Supreme Commander developer Gas Powered Games seeks to take online PC strategy games to a higher plane with the release of Demigod.
Demigod is an action real-time strategy game with role-playing game elements that obviously takes a great deal of inspiration from the popular Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients. Instead of commanding armies and managing resources, players take on the role of a single demigod, battling against other like-powered beings for a chance at a promotion to full-on godhood. It's a fast-paced answer to the slow and plodding pace featured in many real-time strategy offerings, with a strong focus on online multiplayer.
Does Demigod meet its goal of offering a fresh, new experience to the strategy genre, or is the game suffering from delusions of grandeur?
Divine Gameplay: Much like the Warcraft III mod Defense of the Ancients, Demigod is not a real-time strategy game. It's an arena combat game with a real-time strategy feel, role-playing game leveling, and first-person shooter goals. When the game is at its best the balance that Gas Powered Games has achieved between the different elements truly shines through. Depending on the options chosen before battle and the payers involved, games can be quick and dirty or long and drawn out. There is no real resource management and no complicated troop commands to master. Just get in, level your demigod, and get the job done. Simple, elegant, and amazingly addictive.
A Varied Pantheon: While there are only eight different demigod characters to choose from, each has a wide variety of different powers to choose from, meaning that two different players using the same character can wind up playing it in entirely different ways. If another player tells you that a certain character sucks, odds are they just aren't playing them right. A great deal of the strategy in Demigod comes from knowing which powers to level based on the round's goals and your opposition.
A Wealth of Options: With only four game modes and eight maps, Demigod might seem a bit limited at first, but a generous set of match customization options adds a great deal of variety to the title. If the plain vanilla matches are getting old, you can always start off with large amounts of cash, increase the game's pace, or start your demigods off at maximum level to see how things play out across an even playing field.
Heavenly Presentation: Demigod looks and sounds absolutely beautiful. The action plays out fluidly from both a far-off top down perspective or zoomed in close to the action, and the arenas themselves are works of art. The demigods themselves have real character, from their voices and rumblings to their unique behaviors.
A Supreme Lack of Guidance: There is absolutely no tutorial mode for Demigod, and I mean none. Outside of the odd tip while games are loading, there really isn't anything that tells you how to play included in the game proper. Upon first starting up a single player tournament I expected some sort of hand-holding to ensue, but that simply wasn't the case. As a result, my first round of play ended with me losing horribly. A game that has the capability to be as engrossing as Demigod does could really benefit from some sort of demonstration showing players how much fun it can be once you know what you are doing.
Ungodly Broken Multiplayer: Stardock continues to work on stabilizing multiplayer, but as of this writing it is still pretty much broken, at least where I am concerned. I've never been able to join a quick match or participate in the game's ongoing online Pantheon tournament. My only success at joining an online game has come from joining a custom game, and even then I've had to wait in a lobby chatting while we watched other players fruitlessly trying to connect. Once you get into an actual game it's gobs of fun. Getting there, however, is no picnic.
Demigod has the potential to be a truly great game; it just isn't quite there yet. It's got a unique sort of gameplay that successfully blends aspects of several different genres into a completely compelling, suprisingly deep, and utterly addictive multiplayer experience. Unfortunately the focus here is on multiplayer. With very little offered in the way of a single player game, Gas Powered Games is obviously banking on Demigod's online aspect, and quite frankly that isn't working at the moment.
Once the online connectivity issues are sorted out, Demigod will be a force to be reckoned with. Until then, picking up a copy is akin to paying $39 to participate in a glorified beta test.
Demigod, developed by Gas Powered Games, published by Stardock, released April 14th for the PC. Retails for $40. Completed single player tournament with multiple demigods on normal difficulty, played multiple single player skirmish rounds, and several cutom online multiplayer battles. Was unable to connect for multiplayer Skirmish or Pantheon modes.
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