Demon Tribe and Sega's quest to bring hardcore multiplayer action to iOS

Sega mentioned Demon Tribe at the Tokyo Game Show last month as an upcoming iOS release, but didn't release anything about it apart from the title. What is the thing, exactly? According to a preview published in this week's Famitsu, a mix of everything: role-playing, action, multiplayer, and a dark-fantasy setting that would definitely look at home on a "standard" console RPG.

"The concept here is that it's a new generation of fighting, one where you're working together to duel against foes," chief producer Masayoshi Kikuchi said. "Our aim from the start was to have players cooperating with each other as they fight. We wanted something that was approachable but still offered a lot of strategy and depth. It's not something that demands fast reaction, but it's not like a simulation game where you can take all the time you want to take action."

Demon Tribe puts you at the reins of the so-called Demon Tribe, a shadowy group of agents given codenames that refer to old fairy tales. You and your friends bring these agents into realtime battle against enemy positions, using the demons at your disposal to attack and even "demonizing" yourself to gain new skills for limited periods of time. The money and material you earn for surviving then get used to upgrade your base of operations, letting you unlock items, weapons, and more powerful demons to harness.

In the Famitsu interview, Kikuchi took pains to emphasize that Demon's Tribe is both hardcore and approachable. "Battles are always 3-on-3, but even on the long side, they take no longer than about ten minutes," he said. "Basically you're switching between the battle and the building sections of the game. There's lots of story elements, too, and a great deal of characters show up in the game, so hopefully players will find a good set of agents that they like."

The game is due for release sometime this winter as (so far) an iOS exclusive. "Just because this is a smartphone game, that doesn't mean we're making this with the idea that something light is good enough," Kikuchi noted. "Our aim here is just to make a fun, high-end game while adding some smartphone device-specific elements that give gamers a really new experience. That drive goes into the setting, the visuals, and all aspects of gameplay."

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