Hyper Demon, an FPS with a bullet-hell Hell, is like staring point-blank into an eldritch stargate

Hyper Demon, an FPS with a bullet-hell Hell, is like staring point-blank into an eldritch stargate ...

You know what a palantir is, correct?

It's one of those creepy, indestructible crystal balls scattered across the world of Middle-earth that allows the Eye of Sauron to alter the thoughts of any hapless idiot of a Took (*cough* Pippin *cough*) unfortunate enough to steal a glance into its tangled secrets.

Playing Hyper Demon, Sorath's latest first-person shooter for Devil Daggers, is like staring into one of those, but instead of mind-melting horrors, it has rocket jumps and a leaderboard.

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Hyper Demon is not a sequel to Soraths' 2016 bullet-hell shooter, but it nonetheless represents an evolution of its core mechanics. With an aesthetic and mechanics similar to 90s arena shooters like Doom and Quake, it grew into a bona fide indie hit, earning high review scores and making its way onto a number of publications best of the year lists.

Hyper Demon has been unleashed upon the world for the first time, over six years after its predecessor's release, and it has such sights to show you. While on the surface, the two games may appear quite similar in their execution, it's only when you push yourself into the rut, time after time, that the difference between the two becomes apparent.

Although Devil Daggers was an endless FPS about keeping out for as long as possible against an array of demons, Hyper Demon is a twitch shooter about speedrunning through hell itself. With every demon slain you earn a gem, which, depending on the size of the demon, adds more time to the timer and more points to your final score.

The quicker you slay your opponents, the faster they spawn; the harder the game gets; the more difficult the game becomes; but if the timer falls below 0, you die and have to start over again. Its a different kind of intensity than Devil Daggers, one that forces you to pay attention to not only the enormous number of monsters in front of you but also its existence or death.

Hyper Demon may appear like a straightforward twitch-based FPS, but the breadth of abilities that results from these humble elements is astounding. As you mow down the writhing insects of this particular circle of hell, you shift between quick-fire stream and short-range shotgun clusters.

The gameplay is as fast and violent as Devil Daggers, but the gameplay is more manageable from moment to moment.

The rest of the game is irrelevant in the face of Hyper Demon's most distinguishing feature: the visuals. As the action on screen escalates, the game's presentation steadily transforms into a stroboscopic, fisheye-lens perspective, bending the corners of the screen into a 180-degree sphere. The effect is nothing short of hallucinatory; a eldritch equivalent of the stargate sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Every successful kill, every second won, and every well-timed dodge and dash, pinpricks of light trail and bend sideways across the screen, as if Im barely a hair's breadth shy of being sucked past the event horizon. But thats not even mentioning the game's final boss encounter.

Hyper Demon, though it is owed to Devil Daggers' bones and essentials, looks and plays like nothing else Ive ever seen in 2022. In a year without any shortage of twitch shooters like Neon White and Metal: Hellsinger, Hyper Demon reigns supreme as a bullet-hell shooter par excellence.