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Demon Truck Review

7.5

Shoot-em-ups aren’t exactly a rare genre in the indie gaming scene, but few of them are quite like Demon Truck. While most such games give you command of a high tech fighter or spaceship, Demon Truck puts you behind the wheel of a massive, gun-covered truck, cruising along the highways of hell crushing demons beneath you mighty wheels. It’s a straightforward hit of old-school action, and well worth a look if you enjoy high speed action games or just have a soft spot for games that look like Heavy Metal album covers.

Demon Truck boils gaming down to its simplest essence: A pure test of reflexes and reaction time unencumbered by story, complex controls, or higher thought. In fact, it’s so simple that you don’t even need to worry about steering, as your truck roars straight down the road entirely under its own volition. As you blast your way through waves of enemies , there are only two things you need to concern yourself with: firing the guns, and activating the boosters.

Clicking the left mouse button will cause you to open fire with every weapon at your disposal, automatically targeting the nearest enemy. Destroying enemies, in addition to earning points, also provides you with Soul Fury, which powers your overboost. This ability, unleashed by the left mouse button, has two functions: A quick tap of the button allows you to briefly deflect enemy projectiles back to their source, while holding it down gives you a hefty speed boost as well as granting invincibility and allowing you to crush enemies and smash through otherwise indestructible obstacles. Every enemy destroyed this way provides ammo for your weapons, but extended rams quickly drain your Soul Fury gauge. Playing Demon Truck is a matter balancing both ammo and Soul Fury, and switching rapidly between firing and ramming as the situation dictates.

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Like all the best arcade games, this sounds simple in theory, but is brutally difficult in practice. Wave after wave of randomly generated enemies, interrupted by the occasional boss, hurl themselves in front of you at ever greater speeds, and you’ll need lightning reflexes and a keen sense of your available resources to defeat them. Often it feels downright unfair, throwing obstacles at you faster than you can possibly react, but it has the compulsive “one more try” appeal that characterizes most great shoot-em-ups. The draw of honing your skills and improving your score is heightened by the presence of an online leader board, so you can see exactly how well you measure up to the rest of the world.

Given the game’s intense difficulty, you’ll want every advantage you can get, and fortunately Demon Truck gives you a few. At the end of every wave, you get a choice of two new upgrades to add to your truck, ranging from extra guns to bonus health to explosive clown launchers. Learning what each of these options does is as simple as checking their descriptions, but it takes some experience to figure out which are the best fit for you. All that learning might be in vain though, as available upgrades, like everything else in the game, are random, and getting a bad set can seriously impede your chances of success. This isn’t really a problem though, as Demon Truck is a very fast playing game. The time from beginning a run to going out in a blaze of fiery glory is usually only a couple of minutes, and you can leap back into action in seconds for another attempt.

As befits a game with a name like Demon Truck, the overall aesthetic is Doom-style heavy metal art in pixel form. Blood, metal, and explosions all feature prominently, and the effect is a non-stop barrage of genuinely awesome moments. To add to the fun, each wave gets in its own randomly generated melodramatic name: “Hate in the Engine”, “666 Miles of Agony”, and “The Guilty Under the Wheels” are just some of the possibilities, so playing a round of Demon Truck is like driving through your own personal heavy metal album. Unfortunately, all the onscreen action is occasionally a little too much, resulting in screens filled with distracting clutter when you really just want to know where the enemies are. Cheap deaths caused by enemies you couldn’t pick out through the mess are a common occurrence, a problem which is exacerbated by your trucks highly dubious driving skills, which frequently see it driving directly into bullets and obstacles.

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Obviously, you can’t have a Metal game without a Metal soundtrack, and Demon Truck has a great one. It’s probably best described as a combination of metal and techno as interpreted by the sound chip from a NES. It’s good stuff that sets the mood nicely, though it does suffer from a lack of variety. You’ll be listening to the same tracks again and again and again, but it’s actually surprisingly hard to notice the repetition if you aren’t looking for it. The non-stop action keeps you from focusing too heavily on the background music, so all you’ll remember is that the whole experience was an unrelenting adrenaline rush.

Demon Truck is a fun, arcade-style shoot-em-up that’s as simple as they come. Like its arcade predecessors, it’s as frustrating as it is addictive, but if you have the patience for it and don’t mind a few cheap deaths, honing your demon-crushing skills can be a rewarding experience.

 

Demon Truck was played on PC



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