I always wonder about fantasy worlds. Somehow, underneath every quant village or castle is a 50 floor deep dungeon filled with otherworldly horrors. It’s a wonder society survives with all that evil lying underneath. I guess the same could be said
of all religions real life. Luckily in Demon’s Sword we can put those disturbing thoughts aside and instead enjoy partaking in some good old-fashioned dungeon crawling, the way grandma used to make.
Demon’s Sword‘s story is loosely based on the persian legend of Amir Arsalan and the demon Fulad-zereh. You must delve into the dungeon to face the demon, while gathering the relics you need to defeat the demon on the way, such as the legendary sword Shamshir. Demon’s Sword is probably most closely a tribute to Telengard with dungeon crawling taking virtually the same shape. You start out creating a character by rolling up (and re-rolling) some classic D&D stats, then set to work exploring a dungeon turn by turn, with encounters popping up at random.
However while keeping a pretty heavy retro vibe, Demon’s Sword is far, far more accessible. Visually, the view area is much larger and the level graphics are much clearer, and movement through the dungeon is smooth. Anyone who played the old Gold Box games will instantly recognise the font and borders, which are a perfect imitation of those games. This is exactly what I want from a new retro game – a revisit of what made an old game great, but without the clunky UI or movement.
The gameplay, much like in Telengrad, is exclusively focused on exploration of a large dungeon. The dungeon is filled with chests, barrels, and rotting corpses to loot, and various other objects to interact with – usually with a good or bad effect. Encounters, such as monsters, do not appear on the map and are entirely random – a combat may suddenly pop up and you’ll be tasked with choosing to fight, cast, evade or bribe.
You’ll be able to find potions to heal, antidotes to cure poison, holy water to remove curses, keys to open chests and doors and candles for summoning. Gems and bags of silver give you money, which seems to be exclusively for resting at the inn (climb the ladder on the first floor) or sacrificing at altars for bonus experience. Something that deviates from the traditional template is the ‘Purity’ mechanic. Casting spells or summoning demons at sigils can be quite helpful, but comes at a not-insignificant purity cost. The only way to replenish this precious resource is freeing any prisoners you find trapped in the dungeon.
Despite appearances, though, Demon’s Sword is not fully turn-based. Take too long to move or enter a command and the game will take a default action for you, usually to your detriment (ignoring items instead of taking or using them, or giving opponents a free attack). Even standing still for a moment will automatically conduct a ‘stay’ action, which means encounters can occur even when standing still. This system does much to keep the game running at a brisk place, however at times feels a bit at odds with its exploration elements. Luckily, you can at least push M to open an automap, which thankfully pauses the action and gives you the opportunity for a breather.
For fans of Telengard or old school dungeon crawlers in general, Demon’s Sword should serve up a pretty satisfying retro experience with just the right amount modern influence to make it more playable, but no less retro in spirit.
Demon’s Sword | Download
Posted on February 24, 2016, in RPG and tagged 1 Player, Cannibal Cat (developer), D&D, Demon's Sword, Dungeon Crawler, fantasy, Free, Pay What You Want, Permadeath, Persian Mythology, Telengard. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.