Among the recent releases for the new World of Darkness, Demon is perhaps unique in the sense that you play a supernatural creature that was never human at any point of their history. The Unchained were formerly Angels, agents of the God-Machine, an ancient and unknowable entity whose true scope, nature and motivations are alien to everyone, even the Angels that serve it.
At a crucial point in their time as Angels, the player characters chose to disobey the God-Machine. Whether from pride, anger, love or pity, these Angels fell from the God-Machine, severing their connection in their first act of true independence. This act of free will is what defines the Unchained, and their new fallen state is something that they bear with pride or shame, and how they react to their new existence forms the basis of their Agenda.
The resulting game is an intriguing game of espionage, as the Demons find ways to subvert or destroy the Infrastructure of the God Machine in order to keep their hard-earned independence, while investigating what makes the God-Machine tick in order to keep one step ahead… or to gain an advantage. The player characters have a host of interesting abilities, from being perfect liars to being able to Spoof detection as being anything but a normal person in the presence of supernatural scrutiny. Demons also have access to a remarkable number of Embeds and Exploits, powers that take advantage of loopholes in reality, allowing them to perform specific tricks that can upstage even Mages, but lack the same kind of flexibility.
Interestingly enough, my experience with Demon has been less about horror and more about supernatural espionage. The Demons excel at being able to get into where they’re not allowed, and their ability to shift Cover makes for intriguing roleplaying opportunities, but I can’t help but feel that the players themselves are somewhat divorced from the horror of their actions. Don’t get me wrong, my players were well aware that their characters were involved in some very monstrous activities, but maybe it was the idea that their characters were never human that dulled the sense of shock at the atrocities that they were committing.
Overall, Demon: the Descent is a great game, featuring a protagonist that is truly capable of being an outright monster while fighting opponents that are far more alien and malevolent than they. The powers and abilities of the game are imaginative and interesting, and there’s a whole slew of antagonists that the Demons can contend with. There’s plenty of opportunities to play up espionage tropes, including stories of trying to maintain dual lives, making deals with the enemy and the possibility of double-agents and betrayal within the team. Demon: the Descent is a worthy addition to the new World of Darkness.