Reviewing an Early Access game isn’t a particularly easy task. Mostly because, as Early Access implies, the game isn’t finished yet. A game such as this always leaves room for some form of dramatic change which can greatly affect how a game is played and enjoyed. I can only review the game I have been given and in the case of Daemonical, I have been given a fairly entertaining game.
Daemonical is an asymmetrical multiplayer horror game from Fearem Games. Each round starts by dumping five players borderline naked in a forest with one of the five eventually turning into a Demon to hunt down the remaining four. As a Human it is your job to search for the parts of a skeleton for a ritual to seal the Demon. Or should you prefer, you can cower in a corner with a gun for 13 minutes as timing out the game is also considered a win for Humans. Before the game begins the player can set their preference as to which role they want out of the two. While it isn’t guaranteed to get you the role that you want, you are more likely than not to get the role you prefer.
Visually, there isn’t a lot to the game. Most of the map consists of the same kinds of buildings and a lot of trees. Only exceptions to the rule being the radio tower and the ritual tower which both stand out equally, due to the red light they emit. You can customize your Human character which is a nice touch, but the options are fairly limited as the game currently stands. You can’t customize your Demon character and as such are left looking like one of the aliens from Crystal Skull. But, visuals aren’t the main draw to Daemonical, with most of the focus being put into the gameplay and the interaction between players.
Let’s start with demon, as with each role there is a lot to dissect and Demon has the most going on. How a player is selected is fairly random and no-one knows who will end up as the fiend until he’s transformed. He also transforms on the same spot that the player is standing in with no delay, so if you’re a Human and you buddied up with the demon that’s some tough luck. He’s also able to track players who are far away from him with white dots that mark their physical location on the HUD. These dots disappear when the demon gets within a certain range of the Humans.
Despite that, he has a much clearer vision in the dark due to his Demon Vision which is basically just a red tint over the screen. This tint makes movements and bright lights much clearer. You still need to pay attention though, as humans can stand in trees and remain fairly well camouflaged. Since the Demon lacks close range tracking, it makes it very difficult to find people who hide using this tactic.
This doesn’t make hiding in general a viable tactic since most of the map consists of open spaces. Humans can take shelter in buildings, but since the Demon can burst through doors like the Kool aid man, they act more like a cage for players to get trapped in. Humans do have a couple methods of defence while searching for skeleton parts. Guns as well as ammo can be found in many locations on the map. If the Demon is killed with a gun, then it gives the Humans a small amount of time before he is literally dropped from the sky back into the match. Tree branches can also be picked up and lit on fire to ward off the Demon. However, humans can potentially drop these if the demon screams while near them. Upon death, humans become orbs. These orbs can be seen by other humans and can still use the voice chat to communicate. So even after death every player is still useful to some extent.
Putting everything together adds up to a generally enjoyable experience. While playing as a human there is always a background sense of fear. You can never quite be sure where the Demon is or when he’s going to pop out at you. Even when your group is working together well, you can never quite be sure how a match is going to go. Playing as Demon can be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes you’ll just be wondering around a map until time runs out or the humans complete their objective. Other times you’ll be beside yourself, hopping after people while cackling like a madman down your microphone.
A few issues do present themselves throughout the game. Controls occasionally felt a little stiff. Especially in regard to the sprint button. Players can get trapped under houses and the glowing cut used to find the skeleton parts can be a little finickity at times. Upon one occasion while playing as the Demon, I used a Human I caught to open doors for me. But bugs like these are somewhat part and parcel for early access games and they don’t take away from the overall experience.
There is also the lack of a tutorial to adequately teach the player how to play the game. Rules and systems are just thrown at players in blocks of text at the start and it makes it easy to miss important information on their first game. The text is at the beginning of each match too, making it a bit bothersome for players who have finally worked out how everything fits together. At present there isn’t a large player base either. So, you could be waiting for a while to get into a game.
As I said earlier, Daemonical is a generally enjoyable experience but it isn’t complete. But because the game is in Early Access it has room to grow and become a truly excellent game. And even though I have only reviewed the as-yet unfinished product, Daemonical is certainly headed in the right direction.