Something about the art style of this title had me thinking of older arcade-style games I used to play with my friends, like Gauntlet. We spent a lot of time as kids holed up in a room with our consoles fighting monsters and collecting loot. The nostalgia of these types of games has never really worn off, but will Demon’s Tier+ scratch that same itch?
Spelunking through the winding caverns of the dark, underground dungeon, you will encounter myriad monsters. Each floor will have an objective to be met before you can descend to lower levels, and the objective, in true rogue-like fashion, is random every time. Objectives are usually pretty simple, like destroying all enemies on a floor, or detonating all of the bombs on that level. Apart from the objectives, another main focus is the collection of treasure.
Demon’s Tier+ has a type of currency called D-Tokens, which can be used to barter for items and level up skills and character parameters. Managing your resources and character progression is absolutely necessary to your success, because a beginning fighter cannot hope to smash through a demon horde with such peasanty stats. Strength can be upgraded, as well as things like speed and HP, which will help you more in the long run. After proceeding to the lowest level of an area, a boss creature can be fought, and the stats and abilities you upgraded after your victories on the previous floors will be integral in your fight.
Enemies will have patterns that can be learned and exploited, especially mobs with ranged abilities where your timing can be manipulated in order to score hits while avoiding damage. Some chests can drop healing items, which can definitely be helpful during a long journey through the depths. Even if you’ve cleared an area before, you can go back down and it will, of course, be different the next time, right down to the boss monster you’ll be facing. In a game where you will die a lot and be forced to try again, this keeps things fresh and challenging.
Death does result in the loss of your D-tokens and upgrades, but if you are able to get back to the point where you died, you’ll actually be able to collect your lost tokens from your gravestone. Should you perish before the stone is obtained, though, then those tokens will be lost forever. In town, you can purchase an escape rope should you feel that continuing onward is too perilous. While this does force you to begin your descent over from the very beginning, you do get to retain your tokens and upgrades and live to fight another day, stronger than if you were to start completely over.
We start out in the shoes of the Warrior, a serious-minded young man whose main focus is to find out why such a labyrinth exists below a seemingly innocent and sleepy village. Throughout your journey, you will learn about an old ruler named King Thosgar, who has allowed the dark and demonic forces to overcome him. By becoming the source of all evil in the world, its apparent that King Thosgar needs to be knocked down and buried once and for all, and it’s up to you and your band of friends to traipse through this hell hole and do the deed.
While the Warrior may be the pair of shoes you first start out in, you’ll eventually unlock the use of the other party members throughout your progression in the game. The spider-hating mage and the brutal berserker are my favorite of the troupe, but the Warrior himself, with his easy-to-learn playstyle and determined attitude, is an absolute treasure of a character to settle down with. The party will have small cutscenes where they will chat together and talk about their predicament, adding growth to each individual and showing off their personality.
I admittedly spent the most time as the berserker, fueled by my own desire to simply crush all of my enemies entirely. I identified pretty well with his own desire to simply take care of business and cut down on the side chatter and distractions. While the story plays out mostly in small cutscenes, there’s not a lot to it, but for a twin stick shooter style of RPG, I found that I didn’t miss big and involved story segments, instead really looking forward to getting back into the fray.
Demon’s Tier+ does something that not a lot of games do: it gives you the option to choose how to portray its graphics. The three different modes you can select from are CRT, retro, or high-res. For an old-school style game, this is a pretty cool feature. The graphics themselves are meant to be basic from a stylistic standpoint, but the ability to change things up is not only a surprise, but something I wish other retro-style games would include, too.
The art style of this title seems to be crafted with the tone of the game in mind. Above ground in the village, the world is bright and cheery. You wouldn’t have any idea of what lurks below in the chasm. Moving downward, the dungeons are dark and dank, lit here and there with torches and luminescent crystals that give off an eerie vibe. The creatures crawling through the cave system are varied in size and detail, with boss creatures being massive and incredibly scary looking in most circumstances. It seems like the entire world was created with world-building in mind.
Impressions and Conclusion
Demon’s Tier+ does a wonderful job at blending the rogue-like genre into twin stick shooting. The RPG elements are fun and give you a reason to want to horde D-Tokens and keep moving forward. I was happy to see that this is the third title of a loose trilogy of games, so it appears I’ll have two other things to look into to see how the series has evolved over time. I would recommend this game to anyone that happens to like twin stick shooter style games and doesn’t mind a darker tone in RPGs. The game does also support multiplayer, which can be incredibly helpful for moving forward quickly.
While I first approached this with multiplayer in mind, I found that I was never really tempted to beg my husband or my housemate to sit and help me out. I was definitely spurred forward by my own desires to simply destroy every demon I set my sights upon and hoard those sweet, glorious D-Tokens. Am I a bit sad about that? Not really. Demon’s Tier+ may not be what I first expected it to end up as, but it’s still a good experience, nonetheless.