Demon Turf review for Nintendo Switch, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series X

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Playtonic Friends
Developer: Fabraz
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

It?ll come as no surprise that Demon Turf was published by Playtonic. That studio, after all, was founded by former Rare developers, and the first two games they published were Yooka-Laylee and Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair. Much like those games were love letters to 2.5D and 3D platformers from days gone by, Demon Turf feels very much like a game that could?ve come out about 25 years ago.

In fact, I?d probably go even further than that, and say that it?s hard to imagine how the game could feel any more ?90s. Everything ? from the visuals, to the humour, to the soundtrack, to the gameplay ? feels like it could have come straight out of that decade.

That?s not necessarily a compliment. While the concept of 2D characters and environments in a 3D world is neat, it?s also pretty ugly. Given that Demon Turf features, er, demons and is set in hell, a lot of that ugliness is intentional, so your feelings on it will come down to aesthetic preference ? but personally, I just found it a pain to look at.

It didn?t help matters, either, that much of the world was covered in a smoggy haze. Maybe this was to hide technical limitations, maybe it was meant to be an homage to the games from which it?s drawing inspiration, but whatever the case: the end result was still unpleasant.

The music, too, sounds like a late ?90s invention. While I don?t inherently hate that, there are only so many times you can hear record scratches before it all gets a little grating, and Demon Turf hits that point within its first ten minutes.

The most ?90s thing about Demon Turf, though, is the gameplay. It?s a collectathon, and, well, you collect. Lots of items, scattered all over the game?s ugly, ugly worlds, which you gather by interacting with its hideous-looking characters, floaty-jumping from platform to platform, occasionally trying to bounce off walls, and engaging in the weakest, most useless combat imaginable. It tries adding a neat wrinkle by giving you the opportunity to set checkpoints by planting flags, except the problem with that is kind of obvious: who stops in the middle of a level to place a flag because you think you?re about to die? In levels where you regularly die at the same place over and over again it kind of works, but more often than not, you probably won?t think of planting a flag until it?s much too late.

That phrase ?kind of works? really applies to all of Demon Turf. It?s got some interesting ideas and interesting visuals, and you can see where the developers were going with it all ? but the more you play, the more it all seems like it all only sort of hits the mark. Just about the only way that it?s fully on-target is in how well it feels like a 3D collectathon from the late ?90s, but given there are plenty of games out there from that era ? not to mention the past 20+ years ? that you can choose from just as easily, Demon Turf feels like it?ll get lost in the crowd.

Playtonic Friends provided us with a Demon Turf Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B-