Two things confused me the most within the first five minutes of playing Demoniaca. The first: why in the blue hells would anyone thinks it’s a good idea to use a shoulder button for jumping in a 2D Metroidvania? The second: what does Demoniaca mean anyway? Suffice to say, both left me utterly baffled. I resolved the latter issue with a quick Google search revealing my linguistic ignorance – Demoniaca is the Spanish or Italian Feminine singular of demoniac, meaning demoniacal or fiendish. The former issue was impossible to solve…
Demoniaca sends players batting and platforming through the Tower of Babel. Bolted onto the standard Metroidvania trappings is an intriguing attempt to mimic Street Fighter or King of Fighters with regard to the game’s combat. Sadly, this works as well as shaving with a cucumber – it doesn’t and you look like a fool for even trying.
Controls are sluggish and murky, you’ll put the correct inputs in time and time again, but the game seems incapable of acknowledging that. Yes Demoniaca, I’m well aware a quarter role of the control stick and a stab of a button should launch a fireball thing, but it never ever does! Due to this control fiasco, combat becomes a random chore, you do your best to biff the baddies whilst they biff you back, the lack of accompanying visual feedback leading to the entire endeavour proving dull beyond belief as well as utterly frustrating.
Exploration, a key component of any competent Metroidvania, is little better. Part of that is thanks to the bizarre decision to have players squeezing a shoulder button to jump, and with no option to alter the controls. It might have made a little bit of sense in something like Mirror’s Edge, but for a 2D platformer, it’s a nightmare.
Aesthetically the Tower of Babel is uninspired, each area looking far too similar to the one before it. Then there are the crates. Levels are literally covered with the bloomin’ things. I see them in my dreams now. Boxes block your progression and each stack proves oddly resilient to even your most deadly attacks. You’ll spend a small age whaling away on a pile of boxes, incapable of moving on until every single one is smashed. Oh, and the boxes respawn. Suffice to say, this is not fun.
Bosses are a painful labour, the awkward jumping making each encounter a slog of epic proportions. Then there’s the the way that taking any damage will cause your avatar to reel back and freeze before control can be resumed. A half-demon warrior should not be devastated by a tiny moth like creature. This was the final straw, Demoniaca: Everlasting Night broke me. OK, so it made me laugh at how frustratingly bad it was, but do yourself a favour and avoid this game. Go play something nice instead.