BadLand Games' "Demons Crystals" fairly earns it's five dollar asking price. It's a classic arcade style shoot 'em up with a sort of Halloween theme going on. Centered around a story involving Urican demons, and the invasion of their world by three demonic overlords the game takes the gamer on a single, and multiplayer adventure filled with bright neon lighting, bullet hell encounters, and three unique modes of play. Either alone, or in the company of friends gamers can enjoy this wave based shmup in the guise of four different color coded Uricans as they face the hordes of the demonic armies before them, and the overlords themselves. Included in the package deal is an "Arcade Mode", a local "Multiplayer" with six game types, and a "Survival" mode for besting that highest leaderboard score. Some of the modes can be played alone while others are meant to be played via the oldschool couch co-op option.
In the game's "Arcade Mode" you'll be tasked with completing three worlds consisting of nine wave/horde based levels each. The goal in each level is to complete the horde waves which switch between set goals. The goals alternate between having you collect crystals which appear in theme shaped groupings as well as killing off a certain number of enemies. Sometimes even a combination of both goals is applied. As you do so you'll level up adding bonus startup power-ups to your character. Each horde wave is timed, but can be extended upon through hourglasses that appear among the other shmup based power-ups. At any given time you can use only a single power-up shot type, and a boost item. The latter item types including things such as shields, slowdowns, speed boots, and other things. The further you get into Arcade Mode the more types of power-ups will drop including some which will only serve to complicate the situation.
As far as end goals go you will be completing nine horde levels within each world before facing off against a boss in that world's tenth level. A boss, which like you has a set amount of life. Life which must be fully depleted before the current world is also marked as completed. When it comes to the required number of players for taking on this trying task you'll find that the Arcade Mode can be played through solo, or in the company of three other local friends with each of the players selecting either an orange, red, green, or blue character. It should also be noted that 'Arcade Mode' itself comes in three different progressively challenging difficulties. Those difficulties being, 'Normal', 'Hard', and 'Nightmare'. Supposing your demon dies through the depletion of their health bar in Arcade Mode you will be taken to a "Continue?" screen where you can continue. The only setback is that you'll have to start over from the first horde wave within the given level. Losing life is unfortunately very easy if you are not careful.
When it comes to character control this game, no matter what the mode, is a twin stick shooter meaning that the "Left Thumbstick" moves your character, and that the "Right Thumbstick" shoots in the multi-directional sense. The worlds in which you do the shooting are each laid out differently in a small maze-like formation done up in a semi-top down point of view. There are pathways, and even destructible buildings/structures placed around the areas in which enemies will randomly spawn. The levels all feature a sort of neon highlighted environment with themes like that of a graveyard.
Beyond the Arcade Mode you'll also find a mode entirely centered around couch co-op. That mode being, "Multiplayer". Within the multiplayer menu you'll find a selection of six different game types. This includes 'Survival', 'Deathmatch', 'Versus', 'Crystal Quest', 'Seize the Large Crystal', and 'Kill the Enemies'. In 'Survival' it's the last player standing in the horde stand-off that wins. The next mode up is 'Deathmatch', and that is basically a four player free-for-all competitive battle as one might expect. Following deatmatch is, 'Versus'. Versus, as it were is a two versus two team based battle in which the last team remaining wins. After that listing comes 'Crystal Quest' which is a time based competition to see who can collect the most crystals. Another crystal focused game type comes in the form of, 'Seize the Large Crystal'. In that game type the objective is to break down your opponents' large crystal barrier to claim it before they do the same to yours. Lastly is 'Kill the Enemies'. The goal in that particular game type is to kill as many enemies as possible within the given time limit. The catch being that there are gnomes that will appear which will reset a players' kill count when they attack them.
The final main mode of play comes in the form of "Survival". In 'Survival Mode' you'll be trying to survive as long as you can against increasingly aggressive spawning enemies while collecting crystals for bonus points. From experience this mode is quite challenging from the start. I barely survived a minute into the mix. For what it's worth the score tallied up after your character's death (characters have health bars in all modes) will be listed in the local, and global leaderboards for reference purposes.
The Verdict ...
I think BadLand Games is offering quite a lot for five dollars. Demons Crytals contains a little something for all shmup, and couch co-op fans. There's modes for playing solo, and modes for playing locally with friends. What stood out above all that for me though was the game's simple yet impressive arcade style gameplay. It harkens back to a simpler time of gaming that was fun. Kind of taking subtle hints from games like Pac-Man, and various other retro games. The game as a modern gaming offering is polished well enough as well, especially for it's pricing. I personally think it's worth said asking price. Also let me not forget that soundtrack. It takes on a whimsical Halloween theme filled with interesting instrumentals. I think that about wraps it up ... In closing, "Demons Crystals" definitely gets the Inferno's seal of approval. Pick it up if you like shmups, and couch co-op experiences with shmups in mind!