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Denny Markovic
18 May, 2009

Demigod Review

PC Review | Does it reach Godhood, or suffer from a Mortal blow?
Strategy games have always had a pretty broad range of styles in terms of how you control armies and manage economies. From frenetic and brutal combat with heroes, units and giant buildings in the style of WarCraft III, to commanding an obscene amount of units on screen all the while launching a good five to six nukes at once in the largely crazy Supreme Commander, there’s a good amount of diversity in the genre. You’ve got your deep games, your simplistic games, your really, really deep games, and so many more. But what about an RTS that focuses solely on just one unit?

In comes Demigod, Gas Powered Game’s latest creation and brand new IP. Focusing solely on the control of one unit, the entire point of the game is to annihilate other Demigods with your Demigod so you stop being a Demigod and ultimately become a god. Sure, we made it sound kind of confusing but it’s quite a simple premise.

We’ll be the first to admit though, Demigod is not the first game to use the ‘hero-only’ attitude in-game. The idea actually came up over a decade ago, with the lesser known Aeon of Strife, a modification for the sci-fi classic StarCraft. What most people would know of though is Defence of the Ancients, better known as DoTA to most, which is a hugely popular mod for WarCraft III.

Talk about a cock-block..

Talk about a cock-block..
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But before imagining how boring and simple controlling one hero can be, you’d be surprised to find that Demigod has some roots that burrow much deeper than you thought. Matches are split between two teams: the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness. Each team can hold a maximum of five Demigods, with the arenas perfectly mirrored. What we mean is that the layout of each map is exactly the same from the viewpoint of both Light and Darkness, so there’s no imbalance between forces.

Before actually beginning a match, you pick your Demigod, which you can choose from a total of eight. Each Demigod is entirely unique in play style and design, and all are really great fun to play with. Want to be a cackling psychopath with a split personality that controls both the elements of Ice and Fire? Torch Bearer is your man. Want to be a holy necromancer-paladin hybrid that can raise spirits to fight for him? Go no further than the Oak. Each Demigod has a vast array of abilities to pick from which increase in power as you level up, and they add a rather large amount of depth into the actual gameplay when you begin fighting other Demigods for Supremacy.

But there’s an added twist: all eight Demigods are split into two different ‘types’ - Assassin and General. The Assassin type Demigods are built for high damage output and more aggressive play rather than supportive, while the General type has more supportive abilities, and also has the power to command a small army of its own. So if you feel like going towards the more traditional RTS way, then General types might just be your flavour of the day.

Pretty big balls there, no wonder he always scores.

Pretty big balls there, no wonder he always scores.
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Once the actual match has begun, the main objective of your team is to capture flags situated at key points on the map to gain experience and boost stats that are attuned to that certain flag. This is the most basic way to push further up and attempt to break through the defensive towers blocking off the entrance to the enemy citadel, which is what you need to destroy in order to succeed. Some flags also control gold flow and reinforcements (AI controlled reinforcements are constantly streaming through portals to aid in pushing forward), so capturing these key points could turn the tide of any battle. Gold is also earned through killing the ‘creeps’ that spawn through portals, and by killing other Demigods, which can then be used at your home base to either upgrade your citadel, or purchase potions and stat boosting items from the item shop. Matches can last a good thirty minutes sometimes without any breakthrough from either side, but when something big does happen, you’ll notice it and things get a lot more exhilarating and intense.

In fact, from the get-go, things simply do not let up in Demigod. Whether you’re in a 2v2 or a 5v5, things start off hard and fast, and only continue to get more intense the longer the match lasts. Downing a Demigod on the field is not an easy feat, but once you muster the skills to vanquish your foe, you'll not only feel proud of yourself but you'll be a lot richer, which is why the game asks for so much caution. If you die, the Demigod who killed you and his assisting allies get gold, which lets them upgrade quicker. Not only that but you’re out of the match for at least 20 seconds before a respawn. Demigod re-instils the fear of dying in a game again, and we were tearing our hair out yelling “Oh GOD no” many a time from making silly mistakes. Teamwork, discipline and a decent amount of knowledge of your Demigod’s abilities is key to winning, which is what makes Demigod such a fun and maddeningly addictive game to play, whether it be with friends or randoms online.

