Persona and Shin Megami Tensei fans will find Demonschool to their liking, as it strikes a perfect balance between slaying demons and school life.
Necrosoft Games, the California-based indie studio behind Oh, Deer! and Gunhouse, recently announced its upcoming tactical RPG named Demonschool. Set to release for PC, Steam Deck and other platforms in 2023, the title masterfully combines 2D sprites against a 3D environment in an isometric view. While Demonschool has a lot to offer in terms of innovation, fans of the genre are likely to notice a boatload of similarities to Persona and Shin Megami Tensei, which effectively make the game a perfect mixture of Atlus’ two iconic franchises.
By and large, Demonschool is not afraid to wear its influences on its sleeve. Although the Nintendo DS classic Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor played a larger role in the game’s creation than Persona, Necrosoft also drew inspiration from Valkyria Chronicles for its battle system and Yakuza for the passage of time. The title’s mood is based on vintage Italian horror, whereas avatar artwork pays homage to Suehiro Maruo, one of the most prominent manga and horror artist figures to date.
The game follows the story of Faye, the last remaining heir to a lineage of demon hunters. As a freshman at a so-called university for young adults with colorful backgrounds, she is quickly joined by three other misfit students as they embark on a journey of self-discovery on a mysterious island. While the premise might seem marginally reminiscent of Danganronpa, Demonschool tackles its narrative in a different manner.
Described as a new-style tactics RPG where motion equals action, Necrosoft’s upcoming title works outside previously agreed-upon standards. To minimize the time spent planning out the character’s modus operandi during consecutive terms, Demonschool removes the need to select every possible or probable action. Instead, the character advances in the direction players choose, intuitively reacting to whatever lies in their path. These contextual interactions mean that objects will be moved, enemies will be struck, or the character might simply dash past. All movements are executed in one go, and players can buff friendlies and debuff enemies, which compounds damage output and lets players create devastating combos that ultimately trigger unique elemental attacks.
Like most traditional strategy-driven entries, Demonschool allows players to rewind any action during the planning phase to maximize the character’s efficiency. The smooth tactical experience the battle system offers also ensures that players always stay in the know regarding the damage they deal and the upcoming movement of their enemies. While these newly introduced improvements might make the game appear as if it’s easy to breeze through, it retains the challenging aspects and signature genre difficulty in practice.
Since Demonschool stays true to its name by including social aspects, the entirety of the game takes place over one school semester, during which players must navigate university life along with other extracurricular activities. While planning the school schedule and choosing what to study will level Faye’s teammates and bolster their skills, fostering friendships with 15 characters and pursuing a romantic relationship can affect the ending players get upon campaign completion.
Exploring the island across a weekly schedule will reveal new mysteries, allowing players to progress further into the story. Though certain events move time forward every day, Faye will have enough room to partake in other side quests and mini-games at her leisure. As no university life would be complete without a place to wind down every so often, players will have access to a Clubhouse, where they can display the collected furniture sets and watch the main cast’s interactions change.
To make the vision for Demonschool plausible, Necrosoft devised its own constraints, abiding by strict visual and hardware rules. The developer conceptualized a fictional game console with hardware limits that could only handle so much, leading to the refreshing delivery and design behind the team’s first tactical RPG. Building on the game’s horror setting is its soundtrack, which complements Demonschool‘s distinct atmosphere. Until more details surrounding the title’s release surface, fans of the intertwining genres can rest assured that Necrosoft has their insatiable hunger for otherworldly school experiences covered to a T.
Constantine Morgus is a Game and Narrative Designer by trade. He has also worked as a Content Writer and Ghostwriter in the past. Since Constantine is multilingual, he spouts (lyrical) nonsense more often than he would like to admit. Strangely enough, none of it is reflected in his Games Features… or so he would like to believe!