Demon's Tilt, developed by WIZNWAR and published by FLARB, is one of the finest digital Pinball games in recent years. Whereas most pinball videos games try to simulate the feel and physics of playing on a real table, Demon’s Tilt fully embraces the creative freedoms from being a game rather than a table simulation. The end result is a mesmerizing experience with beautiful pixel art, a surprisingly catchy soundtrack, and addictive pinball action.
What Demon’s Tilt has above the majority of pinball games is that it knows it can’t replicate the feel of a real pinball table, so it throws realism out the window and goes all-out with its fantasy aesthetic. The table is divided into three different tiers, each defined by their central bosses; the manticore, the cyborg-cultist, and the wizard hermit. Not only is the main table massive, but the bosses change phases and new challenges are implemented to keep the game feeling fresh during long play sessions. On top of the sprawling main table are extra mini tables that can be played as bonus rounds during the main game. The downside to this is that the bonus tables can only be played during the main game, and are not selectable on their own; an extra game mode where the bonus tables can be selected on their own would have improved on the replay value. A massive main table with dynamic parts, as well as numerous bonus tables, keeps the game feeling fresh.
The “Tilt” in Demon’s Tilt references the game’s main mechanic, tilting—a staple of pinball games. Whereas most pinball games punish the player for even thinking about tilting, Demon’s Tilt fully embraces it and forces the player to master its tilt mechanics in order to rack scores as big as your phone number. Bosses will launch the ball towards the gutter, shoot projectiles that kill your momentum, or set up precise aiming challenges that require liberal use of tilting. Even with nearly infinite tilting at your disposal, the game will still kick your ass in ways that may even feel unfair—nothing is more soul crushing then having the boss launch your ball straight to the gutter without even a hope of saving it—but its addictive design and rewarding challenges always brings me back.
Demon Tilt utilizes a pixel art design to give the game a timeless look while also harking back to classic digital pinball games like Jaki Crush and Alien Crush. The table’s dark color palette is complemented with splashes of lime-green and bright purples to really hammer home that mystical eldritch tone. Having the main boss front and center of each tier, showing off their incredible detail, leaves very little dead-space on the table making it all feel hectic, and at sometimes overwhelming. Despite the countless moving parts, the game runs very smoothly, with camera options allowing for closeup or far shots depending on the player's preference, and multiple background music tracks to help keep the game from feeling repetitive.
Having the bonus, mini-tables only be playable through the main game is a bit of a letdown, but also knowing how to reach said bonuses can be confusing. The game’s own “guide” on how to play is incredibly limited and should be more in depth—most players will either rely on trial and error or fan made guides to really know the ins and outs of the mechanics. The game is also no stranger to the odd bug, the ball sometimes going out of bounds only to end up back at the launcher, a couple menu errors here and there, but never have I experienced anything game-breaking.
Demon's Tilt's unique personality and addictive gameplay is guaranteed to keep pinball fans hooked. The expansive main table alone is a blast to play, with the mini-tables offering enjoyable breaks the repetition, but I do wish these bonus tables were playable on their own. The lax in-game instructions can only get you so far, so you will need a fanmade guide to really make the most of those high-scores. A beautifully designed game that runs like a dream and keeps me coming back for more. Demon's Tilt is a nearly perfect fantasy pinball experience that prioritizes fun over realism. Demon's Tilt is available now on Steam, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.