Review – Demon Gaze

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Platform: PlayStation®Vita

Genre: Dungeon-crawling RPG

Player(s): Single

Audio: Japanese/English

Age Rating: Teen, PEGI 12

Publisher: NIS America, Inc.

Developer: Experience Inc.

Licensor : KADOKAWAGAMES

Release date: April 22 2014 (US) ; April 25 2014 (EU)


Demon Gaze is a first person, dungeon-crawling RPG which was released inJapan a little over a year ago and it now makes its way west.  NIS America brings us another gem that feels right athome on the PlayStation®Vita system, it’s a welcome and much needed addition torather a thin (but fantastic) library.

The land ofMisrid, is overrun by monsters and demons since times long past, and is now a populardestination for treasure hunters and mercenaries seeking new thrills inside the many dungeons Misrid has on offer, but only a Demon Gazer candefeat and capture the demons in charge. As Oz you must face theresponsibilities of being a Demon Gazer by helping the owner of the DragonPrincess Inn, Fran, in her mission to defeat and capture the demons. Lorna theprevious Demon Gazer becomes a mentor to Oz and is joined by a cast ofcolourful and hilarious characters residing at the Inn, that ensure there isnever a dull moment.

The verylinear story in these types of games would usually see huge text dumps thatwill have you wishing for some action, but thankfully this isn’t the case in Demon Gaze . Dialogue scenes are keptshort and sweet, entwined with the weird happenings going on around the Inn which are never a bore. The biggest stars are the supporting charactersresiding in the Inn, they are collectively the weirdest and mostrandom characters in any game and are not shy to suddenly remove theirclothes.

The DragonPrincess Inn will be your base of operations throughout the game it includesthe usual weapon and items shops but also a few unique additions such as a Bath,where the stylist lives who allows you to change the look, gender, voice andname of any of your characters. The mostunique and strangest aspect of the base is that the owner Franinsists that everyone pays rent, and so you must pay her rent every time youreturn from your adventures with your rent increasing each time.

In the Basement you find the mortician who can revive your fallen party members, plus it’s the location of a feature called Ether Mill. The Ether Mill allows the player to extract ether from weapons, armour and accessories then use that to strengthen other equipment of the same type. All weapons, armour and accessories come with a grade, the higher the grade the better the equipment, unique equipment is signified with a star. When strengthening equipment unique items can be strengthened up to level 30 whereas normal items can only reach level 10.

The majorityof the game will see the player exploring dungeons throughout different areasof Misrid each with their own themes. To help the player along some greatfeatures have been added including Auto-Move that allows you to set a destination and the system will take you there. Another unique featurealso making an appearance is the ability to write a Gazer Memo using magicalchalk, this memo can then be seen by your friends when using the networkfeatures to help with hidden treasures or particularly difficult enemies.

The aimduring each dungeon is to activate all of the Looting Summoning Circles, doingso allows you to set gems and summon a monster giving you a chance to receive rare item drops. Once all of the circles are activated in a dungeon the bosswill appear, the boss will be a demon that the player can capture once defeatedand then use during battles much like a summon in other Japanese RPGs. Before a demon can be used it must be taken to Fran, who will turn itinto a key, later in the game multiple keys can be equipped and they can bechanged at Summoning Circles or at the Inn.

Demons aswell as working like summons will also give you bonuses while equipped, Comet forexample has the ability to see hidden areas in a dungeon that you wouldn’t beable to discover without her equipped. While useful outside of battles they arekey during battles giving boosts in defense or increasing HP and healing, bewary though in early game the demon gauge will be small, so demons have ahigher chance of going into a rage when it runs out. When a demon is ragingthey will attack the player and cannot be closed so it’s important to know whento use your demons, but the demon gauge increase over time as your demons rank up.

The battlesystem is your standard JRPG affair and even includes a nifty little repeatbutton that allows you to easily repeat the moves made last turn which savestime during battles. Opposed to that though is a ratherannoying battle log that you must click through, detailing every move, damageetc… even when enemies don’t do anything, although you can view a battle logseparately which seems irrelevant when you’re forced to view it as it happens andcan waste quite a bit of time when you have 20 plus enemies on screen, thankfullyholding down X or better yet O will speed things up a bit.

Alongside themain story there are a very small selection of side quests, which given thenature of the game seems rather strange as it would make those multiplegrinding trips less painful. With the limited number of dungeons availableit would add another element of interest. Grinding during the game can become rather irritating as you’ll come across a demon who is either way too overpowered or one that is just pathetic. If you do happen to get stuck in thegame the difficulty can be changed at any time, although this doesn’t seem to affect an enemy’s strength, only how much experience you gain after each battle.

The start is slow and can be a little annoying, but once it opens up Demon Gaze becomes anaddictive and fun addition to the PlayStation®Vita library. The game allows you to pick it up and play where you left off with ease, which lends itself perfectly to it’s dungeon-crawling nature. While the overall story maybe rather lacking in substance, it’s the supportingcast that really make the experience such a joy, their quirky personalities and the witty dialogue willput a smile on your face and possibly cause some embarrassment while out in public.

+ Brilliant Characters                                  – Limited Side Quests and Extras
+ Interesting World                                       – Irritating Grinding
+ Soundtrack

Verdict

70%
70%
Awesome

Demon Gaze is a wonderful experience and the game achieves what it sets out to do, although with a few annoyances along the way. It's designs may seem cheap but the quality of the game itself and the addiction it brings are top notch! If you're a fan of dungeon crawlers with a few unique extras, then this game is definitely one for you.

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About Author

Co-Founder & Writer of @JapanCuriosity / Writer for @MangaUK. Lover of Anime, Manga and Games. Current obsession - Metal Gear Solid!