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Demon's Rise: War for the Deep

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: Silesia Games
Developer: Wave Light Games
Release Date: July 9, 2020

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Switch Review - 'Demon's Rise: War for the Deep'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 4, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Demon's Rise is a turn-based tactical game where players must lead a party of six heroes through the bowels of an underground city.

Sometimes, you just want a dungeon crawl. You want to go into dungeons, build a team of your own characters, and explore and fight monsters at your own pace. Demon's Rise: War for the Deep asks the question: What if the gameplay were nothing but the fighting, without even the pesky dungeon-crawling getting in the way? If that sounds appealing to you, then Demon's Rise might be up your alley. For most people, it will be too focused to be enjoyable.

When the game starts, you create a party of adventurers. You can choose from a handful of pre-created parties or create one of your own. There's a selection of possible character classes, ranging from the usual magicians and mages to clockwork golems, zombies and even a literal walking cannon. Each character class has its own set of skills, and they level up and gain more skills as you play, so you'll want to create a team that covers multiple roles. There's enough flexibility in the team composition that you'll be able to do anything you need.


From here, you go into the main gameplay, which is effectively a board game-style tactical strategy experience. Your team and opponents are set on a map, and you take turns pounding the living daylights out of each other. Depending on your team composition, you may want to bait enemies into fighting you or rush to take them out directly. The key to success is managing your position and the cooldowns of your characters' special abilities to assure you are getting the most bang for your buck.

The environment has some strategic effects, including X-COM-style environmental cover, which you can duck behind to avoid enemy attacks. By and large, it isn't as complex as X-COM. You'll mostly be worried about holding chokepoints and avoiding putting your team in a position where the enemy can do a lot of damage. This is important for healing and because both sides have a morale meter, which can cause a character to panic if they are overexposed to damage. Obviously, undead and mechanical creatures are less likely to panic than living beings. You also can use "Favors from the Gods," which you have to earn, to gain temporary powerful buffs for the fight and possibly sway a difficult fight in your favor.

If the gameplay sounds simple, that's because it is. There isn't anything particularly new or shocking about Demon's Rise. It knows exactly what it is trying to be, and it does it. If you've ever played a strategy RPG title, then you'll probably be able to leap right into Demon's Rise, which is good since the game doesn't explain much. There's some time to get used to the foibles of the many different character classes, but that is what the game is all about.


Outside of battle, there's not a lot to the game. The town is effectively a menu where you can change and buy equipment and make adjustments to your characters. There are some snippets of plot before some stages, but they only provide the bare minimum of reasons about why you're punching this group of skeletons in this stage. There's very little else to the game besides going into battle, beating enemies, and getting stronger so you can defeat tougher enemies. There are a bucketload of stages to do so, with increasingly harder enemies to fight, but the formula doesn't change much.

Demon's Rise is serviceable. It's a competent, if unexceptional, tactical game wrapped in a bland package. If you want to engage in a board game-style tactical RPG combat, it does a perfectly fine job. Even the most devoted fans of the genre will grow weary of the game long before reaching the touted 50 hours of gameplay because essentially, it's all the same thing. It's easy to compare it to something like Wizardry, but imagine if Wizardry were just the combat and nothing more.

The game isn't very good-looking. The character models are simple, the dungeons are unmemorable, and the combat animations are awkward. Every character is archetypical, with most of the elves wearing bikinis and most of the men being shirtless Conan. It's also not great on the Switch in handheld mode, as it can be difficult to differentiate between some enemies or allies at a glance. There is some minor voice acting, but it's mostly repetitive combat phrases that can be turned off. Likewise, the music is exactly what you'd imagine if someone said to think of a "fantasy game," with generic pounding drums aplenty.

It may sound like I'm negative about Demon's Rise: War for the Deep, but it's great for people who want a combat-focused tactical RPG with different character classes. For anyone else, the minimal plot, simplistic gameplay, and low-quality visuals will probably turn them off before they can get deep enough to see where the strategy element shines. It's very much a game made by fans and for fans, and anyone else will probably be better off looking at the recent XCOM 2 release or even Mario + Rabbids for their tactical action.

Score: 6.5/10



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