Demon Gaze review
Demon Gaze is the latest title from NIS America, the international publisher of various Japanese developed titles. In Demon Gaze you take on the role of a Demon Gazer called Oz, a man with no memory of his past, but while he doesn’t remember who or what he is, he does have one mission and that it to defeat and capture all the demons that inhabit the cursed land of Misrid.
First and foremost Demon Gaze is a deceptively easy looking dungeon crawler with its easy to use and understand features, but this is a façade as Demon Gaze is one of the most unforgiving games I have ever played on the PlayStation Vita.
As I said Demon Gaze is an unforgiving game, progressing through it is no easy task with the game teasing you with relatively easy fixed and random monsters before hitting you in the face with an extremely difficult demon boss fight at the end of a dungeon. However, if you are lucky enough or have a strong enough party the difficulty is reduced, but still present. While the difficulty curve does ramp up when fighting a demon the game creates a great sense of accomplishment as you finally defeat and capture the demon’s soul after X number of tries. What makes defeating demons even more rewarding is the fact that the defeated demon joins you as a “Demon Key”, which you can use the summon a particular demon to help you in battle, but you have to be careful because if you leave the demon is out for too long it will enrage and turn on you.
Combat is your standard turn-based battle setup where you each side takes turn hitting each other. When it is your turn you can choose what each party member does, which either attack, defend, special ability, item or in the case of the main character summon demon/use demon skill. I would just like to point back to what I said earlier and that is the fact that the game has an easy to use interface, because the layout of your battle interface is clean crisp and easy to understand right from the beginning and to make battles even easier the game throws in a repeat function, which has each character do the exact same set of moves as they did in their previous turn, this is a handy time saver especially when fighting less powerful characters. However, there is one major issue with combat from an interface perspective and that is the fact the developers decided to hide the enemy’s health bar, and the only way to see it is via a ranger’s special skill. The lack of enemy HP bar for me is incredibly annoying as I like to see how close I am to defeating an enemy.
As with any dungeon crawler exploring each dungeon is an important part of the game, and the need to explore is very much present in Demon Gaze’s near endless dungeons. In Demon Gaze exploration is important because you need to find and defeat X number of summoning circles to get the dungeon’s demon to appear, summoning is not an easy task however as you need at least three special gems to operate the circle. These circles are usually hidden away in the corner of the dungeon, which means you have to search every path now this might not sound like an issue, but some of the dungeons are rather big and as such exploring every inch of it takes time and to make it take even longer some dungeons have extra challenged such as tiles that spin you around so you don’t know which way to walk, and floors that damage you (can be negated by a specific demon) etc. Honestly I have to say the exploration of the dungeons is one of the weakest aspects of Dungeon Gaze as they feel like they go on forever and none of them have a quick transport system, I would have liked it if you could use the summoning circles that you gained control off as a teleportation device between the circles in the dungeon. Of course Demon Gaze has one thing next to no other portable dungeon crawler has and that it is the fact the dungeon exploration is done via the first person perspective, which gives a unique quality as the dungeons are have some good detail put into them.
There is one last point I want to make on dungeons and that is the “Gazer Memos” system. This system allows you to write notes on the floor of the dungeon for other players to see and read. While this memo system has proved to be beneficial at times with note pointing out hidden doors or items, there are several notes that are pretty crass with some notes have sexual innuendos, but the game allows you to delete these memos. For those who don’t want to see these notes spread across the dungeon you do have the option to either turn the memo system on or off.
Now I wish to go back to talking about how difficult Demon Gaze is, and talk about one of the major reasons behind the difficulty, the amount of grinding the game requires you to do. Levelling up in Demon Gaze is painfully slow with the monsters in the game’s excessively long dungeons giving what looked like to be a random number of experience points, for example one monster encounter might reward you with four thousand, but another in the same dungeon could gain you twelve thousand. From what I saw the reason could be down to the amount of monsters you have to fight, which means the amount of experience you gain from each monster encounter is completely random. Basically if you dislike the monotony of running the same dungeon over and over again, Demon Gaze will get boring for you incredibly fast.
If the excessive grinding wasn’t a big enough issue, I think the way loot works might be. Basically getting new and more powerful armour and weapons is a struggle as the only sure fire way to get decent armour and weapons is by using the summoning circles and as I said earlier to use the circles (you can only use each circle one per run) you need special gems. Although the way the gems work is a big help to getting new loot as the gems are split into weapon, special and armour categories, which means you can tailor what drops you get from successfully defeating the spawned monsters. For example if I want there to be a greater chance of a staff dropping I would use three staff gems.
