ReviewsReview: Demon's Crystals

Review: Demon’s Crystals

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Don’t you just hate it when your peace is ruined by hordes of rampaging monsters? You are living the calm and serene life that all demon’s dream of, and then suddenly all hell breaks loose! Demon’s Crystals paints this picture perfectly as the Urican demons have their afternoon ruined by an army of unwanted guests.

Developed by Byte4games and published by Badlands Publishing, this isometric twin-stick shooter is hectic, repetitive and full of violence. A variety of weapons, power-ups, special attacks and defence orbs are available for this team of four demons. You must defeat wave after wave of bloodthirsty monsters ensuring that you stay alive to fulfil each task you are given.

Demon’s Crystals won’t challenge you mentally.

When I first play a game, I want to know that it’s going to test me mentally and physically. I want to have to work on my accuracy and reactions. I also need to be tested logically or tactically. If I get none of these things, I soon get bored and switch off. Sadly, Demon’s Quest doesn’t test you on a mental level! Most of the gameplay requires a small amount of skill, and a huge slice of luck. Power-ups spawn in random locations, though you get the same ones for each stage. Your enemies leap from the ground like a salmon heading upstream. This makes them slow to react to you, so killing them is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Luckily it asks you to be accurate, and to react to dangers around you. The stages that you must explore are extremely small arenas. You are restricted to where you can move, and you must work within the boundaries to complete your goals. The goals comprise; collecting crystals, killing a set number of foes, or a combination of the two. This doesn’t change throughout the game, except for the end of world boss fight. Sadly, this lack of variety allows boredom and repetitive gameplay to creep in. It’s a weak point to the game that could have easily been overcome with some creative thinking, instead you are left with a sense of deja vu.

Time to mow them down with a Minigun.

It’s all about the team of demons.

The Urican demons love their crystals, and they have always been at the top of the food chain. Three mysterious beings appear one day to bring chaos and disorder to this calm kingdom. The once peaceful beings become aggressive and destructive, and it’s your responsibility to banish the mysterious creatures and restore order to your homeland.

You have the option to select any of the four demons at your disposal. There is the choice to play this solo, or you can ask friends to join you in a couch co-op session. You will be asked to venture through three worlds; The Graveyard, Forest and Castle. Each has location specific monsters, with a unique appearance. In reality, they are the same enemy as found on other stages, instead they are skinned to look differently, but their actions are nearly identical. This lack of creativity was disappointing, and I would have liked to see more thought put into the foes that you face.

Plenty of power-ups and pointless levelling up.

One element that I loved in Demon’s Quest was the selection of power-ups and special attacks. Giant rockets, machine guns, boomerang bullets, and more are available. The special attacks will freeze everyone in sight, set the world on fire, or allow you to spawn a friendly creature to aid you temporarily. You also have floating orbs that match your firepower, and mow down the monsters in seconds flat. Lovers of the shooter genre will adore the selection of wacky guns that can be found and equipped.

The array of extra elements was something I expected to see, but one thing that still confuses me is the levelling system that has been implemented. As always, killing monsters and destroying buildings will score you XP. This is automatically added to your experience bar, and quickly you level up. But oddly, it made no difference to your strength, health, or speed, It was an odd thing to implement, especially when it was a pointless task.

Send the monsters back to their graves.

The wave of monsters soon becomes a challenge, unlike the main bosses.

The unpredictable nature and tough exterior of the grunt soldiers makes fighting them a bit of a challenge. You must dodge projectiles, traps, and other enemies, while aiming for the stage goal. Sadly, there isn’t the same difficulty when you face each of the main bosses. Their attack patterns are predictable, they swipe and miss you repeatedly. The largest risk is when you don’t know what they are going to do, this will lead to many mistakes, and players trying to win by trial and error.

If you get bored with the arcade main story, Demon’s Crystals has others to choose from; a solo survival, and a plethora of local multiplayer modes. You won’t be surprised to hear that survival is a standard affair. Destroy wave after wave of enemies, while living for as long as possible. Once you die your score is calculated and this is then compared to a global leaderboard.

The multiplayer modes add variety to the gameplay, with six to choose from; Survival, Verses, Deathmatch, Kill the enemies, and two crystal-based games. Each adds a different challenge for you and your group of friends to face while sharing a couch.

Demon’s Crystals is an older game, but it still looks great.

With its isometric viewpoint, colourful landscapes, and varied and accurate environments, this is one game that has aged well. Demon’s Crystals character models have a cartoon style that holds enough detail to make them interesting to look at. With hectic action, and untold amounts of missiles and projectiles flying around the screen, it would be easy for this to have performance issues. Thankfully, it ran smoothly, and I had no issues when I played.

A dramatic audio sounds in the background as you slay each monster you face. It’s upbeat tone and sinister tunes demonstrate the danger the demon’s face. A basic choice of sound effects was just as I expected. They worked well, but didn’t wow me. The guns blare out, and the buildings go boom when they collapse as the bullets repeatedly smash into them.

Neither the graphics nor sound effects will leave you amazed. But they worked together to deliver the theme to a good standard. Both have fared well over the years and are comparable to modern indie titles. 

Can you defeat the giant skeleton boss?

A twin-stick shooter with a simple approach. 

When all you have to focus on is moving and aiming with each of the analogue sticks, you know it’s going to be simple to play. With responsive controls, and accurate aiming using the right stick, this was a pleasure to play and easy to pick up. Strangely, no tutorial is offered, and this left me confused when using special items. I’m still unaware if they are automated, or if you control them. Until I find out, I’ll continue mashing the buttons, hoping for the best result. Other than this, you’ll have no issues in what turned out to be a comfortable and fast-paced game to play. 

Demon’s Crystals may be repetitive, but its variety in game modes add replay value. You are sadly restricted to local multiplayer only, and this reduces its appeal considerably. A challenging achievement list adds a reason to return if you are a completionist. Fun to play casually, I can see this as a game to play between other titles. 

Demon’s Crystals delivers basic, but fun gameplay.

You will not be challenged to an in-depth multi-layered experience if you try out Demon’s Crystals. Instead, you are guaranteed a fast-paced murder spree that is colourful, loud, and fun. If you have enough friends to take part in the multiplayer modes, you’ll enhance your experience, otherwise you’ll have a casual title that will keep you entertained between bigger games. I enjoyed my time with it and recommend that you give it a go. If you like what you read, you can buy a copy here! You can’t sit back and allow three strangers to ruin your life, gather your weapons and defeat each wave of enemies you face.

SUMMARY

Demon's Crystals is a simple and repetitive twin-stick shooter that asks you to defeat waves of monsters. Can you kill everything in sight and collect all the crystals available? Fun to play solo, but better with friends!

+ Colourful graphics.
+ Aggressive audio.
+ A simple concept.
+ Great to play with friends.
+ Good value for money.
- No online play.
- Repetitive gameplay.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Linux, Mac, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I've now found a new home to write my reviews, and get my opinion out to the masses. Still the lead admin for Xboxseriesfans on Facebook and Instagram. I love the gaming world, and writing about it. I can be contacted at [email protected] for gaming reviews.

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