Demon’s Mirror Preview

June 5, 2024

Demon’s Mirror is a captivating turn-based roguelike deckbuilder by Be-Rad Entertainment that takes familiar mechanics from games like Slay the Spire and adds a unique twist. I had the opportunity to review the game’s demo, which showcases the game’s innovative integration of a tile-chaining mechanic alongside traditional card gameplay, setting it apart in the crowded deckbuilder genre.

Unique Gameplay Mechanics

At its core, Demon’s Mirror retains the familiar elements of deckbuilding: you use cards to attack, defend, and manipulate the battlefield. Attack cards deal damage to enemies, while skill cards provide temporary shields, apply debuffs to your enemies, amongst other effects. The twist comes with the chain-3 board on the right side of the screen. Here, you create chains of tiles—shields, swords, essence, and willpower—each offering different benefits based on the length of the chain. Shields provide temporary defence, swords add to your attack, essence enhances certain cards, and willpower triggers powerful events.

The game offers you a choice between using the cards in your hand, chaining tiles or a combination of both, depending on your available action points.

This dual-layered strategy demands careful consideration of how to allocate your limited action points. Do you prioritize chaining tiles for immediate benefits, or do you play cards for combos with more strategic advantages? The balance between these actions adds a refreshing depth to the gameplay.

Roguelike Elements, Replayability and Challenges

Like any self-respecting roguelike, every run in Demon’s Mirror offers a new adventure. You will not only get randomised enemies (including a variety of different bosses), but the route you take to the map’s final boss will be different depending on the path you decide to take. The game’s map is filled with various nodes, each presenting different challenges or rewards. You can choose from battles with regular enemies, elite battles with tougher foes, random events, treasure troves, campfires for resting or upgrading cards, great stones for card management, money bags for collecting coins, stores for purchasing trinkets and cards, and ultimately, the final boss of the map.

The first map, showcasing all possible paths to take.

Victory in battles and elite encounters yields treasures in the form of coins and a choice of one out of three new cards for your deck, though these rewards can feel a bit luck-dependent. Early on, the difficulty curve might feel erratic. Sometimes the game feels manageable until an overpowered boss ends your run abruptly. Other times, reaching the boss itself is a herculean task. Final bosses can feel particularly challenging. These are randomly selected (though you can ask a great stone what the boss will be on that run), and each has its own set of mechanics. It took me around two to three hours to defeat the first boss, and that was partially due to prior experience with its mechanics. The learning curve is steep, but once you understand the meta and the interplay between your deck and the tile board, the game becomes less about luck and more about strategic planning.

If you find yourself stuck, remember that trinkets can play a significant role in your success, providing powerful, run-long buffs. However, their acquisition is largely random, adding another layer of unpredictability. Scrolls, which are single-use power-ups, can be crucial in tough fights as well, particularly against tough bosses.

The store, where you can purchase new cards for your deck, trinkets and scrolls.

Demo Limitations and Potential

Like most demos, the one for Demon’s Mirror has its limitations, and one area where the demo falls short is its user interface. The UI, while functional, lacks the polish and intuitiveness expected in modern games. Despite this, the game does a good job providing detailed descriptions and explanations of its various mechanics, which are crucial for newcomers to the genre. However, streamlining the UI and improving its visual clarity would greatly enhance the overall user experience, making the game more accessible and enjoyable.

In this demo, the player is restricted to just one character (Draga), but the final game promises three, each with their own unique abilities. I was also only able to explore the first map of the game, up until that level’s final boss. While every run was different, I was left wanting to try more to see how the progression of the game would work once you moved to more challenging levels.

Draga, the character that you are able to play in the Demon’s Mirror demo. A good starting point for newcomers.

This variety in characters is promising, as it should cater to different playstyles, and I look forward to seeing what the final version of the game includes. Depending on the length and depth of the final game, Demon’s Mirror could be an interesting title for fans of deckbuilders looking for something different.

The Demon’s Mirror demo was previewed on a Windows PC with a preview key provided by the publisher.