“Battle for Demon City”: Breaking the paradigm of third person shooter games in the “Indie” landscape

“In an overcrowded genre that grows by the dozens every day, find a little feature that can make a remarking difference from all others and exploit it until you’re heard.”

That’s pretty much the design statement of “Battle for Demon City”: It started like the typical “zombie” game, and yet, on every opportunity, this game tried to be different from the mainstream. Sometimes this worked in our favor, and sometimes this got a little bit into the “odd” area. Still, according to the feedback I’ve gotten so far, no one has used the word “average” to describe it.

“Battle for Demon City” is a third-person shooter that follows the adventures of Alice, a Police Lieutenant that is sent to a city that has been taken by an army of demons. Her mission is simple: to vanquish the invading army and restore the metropolis’ peace and order. The story starts when our heroine lands by parachute somewhere in the outskirts of the conflict area. At that point, it is not yet clear the reason of the invasion or even the mastermind behind the movement. As stages are completed while Alice “crawls” her way towards downtown in a city turned into a maze, short animated clips are shown, revealing the game story bit by bit.

Windows 10 Link
Xbox 360 Link
Free Demo (Windows 10)

As it sounds, the main concept is pretty much like any other “shooter” game. However, the effort to be different can be seen pretty much everywhere.

For instance, shooting along will not help the player to defeat the enemy. Oddly enough, it is the “footwork” that can make the difference between winning and death by being run over by an angry mob: When Alice is aiming with a weapon, she moves rather slowly to avoid jeopardizing her shot. However, when she’s not using any weapon, she’s the fastest character in the game. That, along with the skill to turn 180 degrees at once, allows the player to switch between making a stand and shoot the enemy horde, or turn and retreat to a more convenient attacking position.

Then, there’s the animation challenge imposed by a “Third-Person” shooter. After all, in this genre, the main character is front and center, and it is expected that said character interacts with all game elements with a rich set of animations, especially if there is a story to tell (otherwise it would make more sense to create a “First-Person shooter”). In this aspect, “Battle for Demon City” does not fall short, showcasing over 230 animation sequences. In fact, Alice alone has 104 individual animations, just for game-play alone, and that is not counting the animation of the braid which is calculated at run-time. This game clearly makes a point when even the entrance of the main character is done with a scene featuring a parachute jump.

One factor that is seldom seen in games of this genre is when the player takes “damage” from an enemy, taking in consideration the associated consequences of a true melee attack. In “Battle for Demon City”, there is a “stun” animation every time the player takes a hit, adding a push from where the blow came from. This is a fraction of a second when Alice is trying to recover from whatever hit her, rendering her unable to react. At one point, when she is completely surrounded, the enemy gets a hold over her and the game-play changes to a button-mashing session in a struggle trying to get free, that ends with Alice shooting a round into her attacker’s head.

The story displayed in the game also tries to be different, creating a satire based on a fantastic succession of events, sabotaged with real life problems. More than giving purpose to the game for both the heroine and the invading army, it provides the context to expose the personality and moral values of the main characters. As it should, it does not spare any opportunity to showcase the animation engine driving this project.

A small note that has been mentioned by some players is that there is no “up and down” when aiming. This behavior was done on purpose in order to simplify the game-play so the player can focus more on the footwork since enemies spawn pretty much all around the main character. In general, “Battle for Demon City” tries to be friendlier than the average shooter, focusing more in game play mechanics rather than grotesque scenes and purposeless violence.

Overall, despite the fact that the game started as a typical shooter, “Battle for Demon City” has plenty of interesting factors in a clear effort to be different, offering a new perspective within the “Indie” landscape for this genre.