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Demon Turf review: new Beebz on the block

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You'd think being 1000 years old would earn you some respect, but in Demon Turf, that means you're still a child. Admittedly, it makes for an intriguing premise in this tale of conquest and demonic shakedowns, but don't be fooled. While its core systems take inspiration from 3D platformers of the N64 era, Demon Turf isn’t another Banjo Kazooie successor like publisher Playtonic's Yooka-Laylee. You’ll find those familiar cliches, sure, but there’s something great about Fabraz’s latest effort that goes beyond its unique visuals.

Beebz is out to conquer the Demon World, but unfortunately for her, the Demon King’s unwilling to abdicate peacefully, so we’ll be taking his throne by force. Using Forktown as our hub, Beebz begins carving out her own turf first, fighting four other gangs to become their leader. Each turf is split between seven stages that reward you with batteries upon completion. You'll need these to power the King’s gate so you can bust it open, but collecting all seven will also draw out that turf's respective boss, allowing you to expand your territory in the process. There’s no set order for beating each stage, so you can always come back later if one’s proving tricky. Alternatively, you can summon “The Resistance” from Forktown to steal that battery for a fee, so you’ve got a few options should you get particularly stuck.

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It’s a simple premise, one we’ve seen countless times before, but Demon Turf is no less enjoyable for it. You don’t need a deep story when you’re busy kicking demonic butt, though what's there is certainly elevated thanks to its great sense of humour. It can get a little memey in places, like Beebz calling one turf leader a “big chungus” and “an absolute unit”, which won’t be everyone’s speed. However, I stayed invested throughout, and that’s thanks to its great, personable cast. Luci and Midgi, Beebz’s closest friends, are a particular treat in this regard.

It looks stunning, too. While the world uses a low poly 3D approach, its citizens are 2D, creating a surprisingly polished look that manages to stay visually distinct across the different turfs. I was apprehensive at first, but it grew on me over time.

A demon teases another demon in Demon Turf

Once you start diving into each turf's various stages, Demon Turf falls into some familiar rhythms for 3D platforming fans. Moving platforms, traps, bottomless pits, you name it. To summarise, be prepared to do a lot of jumping, whether that's double jumping, wall jumping or turning into a bat once per jump to hover for extra precision. Did I mention jumping?

These levels aren't strictly linear, either. Many have several paths you can take, which not only lends themselves well to any speedrunners out there, but you're also scored for beating stages within a set time. Throw in online leaderboards and I found plenty of incentive to keep coming back and trying some riskier strategies. You can get creative with Demon Turf's platforming, and I quickly found myself hooked.

A demon stands on a blue, abstract platform in Demon Turf

In a nod to some of today's more modern platformers, Demon Turf also lets you set your own manual checkpoints a bit like Ori And The Blind Forest. You can plonk these down wherever you like, but you'll need to use them wisely, as it's quite easy to run out of them early on in longer levels. Losing minutes of progress can quickly become tedious in some of Demon Turf's more challenging segments, but crucially its platforming never felt unfair. Beebz is a smooth and joyful character to manoeuvre onscreen, and most of my deaths were my own fault.

Sadly, things go downhill when it comes to combat, as Beebz’s attacks don’t damage foes. Armed with a spin and chargeable punch, all she can do is push them off ledges or into spikes to kill them. It feels cumbersome compared to its fluid platforming, and worse still, you’re stuck until everyone’s defeated, breaking Demon Turf’s flow. Boss fights don't improve things much, either. All of them are designed around one of Beebz's special abilities, such as her grappling hook or being able to turn into a literal wheel, and while they bring some necessary variety to later stages, their heavy reliance on particular gimmicks gets old pretty fast. I’d honestly call this Demon Turf’s weakest aspect.

A demon faces a large demon boss in Demon Turf

On the upside, once you’ve defeated a boss, Beebz gets much more than a fancy new chief title. New versions of old levels unlock with a new battery to collect, and you can swap between pre and post siege worlds from your mate Midgi’s terminal. You don’t have to beat these immediately to get to the Demon King, but they're great fun and I'd strongly encourage you to give them a go before moving on - especially once you start unlocking some mods that let you switch up Beebz's playstyle even further. You can buy these with collectible sweets, which also double-up as in-game currency, and applying them change Beebz's spinning, punches, run speed and more. There’s even equippable pets, ranging between Baby pigs to a pet rock, which I can’t help but respect.

A demon walks around a grassy scene in Demon Turf

Demon Turf's hub is also packed with side quests, like Demon Soccer Golf or the combat arena, both offering sweets as a reward. Forktown’s art gallery needs you to snap photos across the Demon World too, giving its photo mode a more practical in-game use than usual. There’s unlockable retro levels too, which are accessible after finding hidden cartridges. If you’re a completionist, it’ll take a hefty 40 hours or so before you see the end credits, but even if you're only in it to turf out the Demon King, you're still looking at a good 20 hours of play time. There’s a lot to do, although I’d suggest playing in smaller bursts to avoid any burnout over those frustrating combat sections.

Flaws aside, Demon Turf pulled me in as a long-time platforming fan. Thanks to that competitive gameplay, great sense of humour and appealing art style, Fabraz’s latest stands apart from the rest of its 3D platformer competition. If you’re after a new jumping fix, I’d recommend it.

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