Demon Gaze Review
Handheld gaming systems have found no shortage of dungeon crawler RPGs as of late. With Conception II now available, Mind Zero releasing earlier in the week, and more games to look forward to such as Persona Q, there are soon to be several titles to choose from. Demon Gaze is a first person dungeon crawler, developed by Kadokawa Games, which shares some similarities to Etrian Odyssey. Among all these titles, is Demon Gaze worth selecting from the group?
The game begins in the Dragon Princess Inn, where the main player character mysteriously wakes up. This place is a home base of sorts where the majority of the game’s characters will hang out at all times, where you can buy items and equipment, and where most of the storyline takes place. Each NPC here has a different role, from offering quests, storing items, or selling equipment. You can form a party with any character types of your choosing from several classes and races, and can even adjust their appearance and name. Initially you can only start with 2 party members and you can unlock more as you gain money to rent out rooms.
Early on, your character learns that he has the power to subdue powerful demons and to allow them to aid you against the swarms of monsters that now inhabit the world. From the Inn, you take a party to various ‘dungeons’ in the world to find ten of these demons to convert to your side. This is essentially the premise for the entire narrative of the game, as well as the primary goal for all the crawling around you’ll find yourself undertaking. While there are other plot elements that make their way into the story at times, it’s largely uninteresting, throwaway, and in the background.
As for the actual dungeon-crawling aspect of this dungeon crawler, you move around a grid step-by-step with a first person viewpoint. In these dungeons you can find items lying around, switches to open paths and doors, and of course enemies to battle. There are both random encounters and enemy icons on the map that will initiate encounters as well.
Battles are also in first person, and your party can be arranged into a front and back row. Each class has different equipment types they are allowed to wield, as well as special abilities that can be used to deal damage or bolster your team. These aspects of the combat are fairly typical and don’t really need any more explanation than that. The basic set up is satisfactory and allows for a fair bit of customization in how you pick classes and roles to build your team. However, once you pick a team, you'll probably want to stick with it for the long haul.
In the dungeons, you are tasked to close portals scattered around in order to ultimately get to the demon you are looking for. This is another primary aspect of the game, which is how you obtain the vast majority of your equipment. While you can buy some gear from a shop back at the Dragon Princess Inn, oftentimes it’s far too pricey to be useful. Instead, you can use ‘gems’ obtained from enemies to place on portals to obtain specific types of equipment you are looking for. For example, if you need new swords for your samurai character - you can find a portal, place some Katana Gems on it to initiate a battle, and once the battle is finished you’ll be rewarded with some new katana to use, hopefully good ones. These portals are abundantly found in every dungeon of the game. Keeping track of your equipment and gems – making sure everyone’s gear is up to snuff – is always something to pay attention to. As your equipment treasures are randomized, sometimes it’s up to luck when you’ll get excellent gear or subpar gear.
There are some ways to make things easier on yourself - check out our Tips and Tricks feature for some tidbits here (hint: Paladins are fantastic).
As with some dungeon crawlers, you can find yourself spending a lot of time exploring and fighting battles without too much to look at other than similar looking rooms and many monsters you fight again and again and again. Visuals aren't great and the battle music did nothing for me, and there isn't much substance to keep you going at times. Sometimes that just comes with the territory, so be aware that sometimes you’ll feel the ‘crawl’ in dungeon crawler as you approach the later areas of the game. The game is mostly battling monsters after monsters, and unfortunately since your tasks throughout the game don't change much from start to finish, playing can feel tedious and dragged out. Once you get a hang of things a few hours in, there's isnt much else to find in the game other than getting stronger equipment and higher stats to fight stronger monsters.
In the end, Demon Gaze has some interesting dungeon-crawling ideas mixed in with eyeroll-worthy fanservice, a forgettable narrative, annoying soundtrack, and some displeasing artwork. If dungeon crawlers are something you can’t get enough of, Demon Gaze is probably a game you can enjoy. Otherwise it’s a little more difficult to recommend. Some of the ideas behind demons and equipment were interesting, but they can’t hold up the rest of the game on their own.