Gas Powered Games and Chris Taylor are probably best known for Dungeon Siege and Supreme Commander. Both of these big franchises are still under active development with sequels on the way but Gas Powered Games is more than just a sequel-factory. This time they have partnered with Stardock with a multiplayer-oriented action/RTS hybrid, Demigod.
Demigod is probably best described as a game based on the concept first seen as Warcraft 2181 III custom map Defense of the Ancients (DotA). The idea is to do away with most of the staple RTS concepts - Demigod has no base building, no unit manufacturing and the armies are mostly a side dish - the main thing is the control of individual Hero units battling each other for the control of the map. Okay, you still do upgrade the main base on your side and both sides get a constant supply of AI-controlled cannon fodder running around the battlefield, engaging hostile units and fixed defenses. Some game modes also add flags to be captured for battlefield-wide bonuses and additional buildings, including portals for extra cannon fodder and gold mines for additional funds.
Some hero characters also have supporting units fighting alongside. At launch the game includes eight different demigods split into two categories. Four of these are "generals" that can summon a handful of supporting units and purchase abilities that boost these units while the other set of four consists of "assassin" demigods that work alone. Each individual Demigod has his own abilities and while there are "just" eight different playable heroes, they all have very unique set of perks and abilities while staying surprisingly well balanced. There are always the usual "nerf this, that demigod is overpowered" talk going on in the official forums, but overall I think Demigod is surprisingly well balanced. In a way each demigod is overpowered in it's own niche and there are no obvious major balance blunders. Well, Queen of Thorns feels a bit weak but it balances out the ability to spam a strong damage shield to outlast the opposition.
Single Player = Bots
Battles include 4-10 Demigods (from 2vs2 up to 5vs5) and are set on a number of maps that all share some common features; they are all flat surfaces with a number of fixed defenses and routes to the central citadel situated at each end of the field. Think divine sporting arenas of sorts where demigods duke it out. The winner is determined either by controlling the flags around the field, killing a number of opposing demigods or by destroying the opposing citadel, depending on the game type.
There are only two single player modes - a skirmish game with AI bots filling up the rest of the field and a single player tournament of sorts where you play a number of matches with AI and total up the score based on your performance. AI opposition is universally weak. The easy mode is theoretically winnable even if you fumble around like a headless chicken, normal gives only a token opposition and even hard AI offers little challenge once you figure out the gameplay. Suitable for learning how to use each Demigod, but offering almost zero long term fun. You can bump up the difficulty all the way to Nightmare, but the main effect is that the AI players get to "cheat" with substantial bonuses which does nothing to fix how the AI plays.
So, for those who wish to play alone should look elsewhere. Demigod is almost completely aimed for online multiplayer matches and it uses Stardock's Steam-like service, Impulse, for community features and matchmaking. The single player modes work for testing out strategies but the only way to really play Demigod is online in multiplayer skirmish, custom matches or tournament play.
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