Review: 'Demon's Crystals' (PS4)

Review: 'Demon's Crystals' (PS4) BADLAND GAMES

It can be hard to nail down a certain genre or style you want a game to go in. If you're gearing to the 'Rated E for Everyone' or younger crowd, then cartoons will be good. If you want fans of anime of Japanese style art, make it that way. If you want a few of the crowds, make a mix that's seamless and bounces off each other nicely. But have too much, it's like having too many cooks. Demon's Crystals shows this in many ways.

As the story goes, it's almost bare bones. You control one of a handful of Uricans - female, elf, angel creatures – with the goal to defeat hordes. Really. That's about it. You go shooting down enemies in hordes, you collect crystals or you do both. And with higher difficulty levels, you do more of that. There really wasn't much here. That's all you do. I was expecting so much more from the game for a story, but that's it.

Since this was a port from Steam last year, controls meant that it had to go from keyboard to a controller. Not that it wasn't too complicated. A button to shoot, a joystick or two to run around and that's all you need. And for controls, they weren't bad. They worked well for the PS4. There's not much going on, so it's not very complicated.

The graphics are polarizing to say the least. It's a top down view at an angle, so it can pull design tricks to not make it 100% 3D. On the good side are all buildings and floors and trees. They're a little last gen, but they hold up well in a cartoony way. Plus it's environment reactive. If you use a power up or have fire nearby, it will glow in accordance. Plus, all the different colors make it eye-catching. Some levels almost look like parts are bathed in neon.

But on the bad side, the characters are not well made. Enemy zombies and what have you look like they're from the PS2, and your character is running around like a slightly underpolished PS3 character. It's a mix of different qualities and styles (You're generally more anime-ish, enemies are copy/paste cartoons, and the environment is between realistic and a well-rendered cartoon, with things like your 'bullets' being 100% modern graphics. There are some good points, but it's mostly a big mishmash of colors and styles and clarity.

Gameplay is pretty easy. Run around and shoot things coming in hordes. Occasionally you can use a power up. Different enemies move at different speeds in trying to kill you, or fight in different ways, and it does get strategic at times – but mostly the strategy is where to run to keep shooting without getting attacked yourself. With other players it could be more team based to draw enemies out and ambush, but it's generally the same idea.

The music in the game is hard to describe. Think Action, plus classic James Bond, plus Tangerine Dream synthesizer, with a tinge of Japanese techno and cartoon-like horror game jingles at times. Honestly, I liked it, and in the midst of fighting, it made you want to fight more. Sounds are where it drops off though. For all these demons and killing, you get cutesy sounds. Like the level up sound is a glittery chirp, and the end of a hoard complete sound sounds like it's pulled from an N64 game. Getting a life elicits a chicken bawk for some reason. The sounds work, but like many things in the game, it's really mixed.

While there were no frame rate issues, I did encounter problems here and there glitch-wise. Sometimes the crystal counter didn't count crystals I picked up, or enemies would spawn, and instead of running after me, they would run in place like a reverse moonwalk. They didn't happen often, but they were still there from time to time.

Demon's Crystals is a game that doesn't know what it wants to do. Is it horror? Anime? Fantasy? Action? Cartoon? It went all over the place and never settled on anything. The idea of a game where you run around shooting with friends and thinking up plans so no one dies is often used, but has shown to be stalwart. But there are many better executions than Demon's Crystals. The bad and (mostly) confusing outweighed the good.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.

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