Interesting Combat, Linear Problems

HIGH Unique combat system.

LOW Glitches on boss fights.

WTF That damn avalanche jumping section.

Ever wonder what a Dark Souls-style game would be like if it was more of a 2D brawler? Well, look no further, because Demon Skin tries (and fails) to answer that question.

According to the game’s official website, the main character is named Roy. Roy is a member of the Orden of Wanderers, a group tasked to fight monsters. When Roy was chasing down some Chaos Monsters, a portal emerged and he followed them through. On the other side was a burning village and three factions duking it out. Roy discovers there is an Ancient Evil Crystal in this village, so he decides to destroy it. Instead, a beam of light comes down from the sky, turning Roy into a demon. Now he is on a mission to return to his warrior form.

While this might seem like a good starting point for an adventure, none of this is told in Demon Skin itself. Some painterly cutscenes detail the events, but information on Roy and his order isn’t included at all. It might be that the game reveals this later, but it comes off as confusing since there’s no real direction for the character at the start, other than to move forward and kill monsters.  Also, items don’t have descriptions, just stats, so there’s nothing to glean from those either.

Mechanically, Demon Skin has its 2D brawler combat down pretty well, and its stance/defense system shines. Roy can hold a weapon in high, medium, or low stance, so if an enemy comes in swinging mid and Roy’s weapon is there, it will block the attack. The reverse is true for when Roy attacks. Taking a cue from Souls, different weapons change the amount of stamina Roy uses when attacking and how much defense Roy will have. It seems to work pretty well, as long as the player is aware of where their cursor is at since facing off against enemies gives the player a quick indicator of where the enemy is going to strike. With fast reflexes, the player can easily block attacks and follow up with a few strikes of their own. In my experience, the encounters were more strategic than button-mashy.

Dodgerolling and platforming are also a part of Demon Skin, but the jumping can be a bit goofy. The latency on the jump or getting it to even register when needed can be hit or miss, and always annoying. In particular there was a section when Roy needed to escape an avalanche, and it took me a ridiculous amount of time to nail everything perfectly and get through to the next section.

Sadly, each level is as linear as it can get. There is no backtracking after getting stronger or with more abilities, and while there are hidden treasure chests throughout each level giving Roy more health potions or a new weapon, any new powers gained are just tied to combo attacks and nothing more. Leveling up is also very simple. Each time Roy gets stronger, the player can choose to put skill points into Strength, Stamina, or Health. It’s all as basic as it gets.

After about six hours with Demon Skin, I think I’m done. Overall it’s just too simplistic, and it felt like I was repeating content far too soon. Sure, there are are new enemies and new areas, but ultimately it feels like a samey sort of ride that has players constantly jumping over spikes, battling similar monsters and leveling up basic stats. There’s just not enough new content, story or ideas here that make me want to continue the push to the end.

Rating: 4 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Ludus Future and published by Buka Entertainment. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated and contains BloodViolence, and Language. There is a lot of killing of monsters, decapitation, and blood splatter. 

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles cannot be altered or resized. Any audio cues indicating enemy attacks are shown onscreen. This game is fully accessible.  

Remappable Controls: This game offers fully remappable controls on PC, but if a controller is used as a peripheral then its controls are not able to be remapped.

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