Giant Bomb Review

19 Comments

Demigod Review

3
  • PC

This competitive-only strategy action game has some good ideas that are hindered by its laggy, inconsistent online play.

The back-and-forth action is fast-paced and fairly exciting.
Demigod is a game with some good ideas. Most of those ideas are taken from Defense of the Ancients, the free Warcraft III mod whose gameplay blueprint Demigod lifts almost entirely. But this is the video game industry; if we condemned every game that was a lot like other good games, we'd never play anything new. This strategy action title adds a few minor, interesting ideas to the DOTA formula, but unfortunate technical issues with the online multiplayer keep it from being as enjoyable as it would be if it played smoothly.

Like DOTA, Demigod looks like a real-time strategy game, though apart from the overhead camera angle, it only shares a few similarities with that genre. It's a team-based game where players on each side choose one of eight heroes, each with unique strengths and special abilities, and then fight it out with each other on a symmetrical map while attempting to bust through the opposition's defenses and smash up its base. All the while, AI-controlled fodder units are spawning in your base and running preset paths across the map, where they battle with identical enemy fodder.

In short, the general flow of the game has you and your teammates leveling up by fighting the smaller troops, unlocking new abilities and buying upgrade items, and getting into quick, intense fights with the other team's player-controlled heroes. Even the strongest hero characters can die pretty quickly, so death is a constant threat and you have to be quick on your abilities and movements to stay alive and keep leveling up as fast as your opponents are.

Developer Gas Powered Games expands on the general DOTA framework in a few neat ways. All of the game's maps have flags strewn across them that confer bonuses when you capture them like extra experience, shorter ability cooldown times, or increased armor for your fodder troops. So there's some incentive in covering the map evenly to keep as many of these flags in your possession as possible. And in addition to individual items you can buy with the gold you earn, you can also purchase team upgrades that do things like hasten your leveling speed, reduce the timeout death penalty, and add stronger units to your fodder troop waves. I wish you could purchase these team upgrades with some kind of collective currency instead of your own personal gold, though. Very few players I met online were willing to spend their gold to help out the team, and when I blew all my money on those upgrades, I rarely had any left over to buff up my own hero.

There are a lot of items and abilities to tweak out your hero with.
There are only eight heroes here compared to the dozens in DOTA, but at least there's some decent variety among them. Four of them are assassins--direct damage-dealers with stronger, targeted attacks--and the other four are generals--heroes who can spawn a variety of additional weak minions into the fray. The different heroes collectively cover all the bases of ranged and melee attacks, damage-per-second machines, tanks, healers, support classes... If all this sounds a lot like World of Warcraft, it should. This sort of game is a little like an MMO in microcosm, since you level up every couple of minutes instead of every couple of days. But the pursuit of better powers and items has the same carrot-on-a-stick feel to it.

Most of the characters are pretty standard fantasy-shlock fare; there's a knight, a foul beast, a girl riding a big cat, a wizard, a scantily clad demon chick, and so on. Nothing too exciting from a design standpoint. But I have to give a shout out to whoever designed my homeboy the Rook, who is none other than a gigantic lumbering castle. His abilities are just as extreme as his stature--he can do things like add archers and turrets onto his shoulders, and suck up enemy buildings brick by brick to simultaneously destroy them and regain his own health. I wish all the characters were that ridiculous and awesome.

Demigod is literally all about competitive action. There's no single-player campaign to speak of; you can only play one-off skirmish matches or a ranked tournament series against the AI. Online, you can do skirmishes of up to five against five players and a more structured, elaborate tournament called the Pantheon. Squaring off against AI bots is fun enough while you're still learning the game, but you can only play against the computer for so long before you'll want to go online and find a real challenge.

DUDE THAT CASTLE IS WALKING WHAT THE HELLS
That lack of a more involved story-driven offline component really hurts Demigod, since so far the online play has been wildly inconsistent. Publisher Stardock overcame the initial problems with the game's early retail release that were literally preventing anyone from playing the game, but even a week after the official release date, getting into a game that's free of laggy stuttering is a dicey proposition. Even getting into the pre-game lobby can take way too long, leaving you staring at a "Connecting" window for a couple of minutes, only to be disconnected from a "NAT facilitator" or other arcane error message.

Moreover, the smoothness of the online gameplay seems to depend on the quality of every player's connection. If one person has a high ping or starts lagging badly, it bogs down the match for everyone involved. I experienced this game-wide lag in a number of online matches, and trust me, the other players were not shy about voicing their mutual displeasure. At its least, it's a mild annoyance, but at its worst, it turns the game into an unplayable slide show. To be fair, I got into some lobbies in a matter of seconds, and had some games that ran smoothly and were quite playable, but those instances were in the minority. It's a shame you have to work so hard to find good matches.

Demigod can be a lot of fun online when it works right, when the gameplay is smooth and you're working with your teammates efficiently to buff up your defenses, take the right flags, and chase down and slaughter the enemy heroes with a one-two punch of special abilities. It's just a shame that experience is so hard to come by right now. When--or if--Stardock and Gas Powered get all these issues fully ironed out, Demigod will be easier to recommend, but for now you should be aware of exactly what you're getting into.

19 Comments
Posted by Thordain

was really looking forward to this, gonna see if there are some better HAGs around.

Online
Posted by RHCPfan24

I must say I didn't know much about this, so I don't know what to think really.

