Demon's Crystals is a twin-stick arcade shooter where you take on the role of one of four demons with their own special blasters to destroy enemies and collect crystals along the way. You have the option of going solo or getting three of your friends in on the action for a four-player kind of mayhem ala Gauntlet, as you battle your way through stages and destroy enemies that try to block your way. You'll explore three different worlds with eight levels in each, every area has a set of enemies, a timer for each area, and a final boss. Once you defeat the boss, you move onto the next area.
When selecting a character, there's no real difference between them beyond the color and appearance, which is kind of disappointing as you would assume the entire purpose to making four characters would be to make them all different. If I play a Ninja Turtles game, I know I have two long-range fighters and two short-range fighters, each with advantages and disadvantages. But in Demon's Crystals, there's nothing that makes one person's blaster better than the other beyond leveling up.
Each level had three sets of difficulties, and the harder you go the more challenging the hordes become. Every area has two hordes, which can range from defeating all the enemies to collecting a certain number of crystals as the goal. Killing enemies will gain you experience, which you will then use to level up and gain extra health or power-ups you can purchase to make the further levels easier. The attacks and bullets to your guns are what make up for the lack of different character traits, as you'll have an unlimited supply of ammo to take down enemies in crazy patters and ultimate destruction type gear. They don't last forever, so you'll need to manage their use wisely as you'll quickly go back to firing with a single stream of bullets. There are also various powerups (like mushrooms that can make you big or small) that are thrown into every level to change things up.
One of the drawbacks I kept running into in Demon's Crystals was originality in enemies. Often the game takes enemies you've already run into from other levels and changes the color so they "match" the stage. But ultimately this feels like lazy design work as it seems like the creators either ran out of ideas or couldn't support a bigger variety of people to take out. How many small dragon-like creatures with blue and green skin do I need to take about before you give me something I haven't seen already? The bosses end up becoming the best part of the game, but there's so few of them that it ends up showing how limited the gameplay actually is.
There's some nice multiplayer features like battle modes where the four of you square off against each other, or collecting crystals and fighting bosses to see who is the last one standing. But ultimately this stuff is hindered by the fact that it's local competition only and there's no online mode to support any kind of fights or even co-op play with the game itself. The game feels like there's a lot of very cool elements here that people would dig, but then you discover one little issues and the entire thing is thrown off. Not even the game design and music, which are both nice and pleasing to the sense, can take away the realization when it washes over you.
Demon's Crystals isn't a bad game, but it isn't that good of a game either. There's great elements here married to a decent story, but it's also lacking a few things that would have made it great. I can't fault the game for what it was trying to accomplish, but I can fault it for what it failed to include and innovate, especially when I've seen other indie titles with lesser budgets put out better. Maybe if they added some updates this would be worth playing longer and spending more time with, but for now it's kind of a shadow of other better games in the genre.