Demonschool PAX West Impression

Combat is still the star of the show though, with a system that is both easy to pick up and hard to master.

While we have already covered a demo build and PAX East showing for Demonschool, the title has plenty more to share.  This tactical RPG with a combat system based on movement that is an ode to 70s and 80s Italian horror, with Sega Saturn-style visuals has stolen the hearts of many.  Developer Necrosoft Games gave some focus to new features as well as its polish to the visuals and user interface to make things more gamer friendly with its appearance at PAX West.

Before diving into the updates to the game there was a little bit of discussion on the VHS trailer released for the game.  The old-school puppeteer work used within for the creatures is very indicative of the vibe the game is trying to reach.  There are plenty of fun comparisons to prosthetic-era horror movies with how detailed each of the sprites are within the game.  There’s also a theme of connections between the mysterious island that the characters find themselves on and with each other to explore.  Demonschool features fifteen characters to grow relationships with and should have enough side quests and content to make sure that maxing them will be possible in one playthrough.  Time only moves forward in Demonschool when players complete main quests, allowing plenty of time to complete the side quests that are available before moving on.

Previous builds saw moving around each map done through a menu, but an overhaul allows for arrows to run at that brings the player back to the travel hub.  A “liveliness” pass has been done on everything in towns, from adding little details such as the water in a fountain looking like it is moving to having the artwork on the buildings and NPCs stand out a bit more.  There’s also a fishing mini-game to be added in later to help break up questing and combat.

Combat is still the star of the show though, with a system that is both easy to pick up and hard to master.  There’s going to be a gradual learning curve on how to get everyone to link up and produce combos effectively, and these combos will be needed for some of the tougher fights.  Bosses are be big and have gimmicks associated with them that players will have to learn how to best overcome, with plans to have one that is entirely environmental as a battle against time rather than an enemy with a health bar.  This is indicative of the game’s combat overall, as proper planning and thinking everything through is more important than brute strength.  Players won’t be given a chance to rest on their laurels as early game enemies will gain new abilities as time goes on, making each combat have a bit of unpredictability to deal with.  If players do run afoul of the challenge, then the game includes options to retry a battle, or even skip it if things get too difficult.

The combat user interface has gotten some additional touches to it too.  From revamped enemy designs to making it easier to plot out a whole turn’s worth of moves in one go, there’s a lot making the game look more active then it did before.  Little text chits and sound effects added in combat now cut through the previously silent air that permeated fights.  While eerie silence can add to a horror atmosphere, these sound effects fit more with the particular classical horror vibe that the game aspires to emulate.

As someone who was already looking forward to Demonschool because of its thoughtful combat system, having a friendlier user interface and adding plenty of little colorful yet horror-filled details make it stand out all the more.  RPGamers won’t have to wait too much longer hopefully as Demonschool is scheduled to release later this year on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.


Ryan Costa

Friendly neighbourhood reviewer that thinks every RPG should be discussed, because one never knows where a hidden gem can appear.

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