Day 336: “Lil’ Demons: Splatter”

Posted: 2011/10/13 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #336, and today’s game is “Lil’ Demons: Splatter”.

“Lil’ Demons: Splatter” was first suggested to me in an interview I did with interview with James Johnston and Hamst3r (Ezmuze+). They had contributed music to the game, but at the the time (spring of this year) the game was still fairly recent and didn’t meet my criteria for review. Now that it’s dropped off of most of the top-50 lists, I was interested in checking it out. It’s a gorgeous looking game that got generally good reviews, but was criticised for repetitive gameplay due to too modes of play. The v1.1 update has helped in that regard by increasing the modes of play by 50% (through admittedly, that’s from 2 to 3) by adding a very fun gametype called Knockoff! This is an 80 Microsoft Point game with strong production values that’s well worth checking out.

First, from the developer (MatthewM):

“Kill the demons, absorb their blood for powerups! Lil’ Demons: Splatter includes Wave Survival and King of the Hill game modes, piles of weapons, and supports multiple 3D rendering modes including anaglyph glasses. All for just 80 points! NEW! v1.1 adds a new gametype, Knockoff, as well as a whole mess of tweaks to make it even better!”

The game’s three modes are much as you’d expect from the names: a mode where you survive unending waves of enemies, a mode where you stand in bubbles that slowly absorb into you as you possess them (if you can keep the lil’ demons at bay long enough), and “Knockoff!”. what’s Knockoff!? It’s the most interesting of the lot: unlike the other modes, you don’t take damage from contact with a demon, but you are on a small platform with lots of gaps and you bounce off of the demons on contact; the challenge here is not to be thrown down to your doom.

On the features front, the game doesn’t disappoint for a $1 outing. 3D support is there, and almost any kind of 3D glasses will work (from the red/blue style that’s been around for more than half a century, right up to some of the very newest types of glasses). Four enemy classes offer respectable variety: red demons leap at you and explode on impact, blue demons attempt to dodge your shots, yellow demons explode upon death (which can damage you, but also can be used to take out other demons if timed well), and green demons split into multiple smaller, quicker demons when you shoot them. To push the demon hordes back you have a shotgun, a laser, a rocket launcher, and a pistol, with predictable advantages and disadvantages in ammo, fire rate, and damage. The one thing missing in the variety front are the arenas. The game definitely needs more maps, and hopefully a future update (or sequel) will address that. Still, it’s not hard to get your 80 Microsoft Points of value out of what comes with the game. The other thing that would really take the game to the next level would be co-op, and that (after new maps) would definitely be my #2 request for a future update or sequel.

An unexpected and creative element of the game is that demons leave pools of blood when they die, and walking through this imparts power-ups (and one power-down) to you. Power-ups/downs are colour-coded by demon offering speed increase, speed decrease, armour up, and fire-rate up.

The update addressed a lot of small performance issues as well, but the Knockoff! gametype is (to the best of my knowledge) unique among first-person shooters and given this is only an 80 point game that looks gorgeous and has tight controls, there’s no good reason (post-update, at least) not to add it to your collection if you’ve ever enjoyed a first-person shooter.

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