The Vita is fast becoming the platform of choice for both developers and players who want a slice of JRP action in their lives. Demon Gaze continues this trend and also adds to the recent resurgence of games taking on the first person dungeon crawler genre. It’s bright and colourful, it’s got questionably drawn female characters and it’s absolutely hard as nails.
You awaken in a basement without knowledge of who you are. You are quickly thrown into a battle with a demon. After defeating it you find out you are a Demon Gazer with the ability to capture strong demons and harness their abilities. You then have to venture into the worlds many dungeons to find more foes to defeat and hopefully find out all those things you can’t remember. We’ve been here before with the story certainly but there are numerous twists and turns along the way to keep this one interesting.
The game is split into two different sections. First of all you have the inn. Here you can talk to NPC characters, accept quests and stock up on gear and weapons. You can also revive fallen characters and just about everything else we have come to expect from this type of game. You rent a room and every time you return from the world you have to pay up. If you can’t afford it the mysterious girl running the place will let you off but you’ll lose out on bonuses and some facilities won’t be open to you.
In order to venture into the world you have to build a party. Starting with just one member, each time you want to add someone you have to rent them a room. It’s expensive but worthwhile as you won’t be getting far without a full complement of heroes. The dungeons in Demon gaze are tough and you’ll be hammered early on if you don’t keep an eye on what you’re doing. Perhaps more than any other game in recent times you really need to keep on top of your skills and how different status effects work. Mastering the elemental strength and weaknesses of attacks is also key to survival.
Dungeons are grid based and the game will auto map for you as you progress. The aim is to find demon circles. Placing gems on the circles will someone monsters and once defeated you will take control of the circle. The circle can then be used to save and change equipped demons while placing gems with different properties will alter the items dropped by slain foes. You’re real aim is to control all the circles in a given area as this makes the lord demon of the realm appear. Defeating the lord demons binds them to you and also progresses the story.
You can only have one demon tied to you at any one time and they all have their own styles and advantages in the over world and combat. For instance, one demon will let you walk on lava, allowing you access to previously unreachable areas, while another makes hidden doors glow. Most are also tied to a particular element such as earth, fire or darkness and thus are best employed when dealing with a lord demon weak against that element. Be warned though, these demons are seriously tough. Battles can rage for a long time and if you die it’s straight back to the title screen.
Combat is turn based and happens randomly as well as when you walk into certain symbols in dungeons. It’s fairly standard stuff except for the inclusion of being able to unlock a demon to assist you. When summoned, the demon will act independently to help you while a timer ticks down each turn. If you don’t lock the demon back away before the timer runs out it will go into chaotic mode and start attacking the party as well. More turns are gained by defeating enemies and demons also level up and become more loyal as you progress.
Despite the difficulty the game is also incredibly rewarding. Every time you venture that bit further it feels like an achievement and your characters learn new skills every few levels or so. It may require a bit of grinding to break the back of the difficulty curve but it’s a game well worth sticking with.
Overall, Demon Gaze is another excellent addition to the dungeon crawling genre. It’s certainly not a game to cut your teeth with but for those versed in the ways of turn based combat and elements it’s a worthy and challenging adventure to undertake.