Demon’s Tier+ feels like that unexpected gift you receive on your birthday. It wasn’t necessarily a present you asked for, but somehow you’re pleasantly surprised and enjoy it so much that it’s taken the spotlight away from your other gifts. This was my experience playing through Demon’s Tier+ that is honestly a beyond satisfying retro experience that I was not expecting at first glance. Demon’s Tier+ takes traditional dungeon crawling and makes you dash furiously throughout the underground dungeon, battling demonic minions. Plus, CowCat Games haven’t just brought the twin-stick shooter to PS4, but PS Vita too, which is pretty neat that the little guy is still getting game releases in 2020.
The story starts from the backdrop of a corrupt and volatile king named Thosgar, whose wicked deeds have put humanity at the brink of chaos. I’m sure it will come as no surprise; quite often in these tales, a hero emerges and eventually defeats the rogue king. Over a thousand years have passed and now a hole has emerged from the ground in a quaint village. The underground passage has different tiers within the dungeon. It is down to a group of heroes to quest onward though these arcadia medieval walls and battle with Thosgar’s demons once again.
There are six playable-characters to start with that have varying stats, with an additional two characters becoming available when progressing further into the game. These characters are displayed through anime aesthetic in cut-scenes, alongside retro 16-bit pixel art which overall gives you some old school JRPG vibes.
Honestly, the story and the characters are not the most engaging element of this game; it’s the addictive and quick-thinking on your feet gameplay that draws you in. Your chosen hero will enter the hazardous pit and encounter a randomly generated dungeon with many demonic creatures prowling amongst the tier floors. Moving with the left analogue stick you’ll manoeuvre yourself throughout the dungeons whilst flicking weaponry at these demonic beings with the right analogue stick. To progress to the next floor of the dungeon, you will be given a random mission to complete. These tasks can range from defeating all the demons lurking on that floor to opening every single chest.
Simple enough, right? Well, you’re only given five minutes to complete each task. This may sound like more than enough time to achieve these tasks. However, during the beginning segments of the game, trust me – it will not be enough time to get everything done and avoid death. Literally, as when your five minutes are up a reaper will appear and chase you down to ensure your run is over. The game is fully aware of this trial and error cycle as the item ‘magic rope’ can help you escape a dungeon tier at any given point, even when the reaper is nearby.
Every time you enter a dungeon your character will only start with their default stats. From here, you gain and find gold and D-Tokens. Gold collected through opening chests will help improve your stats during that run. However, if you leave that dungeon tier you’re stats will return to normal once again. This is where collecting D-Tokens will come into play, as defeating demons will garner D-Tokens that can be used back at village to exchange and purchase items, characters and weapons. This will in-turn aid you to tackle these pesky tiers and adds a tactical level to the gameplay.
Inevitably, there is only one way to ensure you can guarantee to get all the D-Tokens back with you to the village – by getting out alive. If you die all the D-Tokens you are carrying will be lost. Brutal! Thankfully, next time you descend back into the dungeon you will have one opportunity to retrieve your goodies back. I never thought I would be thankful for a game indoctrinating a Dark Souls mechanic, but here we are.
After so many floors of the dungeon, you will encounter a boss battle. Ironically, these boss battles are not as strenuous as the regular floors. More due to the fact the boss battles have routines you can learn to secure victory very swiftly compared to the randomly generated floors. Perhaps in parallel to the rest of the game, the boss battles are simplistic. After defeating every boss battle, you enter a new area of the dungeon tier that have very distinctive theme’s ranging from fire pits of lava to environmental spider web infected chambers that can slow down your hero’s pace. Throughout the entirety of the game, there are three tiers to crash down through, with each one having many floors to conquer.
One of my favourite features of the game is the fact that you can play alongside someone in couch-co-op. The fun of toing and froing, when is best to escape the tier, and how to allocate gold and D-Tokens lead to an immersive experience whilst playing alongside someone else. It’s certainly the best way to experience the game in my opinion. It really did take me back to the 16-bit era of shutting off to the outside world and getting lost playing alongside a second player. The best part is the trophy list is co-op friendly. If you play the game from beginning to end with your couch co-op companion you should both achieve the platinum at the same time.
It may be evident playing through Demon’s Tier+ that the game takes heavy inspiration from arcade classics such as Gauntlet, but by no means is it defined by it. Adventuring through different tiers of the dungeon floors you get a real sense of progression each time from its addictive cycle loops. This may sound repetitive, especially as you go from zero to hero every single time. However, you become acquainted with the concept of starting each dungeon run with the default stats and enjoy the challenge. Nevertheless, the game excels in its two-player couch co-op and couple that with the game launching at an incredibly reasonable price – this is a must-have game for fans of the genre.
Demon's Tier+ PS4 Review
- Overall - Fantastic - 8/108/10
It’s not often a game can take you back in time yet feel completely different. However, with its great 16-bit pixel art and quaint spin on the twin-stick shooter genre, Demon’s Tier+ has incredibly exceeded all expectations.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.