But Demigod would feel nowhere near as epic without its superb visuals and art design. Running off the engine powering Supreme Commander, Demigod pushes the engine a little further and pumps out some gorgeous looking visuals. Models and levels are designed with a clean and sharp look, giving the game that feeling of utter divinity, which would be the entire point considering you battle to become a god. Character designs are sweet too, highlights in particular being the Demigod Torchbearer, who levitates and incinerates anything around him when he is in his fire form, and the Rook, a Demigod that is literally a walking castle with a giant hammer. It all runs very well too, as we had everything set to max on a Quad Core Q6600, 4GB of RAM and 8800GTX. We do have to admit though, level design isn’t all that flash, but considering the concept and its effect on gameplay, it’s a somewhat forgivable design choice. Though the gameplay is where Demigod's heart is, it can’t be denied that the visuals give it some ‘soul’ to go with it.

Because lighting just a fire isn't enough for Torchbearer.

Because lighting just a fire isn't enough for Torchbearer.
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The game's audio is no slouch either, with great use of sound effects and voice acting from each respective Demigod. Roars of the Unclean Beast will rattle your room from the resonating bass, and the holy smiting of an Oak’s raised battle axe will pierce your speakers with treble. The sound effects are balanced well, so as to emphasise the power of a Demigod; things feel immense and full of heft, which enhance the experience further coupled with its great visuals. The soundtrack is awesome too, with music dynamically picking up pace if you’re in the midst of a battle, and slowing down into a silent urgency when you’re retreating.

Demigod shows that in order to have a deep game, you don’t need a multi-tiered class based perk MMORPG theory-crafted system. All you need is a character to control, abilities to use and a citadel to defend, and with this comes a lot more depth than you would think. Tactics between teams can become increasingly more complex and tricky, and a whole match can be based almost entirely on how you use your Demigod and co-operate with others. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a shame to see no tutorial mode built-in, as entering a match for the first time can be quite an overwhelming experience, but this is redeemed somewhat with the inclusion of full bot support and a tournament mode called ‘Pantheon’, which pits you against AI controlled Demigod’s throughout each map, giving you some time to get the gist of things. The main star is the Multiplayer aspect however, which makes the game really shine. For RTS fans, Demigod is a must-play, who are likely to find its style and gameplay hugely appealing. Though Demigod doesn’t necessarily reach god-like levels of gaming, it does give us a nice taste of it, and sits comfortably between the world of mortals and pure divinity, as it intended.
The Score
Demigod shines brightest in its multiplayer, and rarely stops shining. A must for RTS fans and something to look into for multiplayer junkies. 9
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Demigod Content

Stardock and Gas Powered Games team up for Demigod
08 Apr, 2008 Interesting things planned for multiplayer.
Demigod site live
09 Jan, 2008 Latest Gas Powered Games newsletter tells all.
This Week's Releases - 11/5/09
11 May, 2009 Readying for battle.
15 Comments
4 years ago
Just couldn't help yourself could ya Denny... icon_razz.gif
4 years ago
icon_lol.gif
4 years ago
Wish I could run demigod, looks like I need a new computer
4 years ago
Toolman wrote
Just couldn't help yourself could ya Denny... icon_razz.gif
Hey hey hey! It meets the criteria, and it's an excellent game icon_razz.gif
4 years ago
All true and all good. Buying it off impulse for $55 makes for a wiser choice then waiting for a retail box EXCEPT for a game that is multiplayer focused (with no real single player campaign but rather a training tournament ala unreal tournament) having some seriously flakey match-making and net code is a massive problem. A visit to the demigod forums will proide details but baxically they are trying to peer network rather then server deliver and to date it is still not proving adequate for 5v5 maps (or smaller for some) -- the complete lack of being able to "clan" matchup (promised for later) also means that multiplayer games are played with (ranked) strangers unless you go the custom game route also limiting appeal. Also having no in-game voice-chat support limits team work communications.

None of which are major faults in most games except as already mentioned this has been designed and sold as multiplayer from the get go. At the moment it feels like a beta product. Given stardocks track record it will improve, but for now its flawed.

