Daemonical is a multiplayer horror survival game from newcomers Fearem Games. Interestingly enough, I’m not a fan of horror – I can’t stomach movies or books, and videogames tend to give me vivid nightmares. But I’ve had a lot of fun on PS Plus freebie Dead by Daylight, and I assumed this would be similar, so I mean how bad could it really be?
The answer, obviously, is pretty bad. Daemonical banks on a similar core premise to Dead by Daylight – four human survivors must complete a task to win while a beastie hunts them – but the similarities end there. Daemonical is physically darker, less forgiving, and far creepier. And more to the point, there is no comfort in teamwork.
Let me explain. Daemonical has a pretty unique gameplay mechanic, one that ups the fear and paranoia factor exponentially. One player is chosen to be the demon, and will begin the round looking like one of the surviving humans; they can control when they morph into a nasty hell beast, and are not required to change until it suits their nefarious goals.
This is crucial to the entire flow of the game. Working with teammates is a necessity in an environment so dark and confusing – your goal is to find four ritual parts in the murk, so working with friends is a huge boon. Spending an entire game eyeing your non-communicative teammate with suspicion is both mentally exhausting and also distracting. And when you finally find what you’re looking for, there is every chance that your pal might shed his human flesh and rip you to shreds.
You begin the game at sunset, and skim through a brief tutorial: hold Q to raise your left hand, and you’ll see a glowing cut in your palm that acts as a homing device. Use the wound – and audio cues – to find your way to ritual parts. You’ll also be searching for additional items such as torches/headlamps and guns/knives around the woodland map.
The game informs you that the demon will be chosen at night-fall. He/she can see other players through objects at a distance, but will have to physically search for prey once he/she gets too close. The demon also responds to certain noises: drop a ritual item whilst trying to pick it up, for example, and you’ll land yourself in hot water.
So you’re wandering about a little blindly. Maybe you’ve found a teammate, maybe you’re armed. The wound on your palm is blinking frantically, and you can feel that you’re closing in on a ritual part; you’ve just spied it when your torch light flickers softly. You spin around, but it’s too late – a gaunt white face with bottomless black eyes and a grin of crooked, stake-like teeth lurches into view and disembowels you where you stand.
Fortunately for you, in Daemonical death is not the end. Your soul leaves your body as a ball of white light, and you have two choices: either accept your fate and help others by lighting their way to useful items; or frantically bug another player until he/she follows you back to your mangled corporeal form to revive you.
The demon wins when he/she kills all four survivors; the survivors win by surviving until daylight or by completing the ritual. And that’s about all there is to it. It’s simple, terrifying, co-operative fun that needs more attention – there are certainly some wrinkles to iron out, but this is the sort of multiplayer game that you and a bunch of friends can laugh or scream yourselves witless to of an evening. For more information, check out the Steam page or the Fearem Games website. Daemonical is currently in pre-release, alpha stage – you can pick it up on the Steam store for USD $14.99.
This preview is based on an early access copy of the game provided by the publisher.