Release Date: 2014
Console: PS Vita
Genre: RPG, Dungeon Crawler
For every dungeon crawler that you’ve ever heard of, there are probably a dozen that go under the radar. Across consoles and PCs and even mobile phones, the dungeon crawler is one of gaming’s favorite staples. And a lot of them aren’t easy to get into, because it’s only when you’ve invested a certain amount of time into the game that the subtleties and strengths of the gameplay come to the fore. Demon Gaze is a game that finds itself in a similar situation. At first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking it’s another game that features anime-style imagery and spell casting. However, if you give it a chance, Demon Gaze will impress you with the depth of its story and combat.
Begins with you waking up in a nameless dungeon, with no idea of where you are or what you’re supposed to do. There are eerie sounds in the vicinity, and as you try to find your way out of your predicament, you will come across a woman who looks like she’s seen more than her fair share of battles. She tells you to investigate the sounds and gives you a weapon with which to fight whatever might be the source. Through this first battle, the game reveals to you that you have a very peculiar ability – you are a gazer, with the power to control and dominate demons.
As the game progresses, you come to learn more about your situation as you meet different characters at a local inn. Unfortunately, here the game regresses to one of gaming’s most overused tropes - the inn keeper gives you a list of menial tasks that you need to perform before the story progresses any further. During your stay at the inn, you will meet mercenaries and other shady characters who are also seeking safe haven at the inn.
The narrative is a fairly twisty-turny affair, but the gameplay is by and large standard. The inn is your major focal point - you buy items, weapons and even rent rooms for members of your party. The graphics are generally good, even though the art styles seem a bit different for some characters you might come across. Once you begin the actual dungeon crawling, you will see the care that has gone into the map design. The dungeons in Demon Gaze are hostile and full of secret passages and booby traps. You use the map to navigate and find your objectives as you make your way through.
The Game Play:
In another mechanic that has become common with so many games being played online, is that you can now leave a list of predefined messages at any spot in the map. For example, if while making your way through a dungeon you find some corner where there is a secret treasure, you can leave a memo that says something to that effect, and other players who come across the same spot will see your directions. You can use memos like these to convey potential dangers or even random chat messages. This makes the world feel more like a living, breathing space that is inhabited by a lot of real players. In addition, dungeons in Demon Gaze have circles that you must conquer before you can face the boss monster.
These circles are also checkpoints, so if you perish during a certain point on your way, you will return to the closest circle you activated. These circles are also useful for collecting loot, since you can use a certain combination of gems on them to make sure that you face exactly the kind of monsters you need to slay to earn certain items.
The actual combat also has some interesting elements. After you’ve defeated a boss monster, they are turned into keys that you, as the gazer, can use to unleash them on your foes during your battles. All monsters have their own unique attributes such as hitpoints, damage, special skills and loyalty. You have a demon gauge that you draw energy from to keep the monsters under your control. If this gauge runs out, the summoned demons run rampant and will attack anyone in their vicinity. This makes for an interesting combat dynamic where you have to use your powers judiciously or risk injuring yourself. Some of these monsters also have special abilities such as sensing traps and revealing hidden pathways.
Even though you have powerful monsters that you can summon at will, combat isn’t easy. You have to use your abilities and those of your party members properly to ensure that you get through battles. Different situations and enemies require different tactics, so you have to make sure that you don’t charge in wildly and hope for the best. The difficulty level ramps up gradually and is consistent with the leveling up of your own characters.
Demon Gaze is a game that you shouldn’t dismiss due to its initial appearances. If you are patient with the game, there is a lot of fun to be had, even if the narrative gets bogged down by a number of useless quests. Combat is fun, deep and challenging, and collecting powerful loot and unleashing powerful demons to tear down your enemies is always enjoyable. If you’re looking for a good dungeon crawler on the PS Vita, give Demon gaze a whirl.
Demon Gaze PS Vita Game Review Score: 7 out of 10