Catacombs 1: Demon War (PC) Review

By Thom Compton 05.08.2017

Review for Catacombs 1: Demon War on PC

Catacombs 1: Demon War is a love letter to a different era of gaming than the one that most of the so called retro style titles tend to aim for. While many are content with being called the newest "Castlevania" in the lot, Catacombs 1 seems to be more interested in old school dungeon crawlers. While it's admirable to be the team trying to pay respects to a different breed of games for a change, it doesn't mean that it's destined to pull it off as well as needed, though.

Catacombs 1: Demon War is an old-school RPG through and through. Between the ability to click to move your player to the first-person style turn based battles, everything about this is clearly inspired by the bygone era of early dungeon crawlers and RPGs. This manages to be both good and bad, though. In some respects, it feels like the correct kind of outdated. The lack of an auto-save, for instance, is an interesting dilemma for those who may not remember the days when they had to make manual saves. It, at the very least, is a bit jarring if a player is used to auto-saving.

However, the reality is that Catacombs 1 is a good reminder of some of the weaker moments from that period. A good example is collision detection. This has a hard time noticing when the player is actually colliding with someone. This is largely benign, and requires the player to practically walk through someone to talk to them, or step on an opponent's toes or face to engage in battle. Over time, though, it can get somewhat annoying, but it's not a deal breaker.

Screenshot for Catacombs 1: Demon War on PC

Honestly, it's more annoying when you have the character navigate "on their own." By this, it's meant that, when the player clicks where they want the character to walk. The character will follow the quickest path to the waypoint selected by the player, even if that means walking straight into an enemy, or even walking into the door to leave the current room. Catacombs 1 is a three-chapter game, released episodically, and that's extremely fortunate.

This means the team behind it can learn lessons and apply them to future releases. This is positive because, frankly, there's potential here. It plays like the most barebones RPG imaginable, but there's something fun here that's hard to describe. One point of contrition many might have is the graphics. Now, they are noticeably unattractive, but in a weird way, they make complete sense, as they're vaguely reminiscent of old Shockwave games one might play on the PC back in the day. While the top-down graphics looks rather dated, the in-battle ones look much better, although a bit derivative. Rats look just like what someone might assume they would, for instance, and other monsters don't feel wildly creative either.

Screenshot for Catacombs 1: Demon War on PC

Gameplay-wise, players need to be on their toes, as many enemies can slay them fairly quickly. One weird design decision comes in the form of how random encounters are initiated. Early on, enemies are noticeable, and in order to fight them, you have to actually run into them. Later on, however, the game takes a more Final Fantasy-like approach, and makes enemies invisible until they are already barrelling down on the player.

Another annoyance in combat comes from breakable items. Now, breakable items are not, by themselves, a bad thing. What is bad is that there's no remedy for this. Remember how the player can't auto-save? When the player loses a weapon in battle, if they weren't aware of this mechanic, they could be forced to repeat a good section of the game over because of something that wasn't well telegraphed.

Screenshot for Catacombs 1: Demon War on PC

The worst part of the whole experience, though, is the menus. Navigating them feels like using a touch screen phone where the screen is going out. The player will have to double click on options several times to get them to open. This is just another symptom of what feels like a much larger issue - this just doesn't feel finished. The truth is, Catacombs 1: Demon War is a game that feels like it could be so much more.

There's a lot of potential here, but it's watered down by poor implementation, and what seems like some decisions that weren't final upon the games release. One should not ignore Catacombs 1: Demon Wars as the other chapters come out, but without some serious refinement, this just doesn't feel like it's going to reach its full potential.

Screenshot for Catacombs 1: Demon War on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 4 out of 10


Catacombs 1: Demon War feels as dated as many of the games it is inspired by. It also feels unpolished, and as if many of the mechanics are just being tested out. This series could be the homage to early RPGs fans of the genre have been waiting for, though, and despite the low score, this should not be considered dead in the water.


SimProse Studios


SimProse Studios


Turn Based RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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