“PICK UP THE BONE!” a floating blue orb yells at me while I’m struggling to find it among the shrubbery. “What the hell is this guy doing?” another floating blue orb says to the other orb. Suddenly a deafening screech sounds, I turn to face the noise, coming face to face with Daemonical’s demon as it rasps and grabs me, shaking my limp body about.
Daemonical has been summoned and launches today on the 15th August 2018 as an Early Access title. I was given access to the private alpha ahead of launch so there were bugs present as expected and the experience could still be subject to further changes. During the alpha, developer Fearem was working in real time to apply updates and fixing issues when they arose.
The following is my time with Daemonical, the online multiplayer horror title that seems to do a wonderful job ensuring the atmosphere remains consistently creepy throughout.
Stranded on an island amidst an unfinished demon summoning ritual, myself and four other players are tasked to go and nab some ritual items to banish the demon. Trouble is, that said demon has randomly possessed one of us, resulting in an awkward conversation about who goes with who as we all look at one another without an ounce of trust.
Through a first-person perspective, I have to look at the palm of my hand which has been cut open and emits a glow when I’m facing in the direction of one of these altar items. Once in the vicinity of the items the cut flashes but gives no further information to the exact location. During my search, someone who has decided to stick with me is also inside the building, and while I’m rummaging through a wardrobe they seem to have found a pistol and walk out.
Now alone, I move onto the next building in the area and flick the flashlight on. A lonely mannequin situated in the middle of the room causes a fleeting moment of panic, sending shivers down my spine. It seems to be innocent, serving no purpose other than to creep players out…successfully. Next to it is a weird looking bone that can be interacted with.
I liked the feeling that Daemonical’s death isn’t truly the end for survivors by dropping them into an interactive spectator mode
While holding down the grab key it starts to float upwards whilst spinning. The bone moves out of my aiming reticle and drops, causing a booming crash and some magical blast. I start the grabbing process again with haste, following the spinning, floating bone this time until the progress wheel completes. I only hope the demon hasn’t been alerted to my location.
Taking possession of the bone causes the screen to go weird, distorted, and incredibly difficult to see anything. The next step is to get back to the altar or help the other survivors who seem to have buggered off. I decided to just head towards the orange embers floating in the sky, a sort of visual beacon to inform survivors where the altar is. Annoyingly, the screen’s effect from the bone makes it hard to see, so I just wander around lost. And then I hear gunshots in the distance to my right.
Two blue orbs float towards me as if I’d entered Hyrule and Nani was coming to my aid. They are in fact souls from the fallen survivors who can now wander the world and still communicate. In this case, the orbs are using voice comms, shouting at me saying I’m going the wrong way, and one orb tries explaining what the orange embers in the sky mean. The other orb sighs heavily and tells me to just follow them.
The demon screeches, I halt, then I panic as I see a scrawny demon lunging at me. I died. I liked the feeling that Daemonical’s death isn’t truly the end for survivors by dropping them into an interactive spectator mode. Handy to pass the time while the match runs its course.
Demon gameplay is a little bit different, and after the sudden character model transformation, the camera flicks into third-person. The demon can see players in the distance as white glowing dots moving through the terrain. However, those indicators fade when in the area and the demon has to find the survivors by sight and sound alone.
The demon can run at speed and jump fairly high, it’s also capable of swiping with its long spindly arms that come with a cooldown timer, ensuring attack spam is minimal. This works well by forcing more tactical demon play, and a scream feature is present as a secondary skill, but I just used it to warn survivors I was about to kill them. That was the plan anyway.
One survivor shut a door as they ran into a building in hopes of stopping my tall nude build and exposed buttocks, but to my surprise, I ended up smashing the door down. A small battle ensured with the survivor shooting rounds at me, and myself being stuck in the corner on the stairs. Eventually, I broke free and killed them. Good times.
Demon gameplay, while fun does still appear to be a little bit lacking. There doesn’t seem to be anything that makes it stand out hugely aside from its looks and little skills. It’d be nice to feel like I’m playing as a demon rather than just a costume. Sight advantages such as scent trails, or hearing cues could allow for more tactical positioning on the demon’s part.
I had fun but am concerned that the title seems to require voice communication and could lead to discouraging teammates.
This particular situation was so unexpected and tense that it made for a wonderfully dramatic moment. And there seem to be many moments like this littered throughout Daemonical. As a survivor I found myself catching movement in the distance and ran towards a tree to hide. I watched the demon walk past, then realised I had gotten stuck in the tree.
For the rest of the match, I was having a conversation with a dead player through the text chat system until finally the demon found me and devoured me.
Demon gameplay, while fun does still appear to be a little bit lacking. There doesn’t seem to be anything that makes it stand out hugely
Daemonical is wonderful to look at while the sun is up, but when night falls there’s a static overlay that appears to be trying to mimic a lens flare/dirt that just looks unappealing. The darkness itself works well in that everything seems to be sinister silhouettes until you whack the flashlight on adding to the terrifying atmosphere. Weather changes bringing different tensions and makes the world feels like it’s a living.
The sounds of drawers opening, and footsteps are naturally louder than everything else to keep your ears alert, although it’s the directional voice communications that stand out. Players voice comms are limited to a specific radius, and if someone wanders off, the further they go the quieter their microphone output.
The demon can also hear the survivors chatter, so it’s up to the players if they want to be chatty, or silent. It gives the game more depth and a stronger focus on teamwork, but it does seem to rely on voice communication to be successful. This, of course, results in peeved off players if someone —like myself— doesn’t have voice comms available at that time.
While I only had a short amount of time with Daemonical, I feel that the game has the groundworks for a decent and creepy online experience provided the servers are populated. I had fun but am concerned that the title seems to require voice communication and could lead to discouraging teammates. It certainly has nearly everything you’d expect in a horror executed nicely.
It has the fun factor that most online horror experiences lack and Fearem just needs to refine current features and introduce new ones to improve what is already in place. I’ll be certainly checking back in on this at a later date to see how it’s holding up as it gets further along into Early Access.
A code was provided to complete this piece.