3D platformers don’t come around too often on Xbox, and so a new one is always welcome. Demon Turf is far from being a run of the mill, as it takes several risks with its unique gameplay systems and level design, and for the most part these risks pay off to create something genuinely original and fun. When it comes to sheer originality in almost every aspect, you’d be hard pressed to find anything that stands out more than Demon Turf.
The game has a cool ‘90s attitude going for it, and it’s the kind of vibe almost commonplace in platformers back in the good old days, except Demon Turf turns this up several notches for good measure. Here we have a young demon by the name of Beebz and she’s got a score to settling with the reigning king of the demon world, and with the help of her friends she’s looking to become the queen of the demon realm herself.
The storyline is delivered through charming and comedic writing; set in a game world which simply oozes with style and personality. The various character designs standout, and the soundtrack has a cool edge to it as well. This is just a fun setting to lose yourself in, and the art direction and charming character designs alone will win you over. The visual presentation has flat 3D hand-drawn character models occupying a 3D game world, but this is more than just a stylistic choice, as it also extends to the game design as well.
Demon Turf definitely takes a risk by situating 2D style mechanics in a 3D world. Granted, the character is versatile enough to function in a 3D movement, but with nowhere near the same level of smoothness. There is a learning curve involved here, but thankfully the game starts out with a comprehensive tutorial to teach you all of the nuances.
The thing with Demon Turf is that, for the most part, it implements the precision of 2D play mechanics quietly convincingly in this 3D space. But it can take a fair bit of getting used to. For one thing, it can be tricking to navigate narrow paths or land exactly as you want after a jump. Thankfully, the core play mechanics are quite nuanced as Beebz is versatile in how she is able to move around. The real joy to uncover is that much like the best games in the genre, such as A Hat in Time, Beebz can perform variations of the double jump, jump off walls, and even learn new abilities throughout the adventure.
There is a level of skill and mastery involved which can be quite satisfying as you gradually navigate tricky platforming segments with greater finesse. The level design eases you into it, and things get crazier as you go along, but thankfully the organic level flow prepares you adequately for what’s to come. Even when it may seem like the mechanics are working against you, know that the level of nuance within them enables you to improve and gain a gradual and satisfying proficiency.
The game progression in Demon Turf follows a structure similar to any 3D platformer, with a main hub world consisting of smaller stages to be completed, with a set number of batteries needing to be collected before other sections open up. It’s a pace similar to what Xbox players would have experienced in the likes of Yooka-Laylee or Super Lucky’s Tale.
The stage design is challenging, and there are certain platforming sections which will really test your skills. When it comes to notoriously difficult platformers like Crash Bandicoot 4, there’s nothing more infuriating than having to restart on a checkpoint that’s far too early in the stage. Demon Turf has some trying moments too, and yet it implements a feature that is both simple and absolute genius, which is the ability to set your own checkpoints. If there’s one segment which took you a little effort to get through, then it’s probably a good idea to place a checkpoint right after. While the number of checkpoints you can place are indeed limited, it is no doubt a godsend feature and shows how much foresight the development team had.
Demon Turf is a stylistic and experimental 3D platformer which dares to try new things, and for the most part it succeeds in its ambitious ideas, especially in its quirky yet satisfying play mechanics. Implementing 2D platformer conventions within a 3D world was never going to be easy, but Demon Turf manages to pull it off with plenty of style and endearing level design.
Demon Turf is available from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S