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PAX East - First Look: Demonschool

I love strategy games, so when I had the opportunity to preview Demonschool, I jumped on it. And I’m so glad I did. A mix of SRPGs with some Persona sprinkled in makes this game one of my most anticipated games of the year.

The story revolves around Faye, a college student who happens to be the last living member of her demon-hunting family. Her friends join her to solve why people at the school and community are being possessed.

One of the biggest appeals is the combat system. As you explore the world around you, there’ll be moments when you’ll trigger a battle. You’ll fight some grotesque yet beautifully created demons, each with a distinct look. The battlefield is a grid, and each situation has a different objective to complete the level. Once you achieve the goal, you must take one of your characters and cross to the other side of the board. For example, I needed to kill six demons in one of the battles I played. But you’ll fail if one of the demons crosses the end-line of the side of the board you’re protecting.

You start the battle by planning your attacks. In the preview, my team consisted of four students, each with their own abilities. Each move or action you make takes away from your action points, a shared resource amongst your team. You could take one character and spend all your action points on their movements and attacks. As you plan, you start to see the potential outcomes of your actions. If you make a mistake, you can rewind.

Each member of your team also has special abilities. For instance, Destin can push an enemy one square when he attacks it, whereas Namako can do a debuffing dash. When you get combos set up, it makes for a thrilling experience. It’s extremely rewarding to get the characters to use their abilities together.

After your strategy is squared away, you select begin and watch the action play out. And when you pull off some cool combos, and the characters work together, a short-cut scene plays out; it’s so satisfying to see your plan in motion. Once you complete the battle, you’re given a letter grade. You feel like a king when you see a score of A pop-up.

Besides the battle system, there are also elements of relationship building. Through dialogue and interactions, you can strengthen bonds between the characters. I didn’t get to see a lot of this feature in the demo that I played, but from what I could tell, it seems like there was potential for this to be pretty deep.

The graphics in the game are stunning. There’s certainly anime influence in the character design, and the real beauty is how the pixelated characters look in the world. There’s a blending of 2d and 3d effects, and it’s done very well.

The publisher, YSBRYD games, played into the school theme in their booth and demos for the general public at PAX East. They had desks like a school where the public could try the game. They even had someone in the front of the desks, instructing the players on what to expect and the controls for the demo. It was a unique way to promote the game.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Demonschool, but from what I played, I’m impressed. This is on my “day one” purchase list when it releases.

Demonschool is coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Steam Deck in 2023.



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