Demon’s Crystals tells the story of the Urican Demons. Minding their own business, the Demons rule the place – but depend on their life source; the titular crystals. One day, three monsters show up and turn all of the peaceful creatures into mindless maniacs, wanting to destroy everything.
The crystals have been lost – so, as the Demons your job is to collect all of the crystals and kill everything. The story is a bit on the thin side, and it doesn’t really explain why you’d want to kill all of these creatures rather than hunt the boss down to save them, but still. In essence, Demon’s Crystals is a twin-stick shooter, and the plot serves only to justify the fact it exists.
It’s very much an arcade game – environments look pretty similar but are driven by a specific theme and split into levels (or really, stages). Each stage gets harder before culminating in a boss fight, and is split into two parts – a horde stage and a crystal collection. The goal for each of these is simple, for horde you must kill a certain number of enemies. For crystal collection, you must collect a certain number of crystals. Die, and you’ll need to start over.
Before you begin you can select one of the Demons to play as – who are basically anime cat girls but with demon horns instead of cat ears. The only difference is colour wings and clothes they wear, and you can level them up by playing with no discernable benefit other than a show of attrition. Controls once the game starts are very simple – left stick moves, right stick shoots. That’s it.
Fortunately, there are a few power ups you can collect. These are either time extensions or bullet changers – moving your standard shooting power to different styles of bursts or freeze rays, rockets etc which vary things up a little. Thankfully, the core gameplay is fun – it’s quick and interesting to look at which tick two of the initial boxes for any twin stick shooter. This is definitely a ‘fun’ game to look at – the first area for example is a Graveyard but rather go dank and serious, there are comedy zombies and skeletons running around with all sorts of vibrant colours.
Scenic elements help populate the levels but really cause more of a distraction as navigating enemies and bullets is hindered by small huts or gravestones which can be destroyed but make the levels feel a bit cluttered. One of the biggest issues I had however was the lack of any controller feedback when you’re getting hit. There are no visual clues either, so you’ll need to cast your eye over to your health bar frequently to check if you’re close to dying before you’re surprised with the game ending.
Despite the fun gameplay, the content is really shallow. There are leaderboards and co-op play is limited to offline fun with your buddies, with a few other modes to play on but essentially they are all variations of a theme. In terms of difficulty, the standard (lowest) is more than challenging enough actually which probably serves most to slow your progress through the game. At most, you’ll finish all of the content within a few hours.
Even though the game is short, and without much incentive to keep playing even after you factor the leaderboards in, Demon’s Crystals is justified by the low price tag. For a few pounds you can have a good few hours entertainment which is fun and not regrettable. Hopefully this will serve as a platform and some inspiration to the developers to flesh out the concept for a fuller sequal as they could do something with this given that the foundation is solid.
Reviewed on PS4