The twin-stick control scheme is usually relegated to chaotic shmups, but the folks at COWCAT Games have merged the tried-and-true mechanics into a pixelated RPG in Demon’s Tier+. They were kind enough to grant me access to the Xbox version, which I played for a few hours today and wanted to share my thoughts here on the blog.
For starters, the game has some great pixel work within the cutscenes, reminiscent of 16-bit anime games, or something like Ninja Gaiden. The central hub, dungeons, and characters all look solid as well.
As the story goes, a long time ago an aging, blind king accepted a deal from an evil sorcerer which, as expected, led to catastrophic events. Now there’s a giant hole in the ground that goes ever deeper and becomes more and more dangerous. As one of 8 RPG-themed classes, you’ll delve into randomly generated dungeons, completed a small handful of super repetitive quests, and eventually tackle a giant boss that’s more bullet-hell than your standard trash mobs on lower floors.
You’re only given the knight class upfront, but killing monsters and unlocking treasure chests grant you two different forms of coins — gold and blue. Gold can only be used within the dungeon, spent on stat increases between floors, while blue is spent back on the surface to unlock additional characters, buy potions, and upgrade weapons. In traditional rogue-lite fashion, dying within a dungeon means you lose everything. You’re given one shot to reach the same floor and retrieve your spilled goodies, but die again and they’re gone for good.
If you find yourself overwhelmed, you can use an escape item to return to the surface with all of your blue coins intact, which I found super helpful. You start with 10 of them and can buy more from the shop, but these were godsends when I was sitting on 30K blue coins and only had 1 heart of health left.
Rogue-lites are built with replay value in mind and Demon’s Tier+ is no different. The first hour was a little rough, at least for me, since the knight isn’t the most ideal damage dealer and you don’t gain very many blue coins in the earlier levels. I definitely enjoyed the risk/reward glass cannon playstyle of the wizard, who dishes out some pretty crazy damage with her spells in exchange for very little survivability. Each class has their own special ability as well, like the cleric’s heal and wizard’s AoE fire spell.
By hour three I was unlocking better weapons, defeating more bosses, and it became one of those “one more run” games that I see myself coming back to whenever I have 20 or 30 minutes to spare. With so much to unlock, you’re always one or two more runs from a new reward, and that’s really where Demon’s Tier+ succeeds.
Ultimately, I wish it had more quest variety since “explode all the bombs” and “kill all the enemies” is already getting super dull. Still, the game looks good, plays good, and has a lot of rewarding unlocks to keep you coming back, if this sounds like your thing.