Starring a PS1-era Lara Croft lookalike named Alice, Battle For Demon City ($1.00) is about as campy as you can get. Like ‘B Movie’ campy. It dresses up and sounds the part, and it probably doesn’t hurt that everyone in the game is very… chesty, shall we say. Well, except for the dudes, but it can be hard to determine which is which. Nor is its visage very ‘demonic’, as the enemies look more like humans cosplaying as cats than the hellspawn they’re supposed to be.
The tale it spins is equally cheesy, with a student demon named Thalia (playing like a petulant schoolgirl, of course) sending her minions to take over the city and turn it into a giant maze of same-y streets and buildings. Alice is left to fend for herself against the horny hordes that come in several waves per level, while simultaneously being forced to navigate the randomly-generated maze without a mapping function or a change of scenery, like, ever (…a true Hell on Earth indeed).
To make matters more compelling (i.e. worse), your progress is intermittently-blocked by gates that require keys, leading to some backtracking and fetching. Otherwise, it’s a straightforward shooter, with you moving from police station to police station, albeit one that functions as a marketplace instead of a bastion of law and order, selling you the occasional weapon upgrade and / or ammunition. Because Capitalism!
Stages end with a rush of enemies or a boss fight that introduces a new foot solider, and sometimes you’re treated with short cutscenes that do their exposition thing and / or briefly break the fourth wall. Oddly, these moments are the best part of Battle For Demon City, making it all the more painful once you return to the actual gameplay.
Combat loses its zeal quickly, and mowing down the same enemies a hundred times over (there’s a joke for this) doesn’t help. Occasionally they will grapple Alice, leading to a button-mashing QTE that ends with her popping a round into her attacker’s dome (which is kinda neat), but fights can only really be lost when they gang up on you in numbers. Even then, it’s hard to take these threats seriously when they’re coming from demons named ‘Gregg’ and ‘Carl’, and their damage output is slightly above a slap. The game is generous with both health drops and continues, so there’s little chance of danger sidelining you.
Battle For Demon City walks the line between tedium and strangely-fascinating most of the way. In the end, tedium wins out. You could almost categorize it as one of those ‘So Bad it’s Good’ guilty pleasures, were it not for the repetitive cityscapes and mostly-soundless gunplay (I get music for the last thirty seconds of a level and that’s it?). It’s not without some merit. The game rests on an obligatory cliffhanger, and so help me, I’d actually play Round Two of wherever the hell this ‘Lara Croft vs. The Cat Demons’ thing is going. Is that bad?
This review is also featured on Indiepitome