Humans are strange beings. For some reason, we like to torment ourselves by playing extremely difficult and demanding titles that we normally consider “brutal”. FromSoftware made a living making games of this type and their work has inspired many others like indie studio Ludus Future that has now released Demon Skin, an incredible hack and slash that leaves no one indifferent.
For the past few days at Gamereactor we’ve been researching this dark fantasy game, which has resulted in us losing our composure and serenity more than once. And in the end we came to the conclusion that although it contains many solid elements, sometimes they become its worst enemies.
The story of Demon Skin takes place in a fantasy world full of creepy demons. Here we play as a member of the Order of Wanderers – an ancient organization of beings with supernatural powers who fight against hordes of evil. After witnessing and trying to stop a dark ritual aimed at awakening the evil force that houses a powerful relic, our wanderer is trapped in a flow of energy that turns him into a demon. Well, as the story progresses, we will travel through a dark world full of obstacles and challenges to find the relic that will allow our protagonist to regain his natural state, although he will have to face all the dead to do so. Living beings, demons and monsters that cross your path.
As the brutal hack and slash it is, in many moments we will have to tear apart and destroy the demons we encounter with different kinds of weapons. However, since this is a side scrolling adventure, the battle isn’t as broad or diverse as we’d like it to be. Aside from hitting from left and right, the three positions our walker can take to hit enemies in three different ways are one of the game’s greatest attractions: from above, from below and from the front. Switching from one to the other is also quite easy. Just move the mouse up and down to change your destination. These simple mechanics allow us to perform some very ingenious combos, block enemies easily and even exploit the weak points of those who wear armor. Aside from that and an alternate mechanic, of course, there isn’t much else we can do in combat.
However, we found a little more variety with the enemies. On the one hand there are the classic skeletons or zombies, many of which have multiple layers of armor that protect them from certain attacks and with a health bar that we have to reduce in order to defeat them. On the other hand, there are the unique enemies who are even more of a challenge. One of the first ones we come across is a yeti-like creature capable of sweeping attacks, hitting the ground, and having a large pool of health, which makes combat quite difficult and difficult. On top of all of these creatures, there are giant spiders, flaming demons, and even powerful humanoid beings that we must see them with too.
Aside from combat, this adventure also features some platform challenges that force us to jump and roll to avoid obstacles. However, they have the same problems as fighting: they are very slow. Quite a common problem with these types of games (especially the Dark Souls series), but since many of them are 3D titles, it’s easier to scroll and move around with no problem. Demon skin is two-dimensional, much more difficult to control, and complicates things when we try to take advantage of our movements, especially when fighting enemies who are making ranged attacks.
In general, the biggest problem we’ve encountered at Demon Skin is slowness. Both in combat and on platforms, this slowness can detract from the emotions of the experience, which shouldn’t happen in a game where we’ll die so often. The truth is that it is a shame as it has a progression system and loot, so little by little our protagonist becomes a formidable and strong warrior. Of course, it will only happen if we are able to deal with the slowness that characterizes it.
On the other hand, as we said before, the progression system is fantastic and very diverse. In order to advance in the game we can do this in several ways: from collecting weapons that we can find on the spot to add them to our inventory (some may even have special powers), to using the skill points we have achieved, to improve our attack strength, health, or resistance (which allows us to make a greater number of attacks before we need to recover). Additionally, there are the famous relic fragments that we will have to restore throughout history that will change the appearance of our wanderer when added to his bone armor – although the latter is still a mere cosmetic change.
Given that Demon Skin is quite short, the advances it offers, and its stance-based combat system, we can say it’s a one of a kind experience. The problem is, it doesn’t kill us, mostly because you have to go back to the final checkpoint every time you die. When you are ready to live this adventure you get the idea that you will have to repeat some parts of the level many times as you will die every two times three, either by the edge of the sword or by an obstacle in the area. such as spines protruding from the ground. In short, if you want to put your skills to the test and take on a real challenge, you will like this title, but don’t expect it to be a hack and slash experience that can rival the SoulsBorne series .