In other faults there is no real oppurtunity to make a comeback. Once a side turns the tide through a couple of victories they get significant advantages making it that much more for the loseing side. As a result matches are often over long before they end.

Having no control over the spawning AI units means that your strategy has to adapt to supporting their scripted movements. Over several games this means that conquering the map devolves into 2 or 3 proven strategites leading to game repetition and predictibility. Only 7 maps also limits replayability as each strategy puzzle is solved.

Im being quite negative, but the above review didnt point these things out. The game is good, and has alot of potential. As more maps and demigods are addded and stardock sort out their systems (and i have faith they will) it will be something of a cult classic - but at the moment its an enhanced mod and not worth retail prices. A solid 7 from me.
4 years ago
Well aware of the networking situations, which I didn't run into at all in my time playing some matches. It's why it wasn't mentioned as at the time of my purchase of the game, everything was smooth for me from the get-go. I've seen some people suffer a few issues with match making but it's been a rare sighting, from my end anyway.

I could argue that there are huge opportunities for comebacks, plus to pit yourself in a situation which is nearly insurmountable is usually a fault that happens early game in terms of teamwork and overall tactics. Having played quite a few MP matches now, there have been moments where my team just didn't click in fast enough to disallow such huge advantages for the other side. Most of the time it's a difficult and gruelling process to break through either lines, especially when each team knows what they're doing and are playing with wit rather than sheer brute force.

But I believe a lot of these things come from different experiences - from the several hours I've put into the game over the past 2 weeks, I have honestly not experienced a single problem in connecting to matches and gameplay wise it's fairly balanced. There are a few minor niggles here and there with some Demigod combinations and abilities, but otherwise it's been playing smooth and most things feel clicked into place.

It's good to hear other sides of the story though, so I appreciate the comments icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
Now I want this game even more. Curse you Denny and your glowing review!

Must wait for a sale.... =)
4 years ago
Actually, emech's comments are mitigated dramatically due to the timing of this review. To coincide with the PAL release of demigod, they have been labouring hard at their server code and it is now in a state where only a fraction of people are experiencing the day 1 problems.

There are 3 fallback network systems in place if the preceding configuration doesn't work, so there really shouldn't be any network problems, particularly as we in Australia don't generally have too complex a setup (certainly don't have too many isps that block torrent data, as some countries do).

Clan matchups in Pantheon are coming soon (as emech said), but it's hardly fair to call this a beta experience. You can still organise clan matches through custom match, which is the more commonly used method of doing so in all other games. That they are building a clan system into their pantheon tournament is above and beyond what other multiplayer games have out of the box.

Plus, I rest easy at night knowing that Stardock are on top of this one, because it means we're going to see bucketloads of content patches over the next year or two, including new maps, new game types and new demigods. Yay!
4 years ago
So does anyone have any of the half-price coupons for this game? I would certainly be interested - I have some unused Steam games I can gift IIRC.

Game certainly looks like a lot of fun, thanks for the detailed review, and for the detailed posts in this thread. icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
All the reviews i had seen so far were out of the US, and as such colored by the aunch time networking problems. Buttt...assuming thats all patched up, time for me to buy a gaming PC again (currently my PC gamming beast is a netbook icon_razz.gif)
4 years ago
Lord Haart wrote
So does anyone have any of the half-price coupons for this game? I would certainly be interested
There were half price coupons? That'd make this an instant buy. How did people get said coupons?
4 years ago
PALGN wrote
set to max on a Quad Core Q6600, 4GB of RAM and 8800GTX
woh palgn has the same rig as me!

somehow thats epic...
4 years ago
grim-one wrote
There were half price coupons? That'd make this an instant buy. How did people get said coupons?
http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/forum-replies.cfm?t=1195382
4 years ago
Hmm... I don't know anyone who bought it that early =\
4 years ago
I did (and mentioned it in the bargains thread) - but my voucher hasn't arrived yet.
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  1/06/2009 (Released)
Standard Retail Price:
  $79.95 AU
Publisher:
  Namco Bandai Partners (Atari)
Genre:
  RTS
Year Made:
  2008

Read more...
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