Demon Gaze (PS Vita) Review
Kalvin Martinez / May 14th, 2014 No Comments
Demon Gaze, developed by Kadokawa Games and Experience Inc., is a sequel to Students of the Round, which was originally released on PC and ported to Xbox 360 and PSP.
The game utilizes stylized character portraits to convey story and battles, and a first-person perspective to explore the game’s dungeons. Demon Gaze is a quirky game with some intriguing mechanics, but everything about it is aimed primarily at hardcore JRPG fans.
A Demon Gazer, an Inn and a Perverted Catlady
A voice beckons you to awake and escape. How did you end up in this dungeon? Who is calling you? How can you escape? None of these questions are answered; all there is to do is put two feet forward and reach an exit.
Traps and false hope litter this prison, but determination keeps you from despairing. Eventually, hope appears in the form of light streaming in through a doorway. But before you can taste the air of freedom a pissed off demon aims to rip your intestines from your stomach. Despite the fear and doubt clouding your mind, your weapon strikes true and the demon is defeated–more than defeated; it is sealed in a key for you to use later. You find a terrifying lady with a white eye patch staring at you. She takes you to the Dragon Princess Inn and tells you that you are a Demon Gazer who must defeat the demons running rampant across Mythrid. The question is are you simply just a Demon Gazer or something more?
Demon Gaze casts players as a Demon Gazer who wakes up with amnesia but eventually learns the truth of his identity. It takes a couple hours for the story to get going. By the time something actually happens, players have already defeated three demons and explored two dungeons.
The game does its best to thread in mystery and intrigue as players complete mission objectives, but they aren’t enough. What the game hopes players find compelling and engaging in the story is the dialogue. Demon Gaze clearly goes for an absurd and bawdy humor to keep players invested in the events at the Inn. The humor relies on tired and cliche sexual jokes and sight gags so much, it makes the writing feel like it is trying too hard to keep players’ attention.
Cash Rules Everything Around Me
Missions make up the structure of Demon Gaze. As players take on missions they will have to embark into the world’s various dungeons. Six regions make up the world players explore in Demon Gaze. Each region contains a new dungeon for players to explore. These dungeons have numerous pitfalls and traps barring progress, granting players the demon or skill necessary to move forward.
Every dungeon has a certain number of Demon Circles, which are places where players can use gems to summon demons. Using different gems summons random demons and also affects the type of loot gained from defeating them. The key to capturing Demon Circles comes when hunting rampaging demons. Major demons haunt Demon Circles throughout a dungeon; capturing all Demon Circles forces a boss battle, and defeating the demon allows it to be sealed. Sealing demons allows players to use them and their skills in battle. This is important when exploring later dungeons.
The main motivation for exploring dungeons and capturing demons in the game revolves around paying Fran the Innkeeper rent. Every time a player leaves and returns to the Inn, Fran collects money and players who cannot pay are punished. The rent goes up every time a player ventures outside. Keeping an eye on how much money you make from each excursion is important, especially since returning to the Inn is vital for healing, reviving and buying new gear.
Battles in the game are turn-based, with players and enemies alternating turns. Player characters can attack, defend, use skills and items or summon demons to best enemies of ever increasing difficulty. There are various types of enemy encounters, ranging from random and easy to more difficult demon circle and boss battles. Random battles occur when exploring dungeons, while battles with harder demons occur at specific enemy icons, Demon Circle summons or boss fights.
Battles are standard fare for turn-based combat but they do seem unusually quick without being fast-paced. It seems to result from a lack of key information being communicated during battles. Sometimes player characters die or take massive damage without any rhyme or reason. Boss fights are a good challenge, but it can be hard to tell how difficult the boss is due to insufficient levels or the general flow of combat. This makes the grinding nature of the JRPG more of a burden.
Character design is highly stylized with an obvious anime/manga flair. The art style is gorgeous. The main issue with the graphics is the animations. While the art looks good, animations that are supposed to give a sense of movement to the characters is extremely weak and superficial. Most animations involve simple tricks that give the illusion of life, including blinking eyes or breasts shaking for women. The sexualization of female characters and the game’s steamy female cutscenes are gratuitous and gross. The weakest part of the game is the events at the Inn, which is where most of the art and character animations come into play.
The other half is the actual dungeon exploration, which looks solid. Textures are a bit rough for most of the environments, but there is a good sense of weight and presence when moving through dungeons. Player movement feels good, especially compared to the static nature of the rest of the game. Battles involve monsters standing in various rows with little animation. Overall, the art style makes for a mixed bag when it comes to the look of Demon Gaze.
While not a bad game, the particular charms of Demon Gaze require a huge time investment to see any return. By the time the story and gameplay mechanics get rolling, most players likely will have checked out. The art style is gorgeous, but the game’s superficial animations make it feel cold. Dialogue aims to be humorous but the tone and material is dull and puerile, making the writing unappealing.
Exploring dungeons and capturing demons adds some strategy to exploration and battles, but the battles themselves feel underwhelming. Demon Gaze has some positives working in its favor, but the execution on key elements hold the game back from being great.
tags: Demon Gaze , demon gaze review , Experience Inc. , JRPG , Kadokawa Games , review