I think it is time to step away from talking about the dungeons and battles etc. and talk about the game’s story. The reason why I have put off talking about the story is well because it isn’t anything to write home about. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t anything special. The game’s story focuses on the “Dragon Princess Inn” this inn is where you live and where the story advances. At the inn, the manager, a woman called Fran, will help push you on your mission to defeat the demons and run dungeons, the reason is mainly because you are in debt to her and second you need to pay rent to stay at the inn, and well that is the basic premise of the main story. The main story does explain in more detail why you need to defeat the demons and more about why Fran is pushing you to defeat them. There are also various side missions that you will stumble across, these are usually take a while to complete, but they do help flesh out the world you are in.
While the story is average and is mainly used as a way of connecting dungeon to dungeon, the characters you interact with in the inn are what really has you looking forward to returning to the inn after a defeating some tough monsters. I have to say I loved all the main characters that live in the inn from Lezerm Rantile, the eccentric male elf who runs the item store to Pinay, the excitable and talkative female Ney (cat-girl) who looks after all the cooking and cleaning in the inn. Each of the inn’s residence has their own personality and on more than one occasion you see characters with opposite personality’s clash, the most obvious of it between Lezerm and Cassel, who runs the weapon shop. Going through the visual novel style conversations with each character is a blast and it feels really refreshing to see what they will do or say especially if you have just returned from a tough dungeon.
Well I mentioned most of the content featured in Demon Gaze, but there is much more. One primary feature is how you gain new party members. To gain a new party member you need to buy a room in the inn, this price increases with each new room you buy, for example the first extra room is 1000g and the second extra room in 5,000g, along with having to buy a room you have to pay 500g to register the extra party member and the registration is where things get interesting. In the process to register a new member you can have Fran give you a new member or you can create your own party member. When you create your own member you can select their appearance, their race, class, voice etc. It might seem like a small addition, but the ability to create your own team is great way to create your own custom experience.
Another interesting feature is the rent system. The rent system is pretty self explanatory, since you are living in an inn you have to pay for your logging and as such every time you return to the inn after leaving a dungeon you have to pay your rent. Also, the amount of rent isn’t fixed and changes depending what level you are playing the game at, the number of rooms you and your party are occupying and how far you are into the game. It is very easy to gain the money needed to pay the rent, but if you don’t have the money to pay the rent don’t fret as the manager will let you pay her back when you have the money.
The last interesting feature in Demon Gaze is the “Ether Mill” that is operated by the mortician Prometh, a sleepy woman who always walks around in her underwear. The ether mill allows you to upgrade you and your party’s weapons and armour by extracting ether from similar weapon/armour types and using the extracted ether to strengthen your selected weapon/armour. For example if you have two lances and only need one you can extract the ether from the one you don’t need and use it on the lance you do need. There are of course limitations to the ether mill as you only upgrade a piece or armour or a weapon so many times.
While I have mentioned some issues above there is one issue that does bugs me more than it should and that is the sexualisation of characters. This issue is most apparent when you go to create your own party member as both the male and female appearances leave very little to the imagination with female characters in skimpy outfits and male characters showing some skin, although there is more sexualised female appearances than there are mans. In the case of the sexualisation of characters you make it isn’t that bad as you only see their appearance when you enter a dungeon or begin/finish a battle. Of course the sexualisation is not limited to the characters you make. Some of the female NPCs are sexualised with the loli female Prometh walking around in her underwear and Fran dressing down herself down in front of the main character in more than one occasion, although the male elf, Lezerm does like to strip down to his underwear on more than one occasion too. This isn’t a major issue for me, but I just felt like it had to be mentioned.
Now before I wrap up this review let’s talk about sound and graphics. Sound wise the game is pretty basic when it comes to music as overly used battle music get annoying quickly and made me wish they threw in an extra piece of battle music just to change it up every so often, with that said each area of a dungeon has its own piece of music. In regards to voice acting it is alright, I didn’t notice any issues that made me lose my immersion.
Graphically the game looks really good for a Vita title as the game features some well detailed enemies that really stand out when you encounter them. Also when running around in the dungeon everything seemed nicely coloured and set the mood of the dungeon extremely well.
Should you buy Demon Gaze? Yes
Demon Gaze is an extremely challenging dungeon crawler that mixes unforgiving combat with humour filled character interaction. However, the game does require you to do a lot of level grinding.
+ Emotive and interesting characters
+ Unforgiving combat
+ The use of first person in dungeons
+ Good mixture of combat and visual novel elements
+/- Average story
– Lots of grinding
– Unnecessarily long dungeons
|Developer||Publisher||Genre||Rating||Platform||Time played||Release date|
|Experience Inc.||NIS America||Dungeon Crawler||12+||PS Vita||15 hours||April 25, 2014 (EU)April 22, 2014 (NA)|
For more information on Demon Gaze, visit http://nisamerica.com/games/demongaze/.
If you are interested in buying Demon Gaze, please visit the official NIS America store.
Author: Aaron Meehan
Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.