For only $4.99, it is not fair to be harsh on Demon’s Crystals especially since the arcadey twin-sticker shooter gameplay is relatively smooth and offers a moment of mindless fun if you can gather four local players in one room. But the lack of options and gameplay elements ultimately results in a big missed opportunity.
Demon’s Crystals is actually as straightforward as straightforward can be. With no tutorial or even a button map indicator, the player is thrown immediately into the game. Since only the analog sticks are used, one to move and one to shoot, getting the hang of gameplay only takes a second. However, there are no RPG elements whatsoever so players cannot assign an experience point to health upgrades, weapon buffs, or any other abilities. There is no screen-clearing bomb, no puzzles to solve, and no story.
Watch my Let’s Play of Demon’s Crystals below to see this game in action for yourself:
What is strange is that there is a leveling system in place but the game does not inform the player of its benefits. It wasn’t until I switched to a level one character in the middle of World 2 and had trouble dealing damage to common enemies did I realize that the level system actually means something. But with no stats screen, the player is simply labeled as “level 11”, for example; this does not tell the player how much attack power has increased even though offensive power has gotten slightly stronger. Stages are also small and short, which is fine, but the visual presentation and soundtrack repeat constantly and the environmental hazards always result in cheap attacks. Stages can also quickly turn into a bullet-hell especially when playing multiplayer and becomes difficult to distinguish projectiles.
This barebones approach is not bad per se but just a little more information or options could have eliminated some of the confusion and added some replay value. The campaign is nothing more than shoot enough enemies or collect enough crystals (that randomly appear, they are not even dropped by defeated enemies) before you die to progress to the next stage. There are a few bosses to defeat but they still follow the same formula of just shoot everything until death. The randomly spawning power up weapons give gameplay that much needed spice but the randomness sometimes makes stages a breeze while others are a struggle.
Surprisingly, there are a half dozen different multiplayer options available in addition to the playing the main campaign cooperatively. While these unexpected modes are welcomed, they still will not extend the replay value beyond a couple of experimental runs especially since all multiplayer is same-sofa only. The team-versus-team mode is actually broken too, as you need a full set of four players to play – a 1v1 option is not available here.
Demon’s Crystals also has one other negative going against it – Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is the free Xbox One game this month, an online four player twin stick adventure title based puzzles, teamwork, and a story; there is none of that here in Demon’s Crystals. Launching alongside a similar type of game that is currently is not exactly the best timing. However, as barebones as Demon’s Crystals is, it is a low-budget low-cost title that still contains some simple, mindless entertainment value if you keep expectations low. The good news is the idea of a sequel has tons of potential.
Not As Good As: classic Robotron
Remember?: Zombie Revenge (Dreamcast) and Hunter The Reckoning (Gamecube)
Also Try: Vampire Crystals (WiiWare)