Demon House: FPS

Writing about a really bad game is easy.  Writing about a really good game is easy.  When a game is middling, neither that good nor that bad, I struggle with my goal to write an entertaining review.  I’ve done a few first-person shooters on XBLIG.  Of them, two are on my leaderboard: Send in Jimmy and Devil Blood.  As of this writing, they occupy the very bottom two spots.  I’ll fully admit, those games are both atrocious and could (some would argue “should”) be exorcised from the board.  But at least they were playable and fun in a train-wreck sort of way.  Others have either been glitchy, poorly conceived, or just plain boring.  I previously noted that I was surprised at how few FPSs are on XBLIG, considering that the Xbox 360 is pretty much a dedicated shooter console for many of its owners.  Sadly, every XBLIG FPS plays like it arrived to the party about fifteen years too late to be enjoyable.  Demon House is not really different.  It’s not horrible, but it’s not exceptional enough to make this a fun review to write.  This will probably not be one of my better ones, so here’s a preemptive apology.  For what it’s worth, I’m doing Trailer Park King 3 next!

Weapon design in Demon House ranges from inspired to predictable, and getting the really fun stuff takes too long for such a short game.

First off, yea, Demon House looks relatively good.  I mean, it still looks archaic.  It would have been just fine in 2000 as a Nintendo 64 or PlayStation title.  In 2012?  It falls into the dreaded “it looks good for an XBLIG” category.  And that’s where it also falls in other areas.  It’s designed well.  You know, for a FPS on XBLIG.  The controls are pretty good, at least for an FPS on XBLIG.  I accept that a first-person shooter is an incredibly hard game to design and the guys behind Demon House should be commended for creating one of the better ones on the platform.  But all I care about is how much fun I can have with a game, and fun is a fleeting commodity here.

It started good.  Really good in fact.  The game opens inside a haunted house.  This is your stereotypical amusement-park style ghost mansion, with all the clichés.    Piano playing itself?  Check.  Spooky shadows?  Check.  Lightning custom-designed to give me a seizure?  Grumble, check.  Baby carriage that rocks itself?  Check, and fucking creepy.  I wasn’t kidding about the amusement park feel of Demon House.  Considering that the enemies are all robotic devices, I kind of figured the concept here was supposed to be something like Westworld, where the animatronics had simply started to run amok.  That would be an interesting plot, but instead you’re dealing with a mad alchemist.  That’s lame, but at least the haunted house setting is.. oh.  Never mind, that’s only for the first half of the game.  The second half takes place in an utterly generic cathedral/catacombs place thingie that looks like it was lifted from Quake and/or any of a trillion Quake mods out there.  Good move Photonic Games.  I was almost interested for a bit.

The only thing Demon House: FPS had going for it that made it stand out was the legitimately creepy haunted house setting.  Once you’re removed from that and instead inserted into the boring, sterile, lifeless second act, the game becomes a chore.  Oddly enough, after about thirty minutes in that section, I was hoping the game would just end.  And then it did.  That was very kind of it.

It’s not THAT complex. I’m pretty sure enemies that stand back and shoot at you instead of charging at you has been around since I was at least old enough to ride the Haunted Mansion ride.

Let’s be clear here: I had fun with Demon House and it is going on the leaderboard.  I liked the opening act that much.  While playing it, I figured it could be a top-fifty game.  Despite dated gameplay, the shooting mechanics are fun, the enemy design is neat, and the floor layout with the multiple hidden nooks made this enjoyable.  And then you leave the house and suddenly you’re transported back to 1996, which is not where I wanted to be.  The placement of the game started to sink.  Not like a rock, which would have been quick and relatively painless.  It sinks more like a boat.  You know that scene in Titanic where they watch as the ship breaks apart and the lifeboats (some filled to half-capacity) look on in horror?  Yea, Demon House is the Titanic and you’re Kathy Bates watching on in horror.  Not me though.  I’m more like Kathy Bates from Misery, taking a sledge-hammer to the feet of Photonic Games.  Out of love of course.  🙂

Demon House: FPS was developed by Photonic Games

80 Microsoft Points DIDN’T GET OUT OF THE COCK-A-DOODIE CAR!!! in the making of this review.

Demon House is Chick Approved and ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard, although I’m sure that will be of little consolation to its now crippled developers.  


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