Demon Turf (Sniper)
Genre: 3d Platformer
Developer: Fabraz
Publisher: Playtonic

Demon Turf looks a little like the fairly recent "Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove", in that it's high resolution hand-drawn sprites on top of basic 3D geometry with simple textures. Unlike the colorful "TJ&E" entry, every one of Demon Turf's levels are monochromatic-- garish oranges and yellows-- and filled with this ghastly fog effect. Because everything blends together, there is not enough signposting in the stages. The main character design is fantastic, and the way the artists drew fifty bazillion frames of animation from every angle is impressive. The rest of the characters are hit-and-miss. A stylized menu exposes myriad collectibles and level progress statistics. Visually, Demon Turf looks like a much uglier throwback to the PSP's "Death Jr". It doesn't help that the Switch's by-now-pathetic hardware runs this title at a muddy resolution.

Very obviously inspired by the "Splatoon" series, Demon Turf's soundtrack has lots of abstract, high-pitched female singing in it. In another "TJ&E" similarity, one of the few level songs even has some funky bass work within. The various voice actors present in appropriately over-the-top fashion which is not grating but doesn't stand out either, and with the sarcastic protagonist managing to be snippy but not too obnoxiously smarmy for her own good, unlike many modern female main characters.

Like seemingly all modern games, even something as superficially basic as this 3D platform uses every button on the controller, with multiple buttons required in conjunction to pull off certain moves. Whatever happened to the Yu Suzukui ethos of "simple to learn, difficult to master"? The levels are a nightmare to explore, with their lack of signposting and the game's floaty, imprecise physics. In an interesting twist, a limited-per-stage number of checkpoint flags can be dropped anywhere in the levels-- but that isn't quite enough to reduce the frustration of constantly being lost, or repeatedly sliding off surfaces during what should be routine jumps. Even the levels themselves are difficult to locate in the maze-like hub areas!

As someone who likes 3D platformers and likes exploring, this reviewer nonetheless found Demon Turf to be probably the single-worst title played in the past twenty years. Whether one likes the "Beetlejuice" aesthetic is a purely subjective question-- but the ugly fog effect, complete lack of aesthetic sense in the random-looking floating island stage designs, and the imprecise physics drag this game into the abyss. Even the game's strong point-- its sassy soundtrack-- becomes a pure thorn in the side once the frustration of trying to play this mess of a release inevitably sets in. People always tell this reviewer to play more indie games-- but the fact is, almost none of them are any good. As for this one, avoid at all costs.

Sniper's verdict: