STAFF REVIEW of Demon Turf (Xbox One)

Friday, November 19, 2021.
by Adam Dileva

Demon Turf Box art Slime-san: Superslime Edition surprised me, so once I learned that developer Fabraz was making a new title, I was of course intrigued. Their latest game, Demon Turf, takes from their 2D platforming game experience and translates it into a 3D world. If you yearn for mid-90’s platforming classics like Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64, then Demon Turf is going to be exactly what you’re looking for. Better yet, if you’re the type of player that enjoys speedrunning or trying to inch your way up online leaderboards, you’re in for a real treat, and challenge.

The first thing you’re going to notice is Demon Turf’s interesting aesthetic. All of the characters are seemingly drawn in 2D, but placed in a 3D world, much like Paper Mario in a sense. Playing a 3D platformer with flat characters takes a little getting used to, but eventually feels natural once you come to terms of a paper character having a round shadow beneath them.

You are Beebz, a young demon, barely a thousand years old, who wants to become the Demon Queen, but to do that she’s going to have to defeat the other demons who run the turf of certain areas beforehand. These leaders are tough, but are no match for the Demon King himself, so Beebz has her work cut out for her. Nearly everyone around her laughs it off, because how would such a young and naive demon have any chance of defeating the Demon King?

To even get a chance at facing off against the Demon King though, she will need to defeat the four turf leaders, but do even do that, she must find a battery in each level before being able to challenge them. Even though the gameplay definitely caters towards speedrunners and leaderboard chasers, even casual platformer fans can have some fun in this colorful and humor filled world full of demons.

Each level’s goal is to reach the end and get its battery, but there are also some hidden collectable candies to find as well. If you want some hints you can also press in the 'Left Stick' to have an arrow show you where the closest candy is. Each level also has a par time to beat if you want to challenge yourself for a spot on the leaderboards, but good luck with that unless you’re serious about speedrunning, plus you’re going to need some of the unlockable skills later on to even be able to attempt the times. These par times are challenging enough on their own, but world records for each level is absolutely insane. Sadly there’s no way to download someone’s ghost or watch a replay of their ten second run for a 2 minute par time.

In a 3D platforming game you need to have precision controls, or else you’re going to have a bad time, the same goes for the camera control. Demon Turf is decent in these aspects, though sometimes felt as though it could be a bit tighter. There’s an option to have manual control over your camera with the Right Stick or opt for an automatic camera that will somewhat follow you, though this never worked well enough to rely on. Given the handcrafted levels meant for speedrunning, you’re going to want to have full control over the camera when you start trying to skip certain sections and using your powers to bypass portions of the map.

The main hub town is generally meant to travel from one turf to the next to take it over, but there’s also some side events and minigames you can play as well should you want, earning you some extras. This is where you can earn your hard earned candy on abilities mods or changing Beebz' colors of hair or shirt. Each of the main turf hubs all have their own style and biomes. Each turf needs to be completed in order before working on the next, so the progression is generally linear aside from choosing which level to play in order within each turf to get batteries. One cool feature I didn’t expect was that you can challenge yourself in alternate versions of a level once the turf is cleared as well, so there’s essentially double the length of expected gameplay.

Given that Beebz is a demon, her moveset is very fitting as well. You start with just a basic jump, double jump, wall jumps, dash and a float, but certain moves will actually transform her based on the move. Specific moves for example will turn Beebz into a bat, allowing her to spin and float as she slowly descends, or a squid when underwater. You can do a longer leaping jump combined with a float to go longer distances, reminiscent of Mario’s somersault flips, needed to reach the far off platforms. Some levels are very horizontal with trampoline-like platforms, while others can be quite vertical in nature, which takes a different set of precision.

As you reach turf bosses you’ll gain new abilities as well. The first is a hookshot, allowing you to grab onto anything with a small square icon, either pulling you into the air to launch distances, or pulling enemies to you. Another is one that allows you to turn into a wheel, able to speed very quickly in a short burst, needed for speedruns obviously. You get these moves just before fighting a new turf boss, so the boss fights are not only your introduction to your new abilities, but a way to test out and learn how to use them correctly. These boss fights were quite entertaining and unique, the highlight of my time with Demon Turf. Being able to combo your jumps, gliding and abilities are how you’ll start to climb the leaderboards, as this is how you’ll be able to eventually bypass and skip complete sections of a level if you’re clever enough.

Combat plays another role in Beebz’ journey to become the Demon Queen, and the part of the gameplay I hated the most. Beebz shoots projectiles in front of her, based on the camera direction, able to rapid fire or charge for a more powerful version. Enemies either are defeated by knocking them off a platform, if an option, or being pushed into red spikes placed around the small arena. This is where you need to use your charged version, as it will knock them backwards, so you have to get between your enemy and the spikes behind them before attacking. It’s a little weird getting used to firing in the direction of the camera and not the way Beebz faces, and this is where you’ll need to use the manual camera if you want any success.

The coolest part about Demon Turf though is its checkpoint system. In most platformers, reach a certain section in a level and that’s where you’ll reappear if you die. Demon Turf does things differently though, giving you the accessibility to place your checkpoints anywhere you wish. While you only get a couple checkpoints a level, you’re able to freely place them anywhere. Have a difficult jumping section up or some combat sections you’re not good at? Place a checkpoint. Have to do some precision running and gliding and know you’re going to fall all the way to the bottom? Place a checkpoint. You get the idea. This simple idea is great for allowing you to play however you want. You can even challenge yourself to perfect runs without using any should you want, something speedrunnners will definitely be doing. Some levels I never needed to use one checkpoint, others I used all of them. Obviously there are certain sections and platforms you can’t place the flag at, but for the most part they can be used anywhere you want, even able to freely teleport between them if you are aiming to practice some trick jumps and skips. You can even use your candy in the main hub to allow you to have more checkpoints if you wish, so you better be on a lookout for that candy.

There’s plenty to do, but it’s obvious that Demon Turf is clearly aiming towards the platformer lovers that enjoy to climb online leaderboards to show off their best times, replaying levels hundreds of times to try and get just a little quicker each time. There’s nothing to force you to take part and reply levels over and over, but that’s where you’ll obviously get the most value.

The 2D art within a 3D world works well enough. The characters themselves looks decent and animated well, but many of the world textures simply don’t impress. Each biome also has its own style, but can get very oversaturated at times, especially in the opening desert turf in certain sections. The Paper Mario style does make Demon Turf stand out, feeling like a comic book come to life in a playful way.

I actually didn’t expect there to be much voiced dialogue, but almost all of it is which was quite impressive. Better yet, the voice work was actually quite bubbly and fun as well, again, feeling like it came out of a comic book with Beebz and other main characters over exaggerated reactions, giving an almost anime-like feel. Music is there, but even now trying to think of it, none of it was very memorable for the most part.

If you miss the days of mid 90’s platforming titles, Demon Turf is just the throwback that you’re looking for. Easy to get into and you can of course take your time, Demon Turf is meant to challenge you to be as quick as you possibly can to try and earn a spot on the coveted online leaderboards. While it’s a little on the pricey side without a discount, a decent sale would earn my full recommendation if you’re into speedrunning 3D platformers and want to become the Demon Queen.

**Demon Turf was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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