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Demon Turf is a deceptively deep 3D platformer that N64 fans should love

If you're after pure gameplay depth and challenge, don't ignore this retro-inspired gem.

The 3D platformer is dead, or so I've heard at least once a year since around the time of the GameCube's less than stellar sales performance. Nintendo, thanks to Mario, is so closely linked to the genre that any blip in its fortunes results in panic that the classic genre is close to extinction. In truth it never has been and it likely never will be.

The games evolve, perhaps throwing in more combat and less precision jumping, but the genre remains pretty strong. If, however, you want a proper test of skill, a game designed around nailing the platforming mechanics on offer and competing to be the best, Demon Turf is a game that should jump to the top of your most wanted list.

Initially the most striking aspect of Demon Turf is the 3D environments mixed with a 2D playable character and NPCs. This effect gives the game a rather unique appearance, and despite some initial concerns I think it looks great. I have a feeling the aesthetic will be rather divisive, but I like that the small development team went for something different.

And this really was made by a very small team. While publisher Playtonic assisted, the core team is just three people. It's quite a feat, then, that Demon Turf is so feature and content rich. It's got a partially voice-acted script, an evolving move set, a substantial campaign, loads of items to collect, and online leaderboards designed to encourage high-level speedrunning.

The star is Beebz, a 1,000-ish year-old girl who is full of attitude, but not in a nasty way - she's got a witty bark, but no bite. She's joined by Luci and Midgi, who are equally liberal with their quips. The story, revolving around regaining areas from demons, didn't really grab me in the time I played, but the characters are great, with even NPCs having interesting things to say.

It's the platforming that is the main draw, though, the levels designed to test your skill far more than any other 3D platformer I've played in recent years. You start with the basic jump, double jump, hover, hover jump, and wall jump moves, but these are added to to make Beebz a bit of a platforming star (you get a grappling hook just before the first boss fight). I'm not going to say that this is as rich a move-set as Super Mario Odyssey played at a high level, but it's very good.

Combat, at least so far, is perfectly functional, but it's not as gripping as the platforming hopping and can feel like a bit of a distraction at points. Demon Turf also employs a manual checkpoint system, where Beebz plants flags that can be returned to. This is good, in that you have some control over these respawn points, but I found myself forgetting to do this on numerous occasions, resulting in some swear words as I returned to the start of a tricky level. Side note: it seems the dev team were aware of this, so have placed reminders in the levels to avoid this kind of thing.

I'm keen to play more, and I'll be interested to see how the community builds around Demon Turf. There's potential here for a nice bit of competing around level completion times in the speedrunning scene, or just to better your mates. For now, Demon Turf, at just under £20 is an easy game to recommend if you long for pure platformers seemingly ripped out of a different decade.

Disclaimer: Tested on Xbox Series X. A copy of the game was provided by the publisher. Also available on Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC, and Switch.

About the Author

Tom Orry avatar

Tom Orry

Editor-in-chief

Tom has been in games media for longer than he cares to think about. He runs VG247 and likes to post articles about what things were like in the old days. Formerly a Football Manager addict, he now spends his free time tweeting about the classic PGR series.

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