Clash of the Titans
The freedom to dish out wanton displays of god-like power and competitive force provides numerous compelling incentives to lay waste to legions of beasts and smite enemies with destructive might in Gas Powered Games’ latest offering in the realm of real-time strategy. However, Demigod is very different from your average RTS game. Think of it more like a massive, fast-paced game of chess – only with destructive, magical, giant, ticked-off immortals, and armies of strange creatures instead of bland, back and white pieces – and you’ll be able to appreciate it properly.
Instead of building structures, seeking out resources, creating units, and exploring a lengthy campaign broken up by long-winded story moments, Demigod takes a “less talk, more rock” approach to the RTS genre. In all likelihood, players who’re accustomed to more traditional genre elements will feel something is slightly missing in the game’s design. Indeed, the development team has cut away all the extraneous, micromanagement B.S. to let players focus on tearing each other apart. Toss in some RPG elements, a slew of cool abilities to tank your immortal warriors out with, and a war effort upgrading framework, and you’re in for a wild time.
Things have gotten a bit out of hand in the realm of Rokkur, ever since the mighty All Father wound up missing. The sudden absence of the divine ruler has left a vacancy in the heavenly pantheon, sparking an epic war among his immortal demigod children who walk amongst those in the mortal world. In a massive power struggle to determine which successor will be granted ascension to true godhood, eight formidable demigods must amass their armies and duke it out to decide who has the biggest war hammer. Whether or not the mortal world is squashed in the process is of little consequence. If the plot setup for Demigod sounds a bit on the thin side, it’s because it is. Furthermore, there’s no traditional campaign mode to speak of. In case you spaced out in the preceding paragraphs, let me reiterate: this game is all about the action. While that’s no excuse for throwing the story content out the window, I’m more inclined to let it slide after being roped-in by the gameplay itself.
Demigod’s real-time, battle-centric gameplay pits the forces of light and darkness against one another, and each side can be manned by any combination of the game’s eight quasi-deities. Intense matches play out on a variety of closed arenas designed for non-stop action that will test your on-the-fly strategizing abilities. While you’re still part of a larger army, the main focus is on controlling a sole demigod unit to provide leadership or firepower support to the smaller groups of troops that are spit out of portals at regular intervals near your base of operations. The battle constantly rages around you on the map, and you can decide where to lend a hand or stage a direct assault to gain more ground on the map. As you slay foes and topple rival demigods, your character gains experience and levels-up, allowing you to pick from a progressive tree of special abilities and powers to unleash on opponents. This aspect of the game has a strong Diablo-like quality to it that works in its favor.
Each of the demigods has strengths, weaknesses, and powerful abilities that are well-balanced and allow for a broad range of tactics in battle. They’re divided into two main groups; assassins are heftier demigods geared towards a more direct style of combat play, while generals’ abilities revolve around summoning and controlling a variety of unique support minions. The character designs are quite impressive and each is very different in appearance and utility. For example, Rook is a slow, hulking, walking castle creature that can be equipped with numerous turrets and wields a giant hammer to crush victims with. Unclean Beast, a slathering undead creature, can infect foes with crippling plagues and possesses great speed in battle. The Torchbearer switches between fire and ice magic to alternately freeze and burn foes, and Oak is an axe-wielding warrior who summons the spirits of fallen comrades to his side. Other demigods have equally intriguing abilities and all can be equipped with armor, items, and magical artifacts to boost their powers significantly.
The flow of battle fluctuates in each map layout, but opposing armies start out at their respective bases with meager resources. Win conditions can be adjusted between destroying the enemy citadel, accruing war effort points, slaying a set number of opponent demigods, and crippling a set number of enemy fortress defenses. Clashing in encounter after encounter, your demigod will gain experience as you capture key strategic flag points on the map and whittle away at your enemies. When your demigod falls in battle, you’re transported to a hazy spirit realm high above the playing field until a timer ticks down to zero and you re-spawn back at your base. To allow players to focus on the action, resource management is largely automated. Gold is accrued from mines you control and can be used to purchase items and improvements at your citadel. As your war effort levels-up and gains momentum, you’re able to upgrade defenses and beef up the types and strength of creatures that spill forth from your summoning portals.
Maps are well-designed with plenty of choke points, defensive areas, and key objective positions to control. At ground level, you’ll get a great view of the carnage and the massive strength of the clashing demigods and their forces. Panning back to greater distances lets you appreciate the beauty of each battlefield location. The excellently varied arenas range from the top of a spire-like temple surrounded by lush jungles below and a classically inspired causeway with Romanesque statues and flowing fountains, and a lava-filled underworld and a sci-fi nightscape. The combatants themselves are also a sight to be seen.
Demigod’s single-player mode is essentially the same as its multiplayer offerings, only you’ll play with and against A.I.-controlled demigod bots of varying intelligence instead of humans. The multiplayer focus and a lack of a more traditional, story-driven solo campaign may not sit as well with all players, but the streamlined action-RPG gameplay proves to be seriously addictive in short bursts. The development team managed to inject a surprising level of gameplay depth into such a pared-down RTS design, and it works out.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.3 Graphics
Beautifully designed arenas marry well with slick characters. 4.0 Control
Diablo-style mouse clicking combat works wonderfully alongside hotkey special abilities. 3.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The demigods have a lot to say, including ridiculously cheesy one-liners and familiar phrases. 3.9 Play Value
As far as arena-style battles go, playing match after match holds up for a long time, even if the scenarios are a bit limited and the gameplay very streamlined. 4.3 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.