I’m not sure if I can really say I’ve never played this before. You see, the first level came on a magazine covertape and I definitely played that. I never bought the game though, so I was interested to see exactly what I’d missed beyond level 1.
I’m not convinced it was all that much.
I will give the game its dues, though. As an alternative to Shadow of the Beast, it obviously provided a viable technical experience. Graphically, it’s really quite impressive. Large sprites move smoothly across beautiful backdrops, with those that scroll containing many layers of parallax effects. There are a few glitches, but by and large the effect is very impressive. It sounds good too, with some very nice David Whittaker music jollying things along in fine style.
The game, though…
The scrolling levels, when you boil them down, are nothing more than beautiful-looking reaction tests. Whether you’re on horseback or on foot, things come towards you and you must either duck, jump or punch at the appropriate time. Get it wrong and you’ll take damage, take too much damage and it’s back to the start for you, my lad.
There are fighting levels too, but these are also very simplistic. In fact, you only have three attacking moves at your disposal so it’s just as well your opponents aren’t the sharpest tools in the box. Should you happen to find yourself struggling, you have a few basic spells at your fingertips which should help you to see off your foes before too long.
Even if you do happen to find any of the levels more taxing than you’d like, it hardly matters as you can replay them as much as you like until you get sick of your life and turn it off. It’s a shame really, because if there had been more variety or a few more interesting things to do, then Wrath of the Demon may well have been something of a classic. As it is, it’s nothing more than an artistic delight that you’ll play through once just so you can see everything, then never touch again.