Daemon Summoner is a 2005 game developed by Atomic Planet Entertainment and published by Midas Interactive Entertainment and it is a strong contender for the worst game on the Playstation 2. This review is probably better described as a rant than a review, because it is literally a rant I posted to my discord server after playing the first level. I have not, at this time, gotten further than the beginning of that second level for reasons that are explained further on. I have no plans to go further but I could probably milk another rant out of it so I might do it the next time I have the money to get completely wasted.
Midas Interactive Entertainment is a budget publisher currently based in Essex, England. Many of their games are bought at a low price from Japanese developers and localized for a cheap release, often only in PAL regions. So their games may be unfamiliar to US readers. They got their start in publishing with their 1999 Pocket Price Games label, and 2 in 1 and All in One Packs. They stopped releasing any new games in 2012, instead focusing on re-releases on the Playstation Network.
Atomic Planet Entertainment was a development studio founded in 2000 by former Acclaim Teesside developers. Defunct as of 2009, their first title was a mobile phone port of Dino Island (aka Dino Tycoon). They’re most notable for developing the PS2 version of The Guy Game, a game which contained child pornography.
This concludes the informational part of this post, and now we go into a slightly edited version of the rant I posted originally.
The game opens with a long, badly narrated and unskippable cutscene about vampires I think. You’re then treated to a seizure inducing menu with a small loop of extremely generic ‘dramatic’ music playing. This was likely something purchased for cheap. According to some sources this music was just stolen from Painkiller, though I can’t confirm this. The credits lack any credits for music related positions, and the voice actor for the main character is also one of the character animators.
It has terrible performance with constant fps drops, despite looking like a Playstation 1 game at a higher resolution. The first level is a catacomb level where you walk through dimly lit tunnels while zombies sometimes move toward you and groan slightly, a sound effect that they stole from DOOM, but you can just run through them because they don’t have collision and killing them is slow and difficult because you have one weapon that fires once before having to reload and you melee only works maybe 10% of the time, it has a kinda neat system of locational damage so you can shoot limbs off but it’s poorly implemented with only upper body damage causing the head to pop (which doesn’t kill them or stop them chasing you) and lower body damage causing a leg to drop off which stops them from moving so you can just keep going and ignore them so the end result is doing the entire thing looking down so you don’t have to aim. The aiming feels terrible and has massive analog stick deadzone so precise movement is next to impossible. The control scheme is terrible and makes no sense, it frequently drops inputs too. Which is cool, and good. Near the end of the level you’re treated to the game’s second enemy, dudes in robes. These dudes in robes do the same thing as the zombies but slightly faster. Either their hitboxes are broken or the gun is because if they’re right in front of you your shots will just do nothing. I assume this might be a case of the bullet spawning slightly in front of you instead of on the crossbow, so technically the bullet is behind them and won’t hit. Since they’re attack pattern is basically just ‘Run at and hit’ this makes the hardest part of this getting far enough away from them to be able to shoot them since they run at the same speed. If you’re curious on how to do this for whatever reason, you wait for them to start to attack since they’re so incredibly basic that they can’t attack and move at the same time. You then fight the level’s boss, Emily. According to the back of the box one of this games features is “Unravel the compelling and mysterious story-line and discover the truth behind Emily’s disappearance” but you spend the entire level chasing her and then fight her at the end. It takes three shots to the head while backpeddling and since she also can’t attack while moving you do this in complete safety. Then she escapes, so you chase her to the next level. Or don’t. I actually recommend you don’t. This is easier than the dudes in robes because your shots actually connect with her.
How this got a release on an actual disc(Compact disc, in fact) in 2005 is beyond my understanding, oh, and since I can’t fit this anywhere else that makes sense, it comes with a whopping 4 page long instruction booklet and the cheapest case design I’ve ever seen. Everything about it is cheap and wrong, even the rating appears to be some kind of knockoff, using a different design to the normal Australian ratings labels, lacking the border and using the wrong text size. This game came out the same year as FEAR, Star Wars Republic Commando, Spiderman 2, TimeSplitters, Lego Star Wars, GTA San Andreas and Shadow of the Colossus for fucks sake and someone thought ‘hey let’s add to this line up of great games with this pile of fuck’.
The second level is a stealth level and it’s where I stopped, it opens with a narration that if you skip just keeps playing over the next cutscene which shows some vampires meeting and boarding a boat, you’re told to get aboard the boat without being seen but there’s a dude blocking the way onto the boat so you’ve gotta sneak around the guards, but David Hayter’s voice is nowhere to be seen and you are far from dummy thicc. This is where I gave up, the enemies have massively varying detection radius, most of them are basically blind and as far as I can tell they’re all deaf but sometimes I’d just get detected and not know why. When you get detected you’re treated to minutes of cutscene, then loading back to the menu, loading your save, and more cutscene before you’re back into the game. This is probably the single most frustrating way to lose a level and at first my reaction was simply ‘How did they not realize that this wasn’t fun while testing’, then I thought back to the credits and remembered a distinct lack of QA credits. If this game was tested, it was tested as well as it is voice acted, which is to say, poorly.
The game is on a compact disc as mentioned before, and my PS2 makes pained noises while reading it, and it hurts me to know that my PS2s lifespan may have actually been lowered by this waste of bytes. For the unaware, the PS2 can read CDs just fine, but it has to do so at a higher speed and this lowers the lifespan of the disk drive.
Of my collection this game is by far the worst thing I own, and my collection includes Trixie in Toyland, Sonic Unleashed, An American Tail, and Hidden Invasion. I enjoy bad games and failed forms of art but I can’t bring myself to even tolerate this game. It is possibly the worst digital thing I’ve subjected myself to. The only possible reason I could recommend this mess is as a conversation piece of having a game made by the people who brought child pornography to the PS2. That is not a joke.