I have a lot of love for pinball – I covered it quite extensively in my Creature from the Black Lagoon article, which may as well just have been a love letter to pinball in general. So it’ll come as no surprise – to those of you that know me or have read anything I’ve written where I’ve fanboyed massively about how much I adore pinball – that I have really enjoyed Demon’s Tilt.
As soon as I caught sight of Demon’s Tilt, I was reminded of the brilliant 90s video game Devil’s Crush (known as Devil Crash in its native Japan), which appeared first on the PC Engine (Turbografx-16 for US peeps!) and was then ported to the Mega Drive (or Genesis, to my American readers). Part of the ‘Crush’ series of pinball games, which included the preceding Alien Crush and subsequent Japan-only SNES title Jaki Crush (as well as sequel/reboot Alien Crush Returns, released in 2008 for Wii as a download-only WiiWare title).
Devil’s Crush was – along with the other games mentioned – a pinball video game that wasn’t afraid to add elements that wouldn’t be possible on a real pinball table; plus, it was absolutely drenched in thematic visuals and audio; though the pinball setting and generally realistic ball physics somewhat gave the game an air of familiarity, the multiple table setup, minigames and enemies also brought it a uniquely dark take on pinball that couldn’t be represented outside of a video game.
Upon starting Demon’s Tilt, you’re greeted with the same kind of occult imagery so familiar to those players who’ve experienced the superb Devil’s Crush. It’s a lurid, deliberately provocative design, with its bright neon stylings and pentagrams – and that’s just the menu. Going into the game we see the same OTT design, with clear nods to Devil’s Crush both in the imagery and the vertical feel of the table layout.
There’s a fantastic audiovisual experience to be had here, if you can accept the occult elements. Personally, I feel they’re no more disturbing or troubling than a Conjuring-series movie, for example; I don’t see that the visuals are offensive but I know that other players may feel differently. The occult nature of the visuals aside, there’s fantastic implementation of light and sound to give a full on, adrenaline-pumping pinball experience. It’s an excellent spiritual successor to the aforementioned Crush games, yet does stand proudly outside of their shadow.
There’s a deliberately retro feel to the synthesised voices in the game, likewise with some of the scoring display elements here too. It really is a game that oozes – perhaps bleeds – atmosphere.
One complaint I have is that it can be a little overwhelming when multiple combos, goals or targets are triggered at the same time; especially with multiball activated. However, this really isn’t any different to how real pinball feels at times, when you’re forced to try focusing on a number of different events and sequences as well as keeping your ball(s) in play.
Currently in the Steam sale, I can’t recommend Demon’s Tilt enough for pinball fans, who are spoiled for choice when it comes to simulations of real tables – but less so when it comes to OTT, audiovisual extravaganzas that feel much closer to full-on video games. Demon’s Tilt occupies a great niche in that respect; for those players already au fait with Devil’s Crush, you’ll find familiar and similarly excellent occult pinball thrills here, yet new players will also find a straight up fantastic game of pinball. Highly recommended.
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