The Devil Is In The Details
HIGH Holy hell, these visuals.
LOW The camera can be a bit finicky.
WTF Why hasn’t this aesthetic been attempted before?
I’ve reviewed plenty of third-person 3D platformers for GameCritics. Being one of my favorite genres, if not the favorite, it’s easy to spot the common tropes and ideas that make their way into this style of game. Most feature an adorable mascot, a supernatural force trying to take over the world, and a ton of collectibles that gate progression. On the surface, Demon Turf checks those boxes and then some. What sets it apart, however, is the visual style.
Players control Beebz, a young demon who finds herself restoring balance to her home, the Demon World. She does so by entering each of its “turfs” and clearing them, one by one. All of this is presented in an absolutely gorgeous aesthetic — characters are animated in 2D while the environments are rendered in 3D. Played from a third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective, the visuals are trippy in an absolutely incredible way. The amount of detail on Beebz’s character model is impressive, and her animations when she attacks or jumps are equally impressive.
Gameplay-wise, Demon Turf is a fairly standard platformer. Players traverse 3D environments and run, jump and occasionally fight their way through various levels. Similar to its influences, Beebz is tasked with collecting a MacGuffin in each level that she accesses from a central hub. After each level is completed, she’s ready to face a boss. It’s fairly standard stuff that would be right at home on older consoles like the Nintendo 64, though that’s not a bad thing.
The actual act of platforming feels good thanks to responsive controls and some fairly comprehensive accessibility options. One of my favorite features was being able to place checkpoint flags at any point in the level. While limited in number, using one before a tricky jump was great. Other options include unlimited lives, disabling time limits, and even tweaking the overall difficulty. Those obsessed with speedrunning will also be happy to learn that Demon Turf has a variety of options for that crowd as well.
Aside from jumping, Demon Turf offers a host of physics-based puzzles and combat scenarios. Beebz is able to punch with what appears to be a telekinetic fist, allowing her to push objects and enemies back. This proves useful for switches and levers that require a heavy object. The combat is fairly simplistic, with small enemies that can either be pushed off ledges or flung into spikes. Boss battles are where all of Beebz’ acquired skills get put to use, thanks to different attack patterns and weak spots that players need to look out for. The scale of these fights is impressive, and I love the designs on the bosses. One early battle had me fighting a large pig-like demon, using my grappling hook to detach its pieces of armor. It was quite the setpiece!
While I enjoyed the experience greatly overall, I will say that the flashy visual style would occasionally interfere with the camera, as Beebz’s 2D appearance would mess with the perspective and timing of certain jumps. Since she is rendered almost like a flat, still image, it was awkward trying to land tricky platforming. It also took a bit of time to get used to the way Beebz moves around in the world, with the 2D/3D perspective looking a little weird. However, I did appreciate having the option to have the camera automatically follow her (as opposed to a free camera) which ensured that the action was always in focus.
Demon Turf doesn’t rewrite the rules of 3D mascot-style platformers. Its design is standard fare for the genre and I had some issues with the camera, but the visual style remains one of the strongest I’ve seen in any game all year. In an era where so many titles are visually indistinguishable from one another, it’s nice to see an indie try something new and wow me on visuals alone.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Disclosures: This game is published by Playtonic Games and developed by Fabraz. It is available on PS4/5, XBO/X/S and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS5. Approximately 15 hours were spent in the single-player and the game was not completed.
Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated E10 for Fantasy Violence. The official description reads as follows: This is a platformer game in which players assume the role of a demon trying to become a queen by defeating the Demon World’s leaders. From a third-person perspective, players traverse platform environments while punching, pulling, and spinning enemies (e.g., robots, demons). Players use their spin attacks as well as grappling hooks to pull and smash enemies that generally cry out and evaporate into smoke when killed. Boss battles involve more protracted, close-up violence, sometimes depicting cannons that shoot fiery projectiles at players.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles and on-screen instructions cannot be adjusted, but audio is not needed to enjoy this game thanks to the abundance of visual cues. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: Yes the controls are remappable.