Demon’s Tier + takes the traditional ARPG, smashes it together with some rogue-lite elements, adds a little sprinkle of twin stick bullet hell shooting and cooks up a pretty tasty little game. Brought to fruition by Diabolical Mind and COWCAT Games, this indie gem shines bright.
The game drops players into a world where the king has gone mad after trying to gain immortality and infinite power. As one of eight hero’s based on the usual RPG tropes, it’s the players job to clear 15 dungeons and rid the land of his blight.
Gameplay works like a standard twin stick shooter – move with the left stick, shoot with the right. Each character also has a special skill and a “block” that surrounds the player with a shield and repels any ranged attacks. Treasure is scattered around each floor that can be used to boost stats at the end of each floor. This is sometimes a rune but is, more often than not, a nice shiny pile of gold. If you’re really lucky, it’s a scroll that contains a new weapon.
In true rogue-like fashion these stats are only boosted for the duration of the run. More permanent boosts can be added by venturing to the overworld and buying the weapons you’ve found from the blacksmith. There’s also a vendor who sells potions and other trinkets to help aid progress. Weapons and consumable require D tokens which are doled out for killing enemies and bosses.
There are three difficulty tiers that must be tackled in order to see the story fully unfold. The higher difficulties see an increased number of enemies and a greater difficulty in dispatching them. The increased numbers also leads to an increase of projectiles that will test even the best players dexterity. It can all get a bit hectic every now and again with all the projectiles flying about, but it’s worth persevering.
Each floor of the dungeon has a quest that must be completed to progress to the next one. This might be kill all enemies, destroy all the bombs, kill a specific enemy or open all the chests. It’s simple, but it gives things a nice change of pace. All of this is done on a five minute timer. Fail to complete the task within the allotted time and The Reaper will come and cut the run short. Thankfully you can run away, but as it can pass through walls, you’d better hope you have a route to the exit planned. On the lower difficulty I found the five minutes to be quite generous but at tier two and three, it was more challenging when asked to kill every enemy.
Thankfully, there are prisoners who have been locked up and can be freed to help even the odds. Should you meet a grisly end, it’s back to the over world and you’re stripped of everything and it’s back to the start. Mercifully, ropes can be used at any time to get out and stock up on consumables again or to upgrade to a better weapon.
Each of the available characters has different stats that affect gameplay. For example – the knight is the best all round character with a good balance of speed, damage and hit points. The archer on the other hand, has a great speed and range but is a bit more squishy. Everyone will find their favourite that suits their play style. Investing in the right balance at the end of each level is also the key to success. However, some of them felt a little extraneous and some of the benefits weren’t tangible. Spending heavily on damage, range, hit points and defence seemed to help the most.
Initially there are six to choose from, with two being locked until tier one and tier two are completed. Each of them have a variety of weapons that must be found and paid for so it adds a bit of longevity to the game.
The game is presented in a retro pixel art style that looks like a cross between Gauntlet and Diablo. It’s dark and creatures lurk in every corner, with only a torch to light the way. The player and enemy models are small but well detailed and each has a lot of character. However, their diminutive size means that it’s easy to lose them in the environment. Bosses on the other hand, are large and sometimes screen filling. It’s just a shame they are so poorly animated. It was also nice to see each floor follow a different theme and bring a new variety of enemies with them.
Overall, Demon’s Tier + is a fun title that will fill several hours. Once the patterns and general flow of the game are sussed out, large sections of it become quite easy. There are some difficulty spikes and which slow progress but it’s easy and quick to jump back in. A lot of the randomness that hinders rogue-likes has also been removed which makes this much more accessible. The retro aesthetics and gameplay are extremely welcome and a quick ten minutes can easily turn into a few hours of fun.
- Easy to learn
- Lots of replayability
- Characters and enemies can be a bit small
- Poor animation on bosses