Demon Turf Review: To Love a Jump (PC)

Welcome to a world where platforming reigns! Demon Turf is an adventure with attitude, starring Beebz in her goal of taking down the Demon King and ruling over the domain. For those fond of the procedural jump and shoot method of travel, this is one not to miss.

Demon Turf Review: To Love a Jump (PC) Cover

With all the games currently available to players today, it can be hard to stick out without doing something revolutionary. Coupled with the vast variety of genres, experimentation, and the evolution of the industry, it’s all the harder. In a way, this leads to individual players needing to determine the kind of “identity” they have when it comes to what they enjoy. Some enjoy more casual, freeing experiences, such as Animal Crossing. Others are more hardcore, thirsting for challenges the likes of Demon’s Souls. When it comes time for titles such as Demon Turf to establish their hook, they need to have personality and attitude. Fortunately, it does so with an earnest that transcends its indie status.

Should that not be enough, it also does something revolutionary! (Kind of.) Demon Turf is instantly identifiable by its dimensional distortion, mixing a 3D world with 2D sprites and characters. Given its heavy platforming prowess, it adds a distinct layer of challenge to ensure each move is done with foresight. And take it from me, as one born and bred on the Nintendo platformer: much foresight will be necessary. With extraordinary style and intense platforming challenges promised, this becomes equally easy and difficult to recommend after a hefty amount of hours.

Demon Turf is available to purchase on Switch, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series X|S, and PC via Steam for your regional pricing.

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Story – One Kid’s Goal

Plopped down almost immediately, one plays as Beebz, a demon kid openly challenged by the Demon King within a dream. She will have to make use of her inherent abilities to traverse her way through maze-like stages full of dangers and baddies.

Upon waking up, she takes it upon herself to challenge the Demon King for real, regardless of whether the dream was a vision of reality. Given her tender age of one-thousand, most are in disbelief that Beebz is capable of posing a threat. Undeterred, she makes her way around various worlds with the help of her comrade, Midgi, and to the chagrin of Luci, a servant of the King.

For the most part, Demon Turf‘s story isn’t one that will impact the whole’s worth. Fairly straightforward in execution and a little light on details—most NPCs have one or two lines max, for example—it’s a serviceable tale of ambition from an unexpected source. Big things come in small packages; a ten-year-old is going to stop a criminal organization and become the Pokémon champion. That sort of thing. While it subtly develops upon the completion of each world, there’s not too much there to keep one engaged.

Collect the candy to progress!

Collect the candy to progress!

Characters, however, fare a little better. Midgi is a bit too much of an exposition dumper, but he has the “sidekick character” role down pat. Immensely supportive, in a naive child sort of way, he’s instrumental in guiding Beebz (and the player) through the game. Beebz herself is a spirited girl with a confrontational attitude, never backing down to a challenge or selling herself short. Confidence can go a long way with video game characters—Beebz is a likable lead in short bursts, which is perfect because she rarely speaks without first being spoken to. The benefit of her sassiness is that it occurs exactly when it needs to, without going overboard.

Yet what remains most intriguing are the cracks below Beebz’ persona. While sporadic, she shows signs of losing confidence that her age especially would realistically showcase. How much she cares about how she comes across, or of the support she receives from figures around her. There’s an almost transparent layer of sentimentality to the journey that evokes some unexpected wholesomeness. For a game so ingrained in demonic imagery and set pieces, littered with imposing threats that spit venom and champion unquestionable domination, it can be rather sweet.

Gameplay – Might As Well Jump

I’ll jump right to the chase in this section: If you love platforming, you will love Demon Turf. End review.

Jokes aside, without question the strength of this game lies in its platforming challenges. A progressive pipeline of levels dedicated to the theme of the environment that encourage experimentation and speed. In fact, it rewards speed with a trophy if stages are completed quickly enough. A large variety of different things to account for—though initially a little overwhelming—allow the game to experiment as much with level layout as the player can to exploit it.

Do you even gram, bro?

Do you even gram, bro?

How much one can do is also rather flexible. Jumps, double-jumps, mid-air spins, super jumps, consecutive jumping boosts, flip-jumps, and special abilities one is rewarded by defeating bosses, like the grappling hook or glide ability. An impressive repertoire of movement options keep the gameplay invigorating and satisfying. I ended up so dedicated to the pursuit of excellence that I was replaying levels twice or thrice over to get the fastest speed I could. Fans of the platformer will have little issue picking this up and immediately getting sucked in. 

In time, however, it became pretty clear that the developers wanted to give players the absolute biggest bang for their buck. Levels can sprawl to occasionally substantial lengths, with a few stages taking as long as 15-20 minutes to complete the first time around. While not a constant battle, there were times where I thought to myself, “Wow, this is a lot to go through.” On top of length, the challenges one is expected to conquer can feel somewhat overwhelming. When I said fans of platformers will have little issue picking this up, the inverse is also true: those not totally keen on it will likely struggle to find reason to push further.

