Platformers have always been a large part of my love of gaming. From big AAA games like Super Mario Sunshine, to indie 3D platformers like A Hat in Time the chance to explore a new world hunting for secrets has always supplied that perfect amount of dopamine. Whether scaling its highest towers and diving into its deepest pits I always find limitless fun with these kinds of games which is why I was excited to see what Demon Turf has to offer. Fabraz has managed to create a fun game with good physics and an eye-catching look, but Demon Turf also has its flaws.
The story of Demon Turf is short but sweet. You play as Beebz, a young demon, who has decided that instead of being content to live the life in Hell that she's currently living she'll instead fight the Demon King himself to take over. To get to the Demon King first Beebz needs to prove herself, and what better way is there to prove yourself than traveling from hub world to hub world defeating bosses and taking their regions for themselves. It's a simple premise, and one we've seen time and time again through classic 3D platformers like Crash Bandicoot but when the premise lends itself so well to gameplay formula and setting it's hard for it to not mesh well.
The movement and platforming of Demon Turf feels excellent. Beebz has a regular assortment of moves including double jump, triple jumps, and wall jumps. While playing I normally didn't even find myself using Beebz triple jump instead opting to use her bat form. Once per jump you can transform Beebz into a bat, this form will allow you to hover slightly and correct your course. Depending on if you double jump and then use the bat form, or jump transform into a bat and then jump again Beebz has completely different movement. The former can be used to travel a decent distance but be able to land precisely, and the latter will slingshot Beebz forward. You'll certainly make the distance but if you're trying to hit a target you might find yourself overshooting. It's a neat feature that forces the player to mentally flip that coin between precision and distance, to add some insult to injury Beebz is also a little bit floats so even if you land if you're close enough to the edge it may not count.
Aside from the standard Demon Turf levels, there are also a number of challenges, somewhat similar to the special challenges in Super Mario Sunshine or the Time Warp zones of A Hat in Time, that picks a specific gameplay aspect, like falling blocks or the long jump, and creates a series of specific and more complex challenges. As soon as I found this area I was enthralled and spent the first 4-5 hours of play just here alone.
The one area that Demon Turf seems to really falter is in its combat. Using Beebz spin or punch you can't ever damage enemies, but can stun and push them. Each combat encounter comes down to you pushing an enemy into a spike wall somewhere in the arena or pushing them off a ledge. For the first combat or two it's fine to deal with, but in a game of fast movement and traversal to get roadblocked and have to awkwardly push some kind of demon pig into a wall really stunts the pacing. While I've only completed one boss battle so far that same slow sentiment definitely carried across. I would love to see the addition of some kind of actual weapon upgrade later in the game, but so far the only tool acquired is a Hookshot to yank enemies around. It certainly adds more variety to what you can do in combat but doesn't fix the pacing issue.
Possibly one of the most unique aspects of Demon Turf is its art direction. Each world is made up of somewhat low poly 3D structures. 'Circular' trampolines that jut out with jagged points, large basic-looking structures, and simple rotating platforms in the skies. This 3D view of the world is then harshly juxtaposed by the 2D denizens of the world. You won't always see Beebz back as you have complete and free movement in this 3D world but there are certain angles that your view of her will pivot from behind, to quarter away, to side on. Honestly, it's an art style that I really didn't enjoy when first seeing the game announced, but getting my hands on the game this look really grew on me.
Demon Turf is shaping up to be one of the next big Indie 3D platformers and I'm all here for it. At its core, the story is simple and familiar, and the platforming is really well done. The combat still leaves me with hesitation but hopefully as the game progresses it will become more fleshed out. From images and trailers it looks like as well as more tools Beebz will also obtain a variety of new form changes that I'm looking forward to. Now, time to get back to becoming the Demon King!
TechRaptor previewed Demon Turf on PC using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is set to release some time in 2021.