3 out of 5. Some of the design and lack of polish makes it feel unfair, but it's still the kind of unfair that feels satisfying to conquer - if you enjoy that kind of thing. The Price is Right.
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How Metroidvania is it? High Fit. Demon Peak is wide open from the very beginning, and follows all of the Metroidvania tropes to the T.
Primary Challenge: Melee Combat
Time to beat: ~5 hours
Review Info: Demon Peak was played on Steam

More Info

Developer: Kajak Games
Publisher: Kajak Games
Sub-genre: Misc Metroidvania
Features: Map System, 2D Platformer, Melee Combat, Narrative/Cutscenes Story Telling, Lovecraft, Sequence Breaking
Difficulty: High
Linearity/Openness: Open Low Gating - No Handholding
Platforms: Windows, Linux
Release Date: 2017/07/07
Available Languages: English

Store Links

    Steam    

Buy Demon Peak if you like…

  • Fast and fluent Movement
  • Difficult (but not necessarily fair) combat
  • Beautiful Pixel Art
  • Open-ended progression from the outset
  • Cats

▼ Review continues below ▼

It didn’t take me very long to discover why Demon Peak has mixed reviews on Steam. This game loves to kill you, and unlike many other similarly sadistic games, it’s not always fair. However, my hard rule of having to beat a game before I can review it for the Metroidvania Review has proven favorable here. It still lacks a lot of polish, so for many people I could totally understand if you’d want to skip this one. However, for a mere $5 as a starting price, you do get a pretty fun and challenging experience if you’re able to look past its faults.

The best part of Demon Peak is how it controls. You’re given two dodge buttons on your controller’s shoulders, so at any given time you can choose instantly which way you want to shift out of the way. Used in tandem with jumping you can conserve momentum and pull off some pretty impressive acrobatics. It’s tempting to go for the three-hit combo on your melee attack, but in many cases it’s more effective – and more fun – to dash in for a strike and dash away to safety. The regular enemies are fantastic to play with using these mechanics. After the initial learning curve you’ll be weaving around your foes, striking them in the back and mocking their feeble attempts to stop you. Unfortunately, while the core gameplay is excellent, there are a few misteps in the stat design and, most importantly, the bosses.

Demon Peak utilizes a “souls-like” level of risk, but it lacks the supporting mechanics that make that design fair. Enemy attacks can knock off a third of your health bar, making each mistake a potentially lethal blow. When you die, you lose all your progress, which can be incredibly disheartening if you’ve extended far beyond your last save point. There is a certain thrill to being too far beyond your last point of safety, but even Dark Souls kept all of your item progress when you died and gave you a second chance to collect your gold (souls). The biggest issue with this setup is how most of the bosses are designed. Not every attack is telegraphed well, so suddenly you could be blindsided and be stunlocked to death at any given time. Simple pattern memorization solves this problem, but it’s not really an ideal solution for a game like this – especially since one boss doesn’t have a save point too near to it.

With all that said, there really is only one boss that I’d consider completely broken. The rest, once I did recognize their patterns, were a lot of fun to finally beat their lousy face in and show them who the REAL boss is ~ ahem ~ I mean, they were a good and satisfying challenge. The game ends on a really high note too, as the final boss is a mostly grade A polished fight. It’s not perfect, but as I said, for a game priced like a Mini-Meroidvania you’re still getting a pretty good deal.

While this game is fairly short (I think you could technically get to the ending credits in less than an hour) I’m not sure it really qualifies for the Mini-Metroidvania category. First off, I doubt most players are going to be able to beat this one in less than 4 hours simply because they’ll be dying and trying again – or just getting lost in the game world. But beside that, if you’re looking to 100% this game, there are enough obscure health and mana upgrades that you could be searching for them for up to 12 hours. It’s worth mentioning that level design overall is quite good, making it very fun (and tempting) to explore the game’s corners. And, if you’re looking for more play time and you’re especially insane, there are also a few challenging achievements to shoot for.

Demon Peak probably deserves mixed reviews; not everyone is going to be willing to push past its difficulty curve. However, at its core it’s a hidden gem, it just needs some cutting and patchwork to expose its precious mineral. I think if the developers polished up some of its wonkier animations and retooled the telegraphing issues it could easily be a 4 out of 5 game. What they’re charging for it is completely fair though, for what it is, and I personally enjoyed it.


Final Score

3/5

Scoring system overview


Metroidvania Breakdown

Combat
– 3.5

It's so close to magnifiicent, but wonky telegraphing betrays its high stakes design

Platforming
– 3

Not a focus, but there are some interesting puzzle platforming type sections for finding secrets

Exploration
– 3.5

The level design is quite excellent, and you'll need as many of the optional health pickups as you can find

Puzzle
– 2

No real puzzles in the game's main path other than a few puzzle-platformy tricks

Story
– 3

Demon's be on the mountain, and Demon's be bad. Its sufficient for a video game

Graphics
– 4

The pixel art is absolutely gorgeous, but the animations need a little better timing, especially for the sake of the gameplay

Music
– 3

It sounds like midi music from the 90s. There are some great songs, but overall the sound design iis mediocre.

Replayability
– 3

There aren't any specifc modes or customization options too make replaying this too deep, but you do have a lot of options for where you can go each time


Want a second opinion? See what other reviews say:

Steam Reviews
All Time: Mixed
(68% of 191 Reviews)


TBD Metacritic
Read critic reviews