This issue was likely anticipated by the developers, as they incorporated things to keep things moving. The first are checkpoint flags, which can be placed (almost) anywhere in the level to serve as teleport points and, well, checkpoints. Proper placement at regular intervals will prevent players from having to go through frustrating parts of the level over again… you just have to remember the option is there. Making one’s own checkpoints also allows for travel back through the stage in case you may have missed a collectible of some sort (by the way, there are collectibles in each stage).

It's a long way down.

It’s a long way down.

Secondly, there are a large variety of accessibility settings in the options menu. Instead of just a basic difficulty slider, Demon Turf allows players to gauge a substantial amount of aspects to the game pertaining to difficulty, visuals, audio, etc. While my pride did not allow for any such tinkering, the choice being there for those struggling is a gracious help. And these two points combined help in making the game more fair to those of all skill levels.

With such a strong emphasis on platforming, one would think that’s all there’d be to Demon Turf. One would be wrong: there is much to do in this game! For example, one can also fight. Beebz can shoot these sort of energy palms out of her hands to beat up baddies that seek to destroy her. Whether multiple jabs or one charged-up strike, she’s capable of holding her own.

Unfortunately, combat is not nearly as satisfying as platforming, as it’s not nearly as expansive. Mostly, one is pushing rather than damaging, with the goal of knocking foes into these red death spikes. Getting enemies to line up with them, almost like playing Billiards, is often a chore and, occasionally, completed out of dumb luck. Playing through a combat-only arena mode within the central hub makes this wholly apparent.

Talk to the hand.

Talk to the hand.

On the topic of the central hub, there are a variety of side things to do here, too. Whether taking pictures of specific things, playing a Demon Turf version of golf, finding arcade cartridges, or spending sweet currency on goodies, there’s more to this than just jumping. However, when compared to the game’s main draw, much of this feels pretty superfluous. Perhaps a neat thing to come back to when all is said and done, but I found myself ignoring just about everything after trying them once. That is, after giving Beebz white hair. I think she rocks it.

Graphics & Audio – Fifty Shades of Red

What initially stand out most about Demon Turf is its dimensional shifting. With camerawork aplenty, one can clearly see a vast, 3D world with characters prominently placed within the 2D space. While this is a novelty when first introduced, it’s quickly displaced with a sense of normalcy—I couldn’t see this game looking any other way. Intriguingly enough, it eventually becomes secondary to the overall vibe of the environments.

Some of the best things about the greatest platformers of all time—the Mario’s and Donkey Kong’s of the world—is their collection of striking set pieces. It’d be so easy for the developers to set this entire game in a purple-red atmosphere of pseudo-Hell without batting an eye. Instead, they went above and beyond in providing tons of different worlds of different tones. Sunny beaches, toxic waste dumps, expansive mountain regions, sunset-adorned cliffsides, dark-neon suburbs; so much visual eye candy is condensed into a complete package of adventuring goodness. Even with some bloat, I’m overjoyed with the multitude of sights that one can absorb along the way.

A cute testing area.

A cute testing area.

In-game character models, though, don’t fare quite as well. The promotional artwork for the game is gorgeous, with a sort an energy all of its own. What players will find when jumping in is much simpler, almost sidewalk chalk-drawings that don’t lack for personality. Minor point as it may be, it’s a little disheartening that it doesn’t compare to the world these models inhabit.

One other noteworthy aspect involves depth perception, which can sometimes be fickle. For a platformer, this is a substantial detriment, especially one with a heavy emphasis on precise landings. The dimensional positioning and combination can occasionally make it hard to gauge where one will land. While the game makes note to always check Beebz’ shadow before landing, certain sections of more difficult levels make it harder to gauge on a split-second level. It ends up a clear detriment to an otherwise very balanced incorporation of dimensional shifting.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the soundtrack when jumping into Demon Turf. Maybe it’d be cheery and optimistic, or more frenetic with some light ambiance. The reality was a little of both, with something of a niche collection of nostalgic sounds for different reasons.

Lots of record-scratching, “boppy” beats, and indecipherable beat-boxing and utterances. It goes for a “cool” vibe, with a style somewhat reminiscent of Splatoon. Presenting a youthful, smooth soundtrack to the general areas, while a little more “on-brand” for areas going for a specific theme. While not quite to my tastes, it gives more to the attitude that the game tries to embellish early on.

Demon Turf was reviewed on PC via Steam.

You could say that Demon Turf is one Hell of a time. So much variety in worlds and challenges. Heavy emphasis on speed, flexibility, and experimentation. With all the freedom afforded to the player, Demon Turf manages to be a generally great platformer-adventure with just enough on the side to keep things eventful and fresh. If not for some bloated level design, and with heavier polish on outside elements such as combat, this would be a bonafide classic. Even now, it's a phenomenal option for platformer fanatics new and old.
  • A platforming utopia
  • Environments are varied and colorful
  • Many accessibility options
  • Tons of options for traversing levels quickly
  • Some levels have a lot of bloat
  • Depth perception can be a little finicky
  • Most gameplay additives don't compare to the platforming

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