Hell Is Other Demons is an interesting beast. It occupies territory which is probably familiar to any nostalgia chasers out there. It's a pixelated, bullet-hell shooter with one foot wedged firmly in the backside of the 'hardcore' audience. Effectively what this means is that it's a retro-style game which is harder than titanium coated nails. It also has more bleeps and bloops than a tacky 80s sci-fi robot.5
Hell Is Other Demons comes to us from Cuddle Monster Games and Kongregate. You control the rebel demon who is trying to fix hell which has fallen under some sort of trance. The main method for fixing said problem is using a big gun to shoot it all up and awaken the dazed demons. As plans go, it's both simple and effective.
Although Hell Is Other Demons was developed by Cuddle Monster Games I found that fact pretty hard to believe. For the first 30 minutes of my time with the game, I refused to think that it was the work of anyone other than Downwell developer Moppin. Both games bear miraculous similarities to each other, having similar graphics, similar styles of gameplay and the omnipresent ability to pause the game and swap color palettes if you're bored of what you're looking at.
Keeping Up With The Fast-Paced Action of Hell is Other Demons
The main gameplay in Hell Is Other Demons is shooting your way through waves of enemies and dodging bucketloads of projectiles. You can equip new weapons, ultimate abilities and upgrades as you go. The campaign consists of 4 areas each with a boss, a shop and an endless level to grind through. Once you've beaten those you unlock the super-hard final world with its own merciless boss fight.
Most of the fights in the main campaign are pretty challenging bar a few outliers. You face off against enemies in different arenas with specific scenery like industrial areas or a lab. Each level has it's own gimmick too, like the level with only 4 tiny platforms to stand on or the level with erupting geysers. Most of the time these stage hazards are more dangerous than the actual enemies are.
Your main method of defense is focusing more on avoiding hits than hitting your enemy. At least that's the case for regular fights. The enemies vary themselves by shooting different types of projectiles in different ways, and there's plenty of variety. New enemies present themselves at a good pace. Something new to blast apart every few levels or so keeps things interesting.
Playing Arcade and Campaign in Hell is Other Demons
There is also an arcade mode which sees you facing down waves of enemies as the location automatically switches. You can find new weapons and ultimates mid-fight and unlock temporary upgrades as you collect gems. Once you die you do have to start again, but there is some level of permanence to your progress. As you collect gems you not only level up but you also unlock new characters. Once you've unlocked a character you can pick them to start out with, adding some much-needed variety.
The pace keeps a quick pace throughout Hell Is Other Demons' campaign. Although you can find the pace slowing down somewhat towards the end. While the first 4 areas and bosses are all mostly challenging the last area ramps up the difficulty quite considerably. For the most part, it's never annoyingly difficult but it does have a bad habit of forcing you to grind for gems to spend on better weapons and upgrades.
The grinding it the real pace killer. You don't really seem to earn gems fast enough considering the pretty high cost of many of the game's upgrades. A good weapon can cost 20000 gems, and you're lucky if you can earn 5000 in a single run. This means plenty of time spent repeatedly playing endless levels until you've got the cash you need. If you find the equipment you bought lacking, you're back to the grindstone.
Bold Colors and Difficult Challenges in Hell is Other Demons
Hell Is Other Demons has a pretty frenetic pace of gameplay. Realistically it probably would have been better if the game had constantly kept things moving. Other than the last boss things move at a decent speed, skidding to a halt at the last hurdle. Even after grinding for good items it took considerably longer than all the other bosses put together before he finally succumbed.
Something is even worse than the difficulty spike for the last boss, and that's the cheap gimmick at the end of the fight. When you actually kill the last boss the level doesn't finish as it does in every other boss fight. Instead, you have to race deadly liquid to the top of the stage, if you don't outpace the stuff then you have to fight the demonic git all over again. Honestly, this happened to me during my playthrough and it was one of the most disheartening experiences I've ever had in gaming.
There are also one-or-two minor niggles to the level design. Some of the gimmicks are more annoying then they are interesting such as the bouncy stage. Only slightly worse than that is the little nooks you can get hung up on. While moving through a stage you can get stuck on little steps in otherwise flat-looking surfaces. More than once this has gotten me killed, including several times on the final boss.
Hell is Other Demons Review | Final Thoughts
It's not all doom and gloom, at least from a quality perspective. Hell Is Other Demons is a lot of fun, looks great and has an exceptional soundscape. It all fits together to make a game that feels fun to play, especially once you've beaten it and can relax a bit. The arcade mode gives the game some variety, not to mention some goal-free replayability and is a really good way of tying the entire package together.
Overall Hell Is Other Demons is a great action, shooter title let down by an occasional bad design choice. It looks and sounds excellent and plays like a dream. The feeling you get from successfully dodging an insane barrage before wiping the screen is incredibly satisfying. It all feels like the sort of thing which will be dangerously addictive to the right person. Prepare to see some insane YouTube videos come out of this game over the next few months.
TechRaptor reviewed Hell Is Other Demons on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer. The game is available now on PC via Kartridge and Nintendo Switch and comes to Steam May 20th.
- Challenging But Mostly Fair
- Arcade Mode Adds Loads Of Playtime
- Amazing Gamefeel
- Steep Difficulty Curve
- Cheap Post-Final Boss Scene
- Some Annoying Level Design