The premise is simple: four human players run around the map and collect various body parts to try and complete a satanic ritual, while a fifth player attempts to hunt them down as a demon.
Trust No One
One small twist Daemonical adds to the asymmetric horror formula is a greater element of uncertainty – the players don’t know which one of them is the demon. At the beginning of each round, all players are human and have the same goal. But once the sun goes down, one random player becomes the demon.
The demon can choose when to transform, meaning he can play along like everything’s fine, and turn on the group when they least expect it.
In the current Early Access version of the game, this is the single most terrifying thing in the game. When the demon is exposed you kind of know what to expect, but before that happens – everyone’s a suspect. You need to choose whether to stick together with other players and hope none of them is the demon, or run off alone and potentially be an easier target.
Complete the Ritual
Once the demon is out of the bag, so to speak, gameplay settles into a more familiar formula.
As one of the humans, you have two options to win/survive: you either find a place to hide for the duration of the match or help the others to complete a banishment ritual.
The first option, while viable, isn’t a very good one. The demon can sense the general location of other players, so if you stay put it will eventually find you. Exploring, picking up items and working together to perform the ritual is your best bet.
The ritual is pretty simple – all you have to do is collect several body parts hidden around the map, bring them to an altar and assemble the body of the demon’s original host. Once the final piece is in place, the demon is banished, and everyone gets to live.
To find the missing pieces, all you need to do is follow your hand. All human characters have, for reasons not explained in-game yet, a glowing scar on the palm of their hand. Probably to mark they’ve been touched by evil or something. The scar glows more brightly whenever you are facing the right direction, and starts to blink when you’re close to one of the body parts.
At first, it seems like it’s making things much too easy, but the maps are big and disorienting, and it’s easy to get lost. Having something to guide you in the right direction helps give you a sense of purpose. The altar where you need to perform the ritual at can also be seen from afar, thanks to a thin column of red smoke above it.
Hunt Them All Down
While the humans are running around in panic, the demon player has one simple task – kill them all. You do it by running up to a human, grabbing them, and biting their face off. Well, not literally, but that what it looks and sounds like you’re doing.
As the demon, you play in third-person and become much faster, can jump higher and break down doors with ease. You also have “demon-vision” which is a sort of infrared vision that lets you see better in the dark (and boy is Daemonical a dark game).
To tell you the truth, playing as the demon isn’t as exciting as playing one of the humans because it feels a little too easy. Sure, other players can pick up handguns and use them to stun you, but you move so fast they will most certainly miss if they ever get the chance to fire.
The demon does have a few limitations – it can’t get too close to the altar, so that’s a safe space, and it can’t see where the ritual parts are, although it can sure stumble on them and set an ambush.
Other than that, the demon just runs around, looking for humans to kill. There’s no nuance involved.
Death Isn’t the End
Since there’s a good possibility the demon will get you, Daemonical gives players a second chance at life.
Once you’re dead, you’re transformed into a glowing, floating orb of light. Only other humans can see you in this state, and you can use that to your advantage. You can try and lead other players to your body so they can revive you, although in my experience no one wants to flow a weird glowing ball. You can also follow the demon around and sort of mark its location for all other players to see.
It’s a nice touch that gives those who died early in the match something to do except wait. The option to get back into the game after you de is also welcome, though on one ever revived me once. People were too nervous, I guess, which is a good sign for a horror game in Early Access.
Dark and Empty
As I mentioned, Daemonical is a very dark game; too dark. While the demon can see in the dark, human players are almost blind. You do have a flashlight which helps a bit, but you can’t use it if you carry a gun. Once you pick up a ritual body part, the screen becomes even muddier and slightly distorted, so forget about noticing any demons in your vicinity.
There’s also not a lot to do in Daemonical. You can enter cabins and look for items, but there isn’t a lot to find. Right now the game feels empty, but that’s understandable for an alpha version.
Speaking of empty, the game was recently available to play for free on Steam for a whole weekend, but ever since that weekend ended, I can’t find anyone to play with. There is literally no one playing at the moment.
Daemonical is currently available on Steam Early Access, and we’re talking about early Early Access. The game still needs a lot more polish and content before it can be something that’s actually fun to play and stream. However, it does show promise even at this stage.
Unless you’re a hardcore horror fan with a soft spot for demonic possession, I’d recommend you wait for now, mostly because there is barely anyone to play with. Add the game to your wishlist and keep following its progress – developer Fearem is updating the game on a regular basis, and I have no doubt it will soon transform into something truly diabolical.
If you want to help Daemonical get there sooner, you can join the game’s Discord server and share your ideas and feedback.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.