Demonschool's movement-based demon battles are shaping up to be the most interesting turn-based combats of 2024

The heroes running from a giant demon monster in Demonschool.
(Image credit: Necrosoft Games)

I've had a careful eye on Demonschool ever since it was first announced at the PC Gaming Show in 2022. Combining a style inspired by the Persona games with unique turn-based tactics and truly striking 2D-meets-3D visuals, it's a project with fantastic potential. How appropriate that we'd get to find out more with another reveal at this year's PC Gaming Show

The new trailer we showed off offers a welcome dive into how the game's battles actually work. Your team of misfit university students stands ready to fight off a demon invasion, but they can't actually attack directly. Instead, you use movement to your advantage. 

Each character can only move in a straight line forward, or sidestep—"like if you combined a king and a knight in chess," say the devs. Your damage-dealers can hurt demons by touching them, so they just have to charge into them. Support characters are a little less direct, however—one of them instead stuns and swaps places with any enemy they touch, and can pull enemies towards her. 

The result is reminiscent of Into the Breach, rewarding clever combinations of moves that set enemies up for devastating final blows. And like Into the Breach, you're never lacking in information. You set up all these moves in the planning phase, where you're free to undo them any time you like while you experiment with different possible approaches. 

Once you're happy you've found the most devastating possible assault on the forces of Hell, you can lock them in and head into the action phase, where you get to see all your hard thinking rewarded as your commands play out with flashy and attractive animation. It's the kind of structure designed to make you feel like an absolute tactical genius, no matter how long you agonised over killing a mob of imps.

What's particularly tantalising is imagining how that all works in the game's boss fights. We haven't had much detail on these yet, but trailers have shown off what these demon leaders look like, and they're really spectacular. Animated in a 3D style reminiscent of older console graphics, while your team zips around as 2D pixel art, they dominate the screen with their sheer bulk and crash down on the battlefield with explosive attacks. I need to know how you fight these beautiful monstrosities and I need to know it now. 

As revealed at the show, the game's aiming for a summer 2024 release at this stage. With a Persona-style life sim element and 15 playable characters to meet, bring into your party, and build your relationship with, it looks like there's plenty to do outside of fights too—but more than anything I'm buzzing to just get in there and mess about with what promises to be one of next year's most innovative and interesting combat systems. 

Robin Valentine
Senior Editor

Formerly the editor of PC Gamer magazine (and the dearly departed GamesMaster), Robin combines years of experience in games journalism with a lifelong love of PC gaming. First hypnotised by the light of the monitor as he muddled through Simon the Sorcerer on his uncle’s machine, he’s been a devotee ever since, devouring any RPG or strategy game to stumble into his path. Now he's channelling that devotion into filling this lovely website with features, news, reviews, and all of his hottest takes.