It’s not often you go into a game with absolutely no prior exposure or pre-release hype. Usually you see trailers or artwork about a game prior to receiving it, but somehow Demon’s Crystals managed to completely miss my radar before I received it. There’s probably good reason for that.
Demon’s Crystals doesn’t try to hide what it is. It’s a very simple twin-stick arcade shooter and nothing more. Although lacking any depth of plot, the game does offer a short three paragraph intro to the world and four characters at the beginning of the game. Each character is presented as a demonic anime character that you can choose from at the start of the game. All four characters do have a levelling system as you progress through the arcade mode, but the levelling has no effect on the characters or game-play.
Game-play is as shallow as the plot, although that is not necessarily a bad thing. Only the two thumb sticks are used for game-play; the left for movement and right to aim. The games simple controls make it a very accessible game, but also like a direct port of a mobile app.
While most recent arcade titles have drawn inspiration from old 16-bit gaming, Demon’s Crystals misses the mark. Character models don’t look developed enough to be a game from a current generation system, and aren’t a throwback to previous generations, resulting in an awkward middle ground. Even the audio is limited, with a single track made for the menu and then one for each different world played on repeat.
Demon’s Crystals is broken up into three different game modes: single and co-op arcade, survival, and multiplayer. The core mechanics for the game stay consistent between each game mode. As you work through each wave, various weapon buffs and mods will drop to assist you in taking down the hordes of enemies.
Arcade allows up to four players to go through the three different worlds over eight levels each. Each level is broken up into different hordes where you destroy enemies, collect crystals, or sometimes both before the timer runs out. Demon’s Crystals difficulty fails to remain consistent throughout the arcade game mode, spiking in difficulty randomly from level to level and then dropping for the boss battles. While some of the levels offer a challenge by limiting your time and then making you avoid items on the ground, the boss levels are so simple to defeat they don’t feel like any real achievement. Defeating each boss does unlock that world to use in other game modes, however.
Survival mode was the most enjoyable time I had with Demon’s Crystals. Giving you endless hordes of enemies to fight and every unlockable in the game a chance to drop, it shows how simple controls and mechanics can be enjoyable. Unfortunately this doesn’t save the game as a whole.
Additional to the arcade co-op, Demon’s Crystals also offers six different competitive multiplayer game modes; Crystal Quest, Seize the Large Crystal, Kill the Enemies, Versus, Deathmatch, and Survival. All six games modes are playable with up to four players. Unfortunately there is no online support at all and you are limited to playing on the same system. Due to the lack of online multiplayer I was unable to really give it a try.
Despite its short-comings and shallow offerings, Demon’s Crystals is an adequate quick arcade experience. Its simple game-play is enjoyable and worth a quick look at, considering the price. I see it as a great game for quick couch multiplayer sessions – something that’s been sorely missed from gaming recently.
Reviewed On: Xbox One