Demon’s Mirror Hands-on Preview – By the power of cards and jewels combined

Posted on June 11, 2024

Demon’s Mirror is an upcoming roguelike deckbuilding game developed by Be-Rad Entertainment and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment, and it combines deckbuilding with match-three mechanics. Set in a magical forest, Demon’s Mirror has you entering a strange and fantastical world after inadvertently stepping through an enchanted mirror. Stuck in this new realm, you’re tasked with making your way toward a mysterious castle and battling strange monsters along the way.

We recently got to check out the most recent demo build of Demon’s Mirror, which includes the first world of a run and its corresponding elite boss battle. While the final game will include three playable characters, in the demo you play as Draga, a wizard dragon in possession of a magical pendant.

For fans of well-known deckbuilding titles like Slay the Spire, Monster Train, and Wildfrost, the overall setup of Demon’s Mirror will look very familiar: every game consists of a run where you’ll be traversing a procedurally-generated map consisting of turn-based battles, random encounters, opportunities to buy items and upgrades, and moments of rest by the campfire where you can regenerate a portion of your health. In turn, each run consists of three worlds, each represented by a map with an elite boss encounter at the end. Throughout the run, you’ll have the opportunity to acquire new cards for your deck, upgrade existing ones, and gain items and trinkets. Much like relics in Slay the Spire, trinkets provide buffs that remain in play for an entire run, while items are one-off buffs that function in a similar way to potions.

In battle, a lot of aspects will look familiar as well. While your hero character will be facing off against enemies on screen, you’ll have three action points that can be spent each turn on actions like attacking, blocking, and using buff and debuff cards. What sets Demon’s Mirror apart here, however, is that in addition to cards, you’ll also have access to a match-three grid on the left side of your screen, where you can spend action points in order to connect different gem symbols. The grid features four different types of gems: attack gems, block gems, essence gems, and special gems. While attack and block pretty much do what it says on the tin, essence gems are used to make cards more powerful in battle temporarily, and special gems are used to unleash special attacks. While essence gems can be used to sap an enemy’s health over time, somewhat like the effect of poison in Slay the Spire, special gems can be used to unleash special moves once you’ve connected enough of them on the grid.

While initially, the addition of a gem grid means there is quite a lot to take in when you jump into your very first run, the game has a tutorial that does a great job of breaking down different concepts gradually for first-time players. The striking 2D art also helps make different cards stand out and light up when you’ve acquired enough essence gems or special gems to use them, and it’s only when you wrap your head around all the different moving parts that it becomes clear how the grid can truly steal the show, since the more gems you can link together, the more devastating your combos will be.

“…makes for a surprisingly thrilling ride.”

That doesn’t mean every battle is easy, however. Enemies also have the ability to add their own gems to the grid that act like little ticking time bombs. Each enemy gem comes with a high level of damage and its own number of health points. To destroy an enemy’s gem, you’ll need to damage it by making long gem chains within a number of turns. If you fail to do so, you’ll have to take the gem’s corresponding level of damage in one hit. Added to this, the game also has a wide variety of buff and debuff effects in the game. These include the self-explanatory strength, and insight, which lets you deal a small amount of damage at the start of a turn.

The variety of buffs, debuffs, and enemies, and the fact that the game’s difficulty increases fairly quickly, make for a surprisingly thrilling ride. The procedurally generated map means no two runs are the same, and you’ll have to think ahead if you want to preserve your health enough to emerge from a run victorious. Creating synergies is a huge part of mastering the art of deckbuilding in Demon’s Mirror. In order to stay one step ahead of your foes, you’ll have to use your cards effectively to manipulate the board in time. Particularly given the fact that the game features over 200 cards, with many cards designed to manipulate the gem grid, you’ll be able to strategise extensively, making a run both suspenseful and challenging.

One drawback is perhaps that the difficulty and balancing feel off at times, and given the number of mechanics and features you’ll need to keep track of, this may mean Demon’s Mirror is not a game for everyone. If you are, however, a card buff with a penchant for deep strategy and in need of a new challenge, the current demo of Demon’s Mirror is sure to scratch that itch. And while the developer has yet to confirm a final release date, they have already teased more worlds and characters to explore in the full game, too. If that sounds like it’s up your alley, Demon’s Mirror is well worth wishlisting ahead of its release.

If you’re keen to try the demo for yourself, head to Demon’s Mirror Steam store page to check it out.