Review: Demigod

John Funk | 14 May 2009 13:00
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The Demigods themselves are nicely varied as well. There are two types of heroes: Assassins specialize in single combat, whereas Generals can raise a small army of minions to fight alongside them. For the most part, the playable characters have very different styles of play, which is refreshing - and that doesn't even count different builds of the same character. You have a limited number of skill points to spend, and it's impossible to get all the potential upgrades for a given character in any one match, so it's very easy to find a Demigod and a build that suits your style of play.

The biggest problem with the selection of heroes is that there's simply too few of them. This really does feel like a nitpick, given that there's such flexibility and room for customization within any given Demigod - a frost Torch Bearer and fire Torch Bearer play differently, a Rook that specializes in setting up defense towers and passive damage is going to feel very different from a Rook that specializes in whacking things with a giant hammer - but from an aesthetic point of view, it feels kind of cheap. With only eight Demigods, in a 5v5 match there's bound to be some duplicate choices. Of course, the developers have said they're adding more, but time will be the only answer for that.

Even though the single-player game is decent enough - the AI is pretty competent on harder difficulties - where the game really shines is in multiplayer. Demigod matches with (and against) other people are honestly some of the most fun I've had with a new game on my PC in a very long time. It's frantic, it's strategic, it's a team effort, and it's just so very satisfying to stomp the other team into the ground.

Unfortunately, getting to the good part can be difficult. The peer-to-peer multiplayer design of Demigod means that everybody has to be connected to everybody in order for the match to start. So in a 5v5, rather than nine people having to be connected to one host or a server, everyone has to be connected to nine other people - and if just one of those connection fails, the game can't start. It probably took me checking out seven or eight lobbies for every one match that actually started. Once the carnage was on, it was tons of fun - but getting to it quickly grows tiresome.

Ultimately - and it feels strange to say this - I think Demigod almost does DotA better than DotA does. It doesn't have quite the depth of the older game yet, but it's still young, and it still has room to grow. The gameplay is solid, the map design is really cool, the heroes are all different and yet all fun to play, and really, my biggest gripe (other than the lack of characters and difficulty getting online) is that sometimes the camera controls were a bit unintuitive, or that some of the item tooltips are unclear. Now all Stardock and Gas Powered Games need is for some Swedish guy to make a techno song about the game, and then they can call it an unabashed success.

Bottom Line: Frantic, fun, and surprisingly varied team-based gameplay. The character designs are good, the character gameplay designs are better - Demigod offers a few new spins on a tried-and-tested concept and provides some of the most intense multiplayer fun gamers will have on their PC this year. The multiplayer connections can be a bit frustrating, and the developers need to work on adding new playable Demigods ASAP, but those are just minor blemishes on an otherwise solid title.

Recommendation: If you like DotA, or if you just like action games, and you've got a good internet connection, give Demigod a whirl.

John Funk likes playing as Regulus because he thinks he's overpowered.

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