Demons’ Score from Square-Enix is an absolutely fantastic game marred by an absolutely horrendous in-app purchase scheme (and some pretty awful acting, too). Honestly, I’ve never been this ambivalent towards an iOS game before; I loved playing it, but wanted to delete it after every gaming session.
What is it?
Simply put, you (an average college girl) and a talking teddy bear (formerly David) float through massively long hallways fighting demons to obtain their score (as in music score) to fight more powerful demons and ultimately save the world from an uprising by hell…and, of course, save your father. You’ll do this by tapping, swiping and slashing along with the music…and wearing the kind of outfits that even Lady GaGa would claim are in poor taste.
Demons from hell: long on hallways, short on modesty.
How does it work?
After an introduction in which you meet one of the most annoying comic sidekicks in the history of entertainment (David), you move from building to building at the Salem State Hospital and Asylum in an attempt to locate your missing father. The action begins quickly, as you immediately acquire (and master) the ability to fly as you pursue demons you must fight by tapping or swiping the screen to the rhythm of the music and visual queues. The music varies from metal to disco to classical and beyond, depending upon the demon, but the gameplay is always the same.
The various gestures are broken down into accuracy levels, and you get more points (thereby leveling up faster) for increased accuracy. Miss, and your health bar drops. Miss too many, and you die.
The levels are broken up onto two stages. The first is the floating corridor level. The second is the better choreographed boss level. Beat it, and you can acquire its demon score, which slightly alters your abilities and greatly alters your voice (you get that demon’s actor, which is quite odd if it was a male) and appearance (you get that demon’s fashion sense, which is mostly pretty embarrassing, but sometimes okay).
The music is often a bit bombastic, but it disappears into the gameplay and changes up enough that you’ll never grow to hate it too much. There’s something here for everyone. And although the graphics are quite stunning in parts (it runs on the Unreal Engine), you get little time to watch it behind all the tapping. I wish there was a way to watch the levels after you’ve beaten them, as it would also help you memorize the tap/swipe patterns for better scores.
Is it contagious?
Yes, but you’ll hate yourself if you get too into it. Despite costing $6.99 up front. That only gives you access to two demons. After that, in order to get the different music and accompanying different gameplay, you have to pay anywhere from $2.99 to $9.99 to unlock each demon you’ve beaten.
There’s also a matter of difficulty level. Easy and Normal mode are both quite simple to work through, but Hard is just insanely difficult. I could make it through boss levels with nearly perfect scores on Normal mode, but couldn’t get through half a stage on Hard mode. Is this specifically to force you to purchase Souleaters to help you maintain your health? I don’t know…I never bothered to buy any Souleaters.
And finally, the game seems unfinished. Some of the cutscenes are fully animated, while others are still images. And in the animated sequences, the timing of the dialogue is way off, as if acted by high school students who don’t understand timing or edited by someone who doesn’t understand the “cut selected” command.
So, when you’re actually in the gameplay of Demons’ Score, it’s about as good a time as you’re going to have with your iOS device. But because everything that surrounds the gameplay is as evil as the demons you’ll fight, it’s not something I can recommend.