,scrolls or power ups. It’s then up to you whether to proceed further or exit and return with a different character,extra items or better weapons.
It’s here that the strategy element kicks in..do you proceed,get greedy and risk losing everything for possibly more coin and special items? Or exit and restock ?
What’s clear is that Cowcat have made yet another classic,where every little aspect of the game has been worked upon,refined and tuned. Where perseverance and effort pays and the game suddenly opens up and the challenge ever greater.
If you’ve played Xenon Valkyrie/Riddled Corpses then you’ll know what to expect and it’s a straight purchase.
The pixelated graphics are wonderfully petite,charming and colourful and the soundtrack is chiptune retro exquisite!
It’s by no means perfect though.
Hours into the game,exposes little niggles which are by no means game changing.
Enemies can reappear out of walls and the dark mist surrounding the tier corridors as you walk,can shadow unexpected dangers that you cannot clearly see.
Random generation can place clusters of enemies in a small area,especially on an unprepared start. More importantly,the biggest setback is being at the other side of the tier,completing mission objective and the Reaper appearing when the escape exit is at the opposite end of the tier! It’s just impossible to make it back quick enough without the Reaper catching you,so it feels slightly unfair to have to use an escape rope to avoid death,when you felt your character was strong enough to proceed further..
Overall,Demons Tier+ is still heartily recommended.
This really is the standard by which all games should follow. Addictive,captivating and full of challenge and charm,that is also available on the PlayStation Vita to boot…
What you waiting for ?
Thanks to Cowcat for the review code.