Mahluk: Dark Demon Switch

Sometimes it’s hard to pull the trigger on a video game purchase. There are so many games releasing on the daily that it can be tough to pick out the hidden gems. These days, even a $10 purchase might turn out to be a waste of money if a game doesn’t deliver a worthwhile experience.

But when I saw Mahluk: Dark Demon on the Nintendo Switch eShop on sale for $1.99, I figured I might as well drop the two bucks for it and check it out. After all, that’s less than a cup of coffee these days.

Mahluk: Dark Demon, originally released on PC in 2016 and made available for other platforms much more recently, is an action-platformer that blends tight jumps with hack-and-slash gameplay. The combat is mostly okay. Enemies sort of just walk back and forth, and they’ll try to attack you if you get too close. All it takes are a few well-placed strikes on your end to get rid of those pesky baddies. Along the way you’ll find power-ups like fireballs and ice projectiles, which you can use to attack from a distance.

Mahluk: Dark Demon Gameplay

For the most part, the basic enemies encounters in Mahluk: Dark Demon are, well, really freakin’ basic. They hardly stand out, and they’re too simple to give you the arcade beat-’em-up or hack-and-slash high you’d get from games like Streets of Rage 4 or Death’s Door. Boss battles are more interesting, requiring you to play carefully and strike when you’re able to. Unfortunately, there are only a few of these, and they’re over pretty quickly.

On the other hand, the precision platforming in Mahluk: Dark Demon is superior to the combat. It’s not exactly riveting, but it works well enough and there are plenty of tricky jumps around moving obstacles or spike traps that make it exciting some of the time. I almost wish the game were completely devoid of combat in favor of more platforming gameplay, because what’s here mostly works and could potentially be great had there been a little more thought put into the run-and-jump parts.

Mahluk: Dark Demon Fly Boss

Overall, the gameplay in Mahluk: Dark Demon is pretty average — underwhelming, even. For $2, I don’t exactly feel ripped off, but I would be much less indifferent and much more flabbergasted if I’d spent the full $10 asking price.

Now, before we write off the game completely, there is one aspect of it that I’m quite keen on: the visual direction. The game’s dark and moody pixel art is a little simple, but that simplicity works really well. It’s awesome when games can transport you to other worlds and make you feel like you’re a living inhabitant in said worlds, and Mahluk: Dark Demon kind of does that pretty well with its dismal, underworld-esque landscapes.

Mahluk: Dark Demon Platforming Gameplay

The presentation as a whole suffers a tiny bit due to the overly simplistic music and sound effects. And there could’ve been a bit more enemy variety. Even then, though, the dark grays and somber tones of Mahluk: Dark Demon give the game a somewhat of a 2D quasi-Soulslike vibe at times.

So ultimately, is Mahluk: Dark Demon worth a bargain bin buy? Well, for two bucks, you could certainly do a lot worse. Keep in mind, though, that the combat here is just whatevs, while the platforming is okay but suffers from a lack of depth. The dark and dreary pixel art, though, is really cool and kind of makes it worth the price of admission — but only if that admission is discounted. So I’d say, sure, if you can get Mahluk: Dark Demon for less than $3, you might want to consider maybe going for it.

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