Review code graciously provided by Silesia Games. This will have no bearing on my review, opinion or recommendation. Rest assured, integrity is what Games With Toasty is all about.
Turn Based Strategy games have seen quite the resurgence in recent times with the likes of XCOM, Fire Emblem and Wargroove reigniting the world’s love for the once idle genre. Demon’s Rise – War For The Deep by Silesia Games, as you might expect, is one of those games, only with a somewhat charming high fantasy flair added for good measure. With an appealingly low entry price and boasting over 50 hours of tactical content, it certainly manages to raise an inquisitive eyebrow after a preliminary gander.
The proud and ancient city of Angor is besieged by various subterranean menaces and it is down to six plucky adventurers to take the fight to the enemy, and retake their homeland – I think. You see, Demon’s Rise’s story dances between the realms of messy, and unfinished. There is certainly something there, and there are a few ‘cutscenes’ to help flesh things out, but it isn’t particularly engaging, let alone well written. You can have a gander at the map for some background information on various locations etc. but this is where the whole “unfinished thing” comes into play – it feels like the developers had plans for a grander world, but couldn’t implement it beyond a few text boxes hidden in a menu screen.
Story isn’t everything however, and Demon’s Rise does have a few tricks up its sleeve in an attempt to grab your attention – the main one being character creation. Demon’s Rise gives you the option to create a party of six heroes by selecting from a mind boggling 25 classes. These range from your typical fantasy stand-ins like a Wizard, Fighter, Elf etc. to more obscure things like Samurai and Assassins. Things get properly freaky when you scroll past those boring dudes and get to the Minotaurs, Treemen, Ogres and, I kid you not, a fricken sentient, quadrupedal cannon. The devs certainly didn’t skimp when it came to creativity.
You’d think that having 25 unique classes, the ingame differences between them might not amount to much – maybe they spread themselves too thin. Surprisingly enough, you’d be wrong. Each class comes with six mostly unique abilities as well as unique combat statistics and movement characteristics making each one feel completely different. This gives you almost limitless possibilities when it comes to crafting your perfect team, and it feels great to go back and experiment with new formations. You can even bring multiples of each class (something I initially overlooked), meaning if you wanted six bloodthirsty minotaurs charging through each dungeon, you totally can.
Thankfully the combat itself is entertaining enough to accommodate the fascinating party assembly system. Each turn your characters can move and act based on how many movement and action points they have available. As turns go by, you will accumulate skill points allowing you to unleash your characters unique abilities, allowing for some strategic forethought. Somewhat surprisingly, the game even comes with a cover system, giving you the opportunity to hunker down behind debris to avoid enemy projectiles. The most interesting feature in Demon’s Rises combat however, is also its most unique – Morale. As combat progresses and damage is exchanged, characters and enemies, especially isolated ones, will eventually succumb to fear. This is not something that is visually tracked in game, which is a pain, but it adds an extra layer to the game’s depth.
It’s All Downhill From Here…
Unfortunately this is where the positives of Demon’s Rise come to a crashing halt. For all of its genuinely fantastic elements, there are more than enough negatives that severely hold the game back. For starters, it’s incredibly repetitive. This is in part due to the fact there is very little variety between each scenario. Sure the game packs a whopping fifty enemy types to chew through, but each map ends up being an incredibly samey thanks to its claustrophobic, dungeon aesthetic. Everything starts to blend together, and when there are over sixty scenarios to play through, you will get tired long before you reach the end.
This is made worse by how the game’s structured. You are not going through a dungeon, instead you are fighting some enemies before witnessing a loading screen and then fighting some more enemies until you run out of fights in your selection scenario. Each combat encounter is instanced, not linked. This means there is exploration, no world build and certainly no side content. It is all combat, all of the time. Well, that or navigating menus as you make your way towards combat.
Further compounding the issue is the game’s lacklustre controls. Despite being turn based and requiring little in terms of urgent response, the game’s controls still manage to feel incredibly clunky, arduous even. It simply feels unpleasant to control your party, and on occasion, the controls simply became unresponsive for no discernable reason. Speaking of which, Demon’s rise is not exactly the most stable of titles. I managed to bump into a number of mission breaking bugs and even the occasional crash during my playtime, and when the game is already feeling tedious, being forced to replay content certainly doesn’t do it any favours.
Finally the game presentation is simply terrible. Character models look decades old, easily landing in low-budget PS2 territory. Textures are hideous with skin looking like someone has stitched it over a series bizarre cubes. The treeman in particular is a hideous treat for the eyes. Animations are incredibly basic and completely fail to impart any sense of impact making it look like everyone is swinging wet noodles, not weapons. Clipping is also incredibly noticeable making everything look unfinished. Sound is slightly more impressive with a generic soundtrack that manages to at least fit the theme, but this is held back by the god awful voice acting. Characters will incessantly let out little quips during gameplay and the delivery of these lines is borderline painful at times. I actually replaced one of my wizards because of this.
Demon’s Rise – War For The Deep is a game that had a lot of potential. What it did right, was truly great. Being able to craft your perfect team from a bizarre roster of tropes and misfits was a joy, and the actual combat system is competent, but ultimately the game’s lack of polish kills it. Poor controls, repetitive gameplay and a few too many bugs brings it to its knees, leaving you with a less than mediocre experience at best. The game has oodles of heart, but that alone won’t save it.
Toast Seal Of Disapproval
Demon’s Rise isn’t a fantastic title, however if you want to check out some other games like it, then you can’t go wrong with Darkest Dungeon. Not quite the same genre, but it is rocking turn based combat, a variety of characters and an awful lot of dungeon delving.
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