Posted by Coltonio7

I was very ready to pick this up. If I can barely play online then why bother!?

Posted by zityz

i have it, I'm enjoying it, I myself havent had any connection problems but ive played with people that have, theyre just replaced with AI.

My only main complaint about it is the shared currency I agree, you either get someone who upgrades the citidel which leaves you nothing for yourself or you upgrade yourself leaving your citidel more suseptable.

There are a Lot of achievements in the game if your into that kinda thing, it is a games for windows but i dunno if it works with windows live.

Overall, I'm enjoying it myself. I agree The Rook is an awesome character but I really enjoy playing Oak myself.

Posted by addictedtopinescent

I'm picking it up anyway, 

I was waiting for this game for a long time, since I saw it back in october, the walking castle what the hells thing is what makes me buy it, I'm sure the online will improve.
Posted by DukeEdwardI
Demigod has had some problems but I have faith that Stardock/Gas Powered Games will fix them.  Brad Wardell (aka Frogboy & CEO of Stardock) regularly posts updates over at Impulsedriven.com and has said the online issues should be sorted out by the end of this week and then they will start focusing on bug/glitch fixing, balancing and looking into ideas for content releases (they have budgeted in a year of free content such as more demigods, maps, etc.).

This is the most recent post regarding Demigod and the issues surrounding it's launch: 
Posted by Cynic04

This is really disappointing, I was always curious about DoTA and seeing Gas Powered Games making a clone had me pretty excited.  But with all the problems I'll wait and see how the support is before I purchase this one, espcially with League of Legends on the horizion. 

In regards to players not wanting to spend their own gold on team upgrades, it's just a slight modification of the classic prisoners dilemma, meaning if each player makes the correct rationial choice in trying to maximize their individual gains, they actually end up hurting themselves.  Poor game design decision imo.

Edited by MrKlorox

I don't think there's much more that can be said to sway me. I used to be interested in the idea of this game, but it seems the execution isn't what I would have preferred. I guess I should reinstall warcraft 3 and see what the hype is about.

Posted by Lifestrike

That's a good review.

The game is very fun to play, and all the problems it is suffering from right now can be righted given time.

GPG also plans to add two additional demigods in the next few months.

Posted by dagas

I can't stand the fact that every game has to have a new genre name these days. Stylish Action Game was kind of cool in a stupid kind of way when DMC came, but now every game has to come up with something new. What's wrong with RPG, RTS, Adventure etc. a genre is not a genre if it's not broad.

wiki entry on HAG "A hag is a wizened old woman, or a kind of fairy or goddess having the appearance of such a woman, often found in folklore and children's tales such as ..." calling a genre HAG is so....ah whatever...

Posted by ahoodedfigure

So the AI isn't so hot? 

The Rook is a major feature of the game, but is it only on one faction's side?

Posted by FuzzYLemoN

Never liked DotA, so I don't see myself ever playing this. The fact that it's a clone of a damn custom map from WC3 with no singleplayer campaign is pretty insulting as well.

Edited by Destroyeron

Easy "no" to this one for me, DOTA sucks; and why would you pay for something comparatively worse to DOTA when you could buy Warcraft 3 instead?

Posted by InsanePotato

They patched the nat issue. Logging in is back to being fast again. I've played 7 games so far and none were laggy, though it took a while to matchmake. It's a really good game and anyone who says its just Dota hasn't actually played it. It's similar but not a replica. It certainly shares the same new genre and that's something to get behind. I'm sad to see people reviewing it poorly when there are kinks in a release,,, kinks largely brought on by an overwhelming piracy of the game. Heck little big planet was unplayable for over a week and it's main draw was sharing content online and it's still 5 stars. My suggestion to Brad is rereview in a month.

Posted by Death_Burnout

Y'know? im glad this doesn't have a campaign, i hate RTS campaigns, unless it's like DoW II, all i need is skirmish, that's it. I don't want to play "missions" with RTS gameplay.

Posted by Media_Master

Castle Looking Dude looks rad!

Edited by AspiringAndy

Decent review.
So, if there the online was lag free, would this game be 4 stars?

Because, in my opinion, the rocky start that this game seems to have inflicted a lot of negetive feedback towards the game. Which I think is kind of unfair, especially because Stardock published this and they have the ideaology that software to counteract piracy is not needed, but then they get one hundred thousand pirates clogging up the servers and therefore formed quite a few negetive reviews.
What InsanePotato suggests about re-reviewing sounds good, or even just announcing that this game would be 4 stars if it wasnt for the dodgy release.

Posted by pause422

I'm gonna check it out I think. From what I've heard, it can be pretty damn fun, but in all honestly DOTA still seems superior. Everyone would probably have no problem with Demigod instead of DOTA though since the upgrade visuals are enough for some people.

Posted by Sandwizzle

I love this game... on lan.  If you live with or near gamers I highly recommend this game since it is a lot of fun to play when you aren't lagging all over the place.  I hope they fix multiplayer otherwise the game is just an exercise in patience.  The demigods play differently and can have good synergy so every game is unique despite there only being eight characters and a handful of maps.  Also you feel like a badass every time you smash someone with your three story war hammer or when you tear down a huge walking castle.  The action moves quickly and requires a lot of skill to maximize your leveling and damage while still capturing flags and upgrading your base.  In short, there is as much depth and fun as there is lag in online play.  If stardock fixes this Demigod will be awesome.