Game Reviews

Demon Tribe

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| Demon Tribe
Demon Tribe
| Demon Tribe

Whenever I'm assigned a review, I like to swing by its page on the App Store just to see what sort of experience I'm in for.

When I toddled over to Demon Tribe's page and scrutised the carefully selected screenshots, I was left none-the-wiser.

It seems to have a bit of the Evoking from Persona 3, the generous use of symbols suggests it's a card-battler, and it also looks like it's played in third-person with multiple characters suggesting an online component. There's also mention of real-time battles.

Simply put: I'm really looking forward to trying out Demon Tribe, as on its surface it appears to be combining a lot of different genres and styles into one.

First impressions

Demon Tribe is already bewildering and bizarre in equal measure, and I've barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer.

You control a team of characters who can each bring forth demons from within during combat, after they've built up a special meter. When in this gigantic demonic form they become less susceptible to attacks and deal out damage at a greater rate in the action-RPG combat.

You tap to move around the environment and tap enemies to auto-attack them. You can use special abilities, too. Think Diablo, or Torchlight, or Dungeon Hunter.

Each character is named after a person from a fairytale, or is a corruption of the name of a famous human being. I'm yet to understand why, but I like the tone it's helping to build: a curious world of beasts and demons and the oversized weaponry that cleaves them in twain.

If there's one criticism so far, it's that menus are cramped. If there's another, the introductory sequence that doubles as a tutorial piles on the number of concepts too heavily. But I'll happily persevere.

Day 3: My people

Another couple of days of play, another couple of gigantic downloads to update the Demon Tribe gameworld. If I had been playing this away from home - on holiday, say - then I would have chewed through a significant proportion of my mobile data allowance by now.

Still, I'm on wi-fi, and these big filesizes do at least make for some pretty visuals. 2D character portraits and their polygonal representations during play are highly detailed and striking in their quirkiness. There's a lot of creativity in every stitch of their elaborate costumes and steampunk dark fantasy character designs.

The worlds around our odd heroes don't fare quite as well, and often feel empty or static. In the chaos of battle - with weapons swinging, blood splattering, and special effects flying across the screen - it's possible to become overwhelmed by the visual barrage.

The cluttered UI and high camera angle don't help, limiting your view of the battlefield and consequently your spatial awareness.

Demon Tribe is gradually opening up and showing me the different types of gameplay it has to offer. In addition to the Diablo-esque dungeon running, the game has introduced battles with other Agents, and these are much more in the style of a MOBA like Solstice Arena.

In these you must destroy all the enemy Gates while defending your own, and can instantly teleport back to your base to regain health. It's a war of attrition, rather than skill - or at least it is at this stage of the game.

These battles add variety to the standard gameplay, as do mission objectives that include destroying a certain number of creatures, or beating a level within a time limit.

So far there's a mindless sort of enjoyment to be derived from Demon Tribe, but not a lot more. I'm hoping that over the next couple of days I'll find more to sink my teeth into.

Day 7: An unwelcome guest

At the end of my seven days with Demon Tribe I don't feel like I've learned a lot about its subtleties, but I've had an entertaining enough time being bewildered in its odd world.

I've spent time poking around the overly complex and under-explained menus, and found statistics and systems to tinker around with.

The Demon Cards can be improved by sacrificing other Demons to them, making them more powerful. I can modify my deck and swap in and out the Demon Cards I like to use most, or tailor my line-up for each battle.

I've already joined a clan, and can participate in PvP and clan co-op multiplayer, and I can issue commands to team mates while fighting.

There are time-specific Day Limited and Special Missions to add to the lengthy campaign, and an ever-active quest to create the most powerful team.

But, like the game's story, all of this is either left unexplained, or buried under so much fluff that you'll have a tough time finding it.

On a similar theme, though there may be a lot of options to spec out your character I found the most effective method of making progress was simply to charge towards the objective destroying everything in my way, and then bring out my Demon whenever things became slightly too challenging.

If you do want to play with a bit more strategy, you can level-up your Grade in each mission by defeating enemies, which increases the amount of damage you can take and deal out. You can also rest in special areas on the map where monsters cannot detect you.

Players who are immediately hooked by Demon Tribe will no doubt discover a lot more strategies, but those who aren't immediately smitten by its dungeon-running, MOBA battles, or its dark fairytale world probably won't bother. To many, this will be nothing more than a beautiful and repetitive hack-and-slasher.

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Demon Tribe

A dungeon runner with an intriguing aesthetic, Demon Tribe asks you to invest a lot of time and patience into it to peer down into its obscured depths
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.