Ysbryd Games has published many titles, most notably WORLD OF HORROR, a horror rogue-lite game revolving around strategy and choice. That game remains one of my favorite titles in Ysbryd Games’ catalog. So, when I found out they were publishing Necrosoft Games’ Demonschool, another horror game, I immediately became intrigued.
Demonschool is an upcoming tactics RPG that centers around a college freshman named Faye, the last living heir to a long line of demon hunters. She’s had no use for her powers since demons have laid dormant for years. That is until she goes to her new school and has to solve supernatural mysteries involving demons. If Faye wants to survive her time at college, she’ll need to put her demon hunting skills to good use!
I was able to get my hands on the game while I was attending PAX East. There were two versions of the demo: a story version where you could get more of the story and play two fights, or a boss version where you get a quick run-through of what’s happening before being thrown into a difficult boss fight. I opted for the boss fight due to my familiarity with tactic RPGs. Necrosoft Game’s marketing representative, Jenna, was by my side, answering any questions I had during my run.
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One of the questions I had was about the game’s influences. As a Shin Megami Tensei (SMT) fan, I could tell that the game gained inspiration from SMT, Devil Survivor in particular. I asked Jenna this, and she confirmed my suspicion, saying that the series was one of the influences for the game. Continuing with this line of question, I asked if there’ll be multiple paths or endings like those games had. She answered my question by saying, “Demonschool will be more linear. However, there will be romance options. Who be romanceable, I can’t say!”
Some of Demonschool’s other influences come from Italian horror cinema, such as Lamberto Bava’s Demons, which utilized the same art style that the game uses called “giallo colors and lightning.” This particular influence is what gives Demonschool its eye-catching and vibrant art style.
Emphasis on strategy
Strategy is your best friend in Demonschool. Going in without a game plan is a surefire way to get yourself a game over. While you may want to use your strongest unit, as you would in a title like Fire Emblem, that would actually be to your detriment here.
In Demonschool, you have action points (AP) that your entire party shares. Using a character costs you one AP. Using that character a second time in the same turn costs two AP, costing you three valuable AP in total. Continuing to use the same character sets you back even more. However, if you use a different character, it’ll only cost you one AP. So, it’s important that you use your entire party rather than focus on one character.
Thankfully, if you realize you made a mistake, such as move a character to the wrong spot, you can use the rewind feature. This helpful mechanic allows you to rewind your party’s actions you’ve made during the planning phase of your turn, giving you the ability to rethink your strategy before executing it.
In the full game, there’ll be 15 party members, all of whom have their own strengths, weaknesses, skills, and unique special. In the demo, I got a look at four party members: Destin, Faye, Knute, and Namako. Destin and Faye are the group’s heavy hitters. Meanwhile, Namako and Knute play support. Namako can stun and debuff, while Knute can heal.
The boss I went up against was a giant grotesque skeleton who would summon enemies. You aren’t able to attack the boss itself until it puts one of its fingers down on the battlefield. Attacking its finger will expose the boss’ weak point, allowing you to take out 25% of its health. However, you can’t simply hit the finger. That would be too easy.
Any time it exposes one of its fingers on the field, a danger zone will appear, indicating it will attack whoever is in that field, including enemies. Staying in that zone after your turn will kill you and whoever else is in it. So, if you want to keep your characters alive, you need to attack the boss’ fingers and get out of harm’s way. Of course, having other enemies on the field to take care of and limited movement makes this a challenge.
I only managed to take out 25% of the boss’ health before receiving a game over. The reason for my downfall was simple: I lost Namako early on. I was too focused on healing Faye and Destin, my main attackers, that I forgot about her. I failed to remember that while she wasn’t an attacker, she had a skill that Faye and Destin didn’t: she could stun.
This unique ability could have saved me down the line. Who’s to say that Namako couldn’t have stunned the boss and stopped its oncoming attack that could have one-hit KO’d a party member? She could have stunned the onslaught of enemies that appeared later in the fight that ended up wiping out my party. If I had only remembered her usefulness, there’s a chance I could have won the battle.
Still, I did manage to last a while after I lost her. However, my fate seemed sealed when my party whittled down to just Destin. Much to my surprise, however, I got informed that it was possible to defeat the boss with just him. However, it was a tall order. So even when things get grim, it is possible to come out victorious, but it isn’t easy.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Demonschool. Although I came up short, I didn’t feel like the game stacked the odds against me, and I believe many players will share that sentiment when they play the game. After all, Demonschool is meant to be difficult. However, it’s not an unforgiving title that wants you to fail.
It gives you the tools that you need to succeed, and it’s up to you to use them correctly. And that’s what I love most about the game. It forces you to think carefully and utilize everything at your disposal instead of allowing you to take the easy way out by using an overpowered character, for example. I’m excited to get my hands on Demonschool when it launches for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Steam Deck, and Nintendo Switch sometime in 2023.