The four Urican demons are in a bit of a pickle. A hoard of creatures has invaded their lands and stolen their precious crystals, leaving them with just no choice but to grab some massive guns and blow them away. Demon’s Crystals adds a fantasy twist to the twin stick shooter genre, though it manages to be generic in its own way, with bats, zombies, and skeletons making up most of the cannon fodder.
The rather thin plot requires the demons – wide eyed, big breasted anime demons, as opposed to soul invading monsters – to collect the crystals and defeat three boss characters. Each level consists of a small play area and a timed challenge to either kill a set number enemies, collect a set number of crystals, or do both. Finish one map and it’s straight on with barely a second to breathe before it’s time to do it all again. The game reminds me of a fast paced version of Burn Zombie Burn which was released on PlayStation 3, and the graphics and music are quite similar, right down to the little jump the enemies do when crawl out of the ground.
To help you defeat the enemies, the game has some ludicrously over-the-top weapons stolen from the bullet hell genre, with each pick up firing multiple bullets in every direction. There also support orbs who add extra firepower, pick ups for extra time, health, or speed, or a blue mushroom that takes away all your weapons but makes your character huge so you can stomp on the enemies.
Completing a level with your standard gun is nigh on impossible, so the game is less about shooting and more about racing around the map and finding the next power up, of which there are plenty, before your current power up expires. Again, this makes this twin-stick more like a bullet hell shoot ’em up, in that it doesn’t matter where you’re firing half the time, with your real aim being to dodge enemies and their projectiles until the unending torrent of random weapons fire kills them.
Demon’s Crystals has a good number of game modes, with the story mode letting up to four players join in the fun locally. There is your bog standard Survival and Deathmatch modes, while Versus is just Deathmatch but with teams. Capture the Crystal is probably the most inventive mode, as you have to destroy a shield around a crystal before you can grab it, but all of the modes are variations on the kill enemies/collect crystals theme.
If this is sounding rather basic, it’s because it is. There is an XP system with levelling, but it does not make the slightest bit of difference. Every map of every game mode will have you running about and shooting stuff and that’s it. There’s nothing wrong with being simple and in small doses Demon’s Crystals is pleasantly entertaining, but the story mode becomes a grind after you die for the tenth time on the same map. As enemies and weapons seem to spawn randomly there is no real option to play tactically, you just have to race about the level and hope you are not in the wrong place in the wrong time.
Good games make headlines and bad games will also generate column inches, the one thing you don’t want you game to be is average, but sadly that is what Demon’s Crystals is. It plays perfectly well and is free from problems and bugs, but it’s totally forgettable without a speck of originality. At just £3.99, it’s a good price for a few hours entertainment if you have some friends on the couch to play with.
Version tested: PlayStation 4