Demon Gaze is a PS Vita exclusive Dungeon Crawler JRPG by Kadokawa Games that may have easily fell off most of your radars. At a glace Demon Gaze may look like a generic JRPG but there’s a lot of depth to this extremely entertaining and unforgiving game.
In Demon Gaze you play as Oz, a character you can name yourself and even completely change his looks and gender. Oz possesses a special power named same as the title of the game, that is very rare but very much in demand. The Demon Gazer ability allows Oz or whatever you name the protagonist to capture demons and later convert them into Demon Keys. These Demon Keys when used allow Oz to summon the aforementioned demons to help him in battle.
The main quest of Demon Gaze is to capture these special demons and convert them into Demon Keys, there are numerous special Demons and each commands a Dungeon of their own. Each Demon has their own special attacks and abilities to use in and outside of battle, so using just one demon for the whole game is not a viable option. This add a lot of depth to the game as you’re only allowed to take a limited number of demons with you to a Dungeon.
Demon Gaze’s plot is a typical JRPG scenario. The protagonist is an amnesiac hero, being trained by a veteran Demon Gazer to take her place after she loses her powers in a mysterious incident. Most of your interactions with the game’s cast are in the Inn where our lead is staying. The Inn is home to a versatile cast which make the game’s story seem worthwhile. These include the calm and collected Innkeeper Fran, but all that goes to nothing if you fail to pay your rent in time. I really loved the interactions between the two shopkeepers in the Inn, the Weapon shop owner Cassel and Item shop owner Lezerem definitely have a history with each other that leads to hilarious scenes.
Other than the supporting cast Oz and the characters he recruits to fight alongside him don’t contribute to the narrative as they’re essentially mute. The game has a very customizable character creator allowing you to choose their looks, stats and abilities but ultimately they’re easily interchangeable. Due to this their is no real attachment to your party members. As mentioned before, the supporting cast is very good but you can’t carry the whole game with just them. The game is also very heavy on fan service, so take that as you may.
The game’s graphics are a mixed between 3D visuals for the dungeons and an awesome 2D artstyle for the rest of the game. Although the dungeons for the most part look mediocre, I have to commend the arrangement. There are hidden pathways, traps, etc keeping the gameplay fresh. If you have your Vita connected to the Internet you can download Memos, similar to messages from the Dark Souls games. These allow other players playing the game to leave tips or even stray you off, its the Internet, what can you do?
To find and capture demons players will have to explore dungeons. Each dungeon has their own unique look and monsters as well as traps. Exploration is done in first person, making the controls a bit wonky due to the PS Vita’s Analog Stick. There’s also this stiff aspect to exploration as you can not move diagonally. Players will also have to rely on their maps a lot, the dungeon backgrounds aren’t very impressive and are mostly copy pasted textures, so to accurately navigate dungeons the map is the best way.
The best aspect of Demon Gaze has to be the battles. As you explore dungeons looking for Demon Gates, you’ll be taking part in a lot of battles. The battles are fast, quick and exciting. The best fights are with the area bosses, as instead of just mashing buttons and cutting through fodder enemies players have to think for a bit. The bosses are extremely hard compared to normal enemies, so the sharp difficulty spike often took me by surprise, but after a bit of grinding I always came back stronger than ever.
The battle system is simple, you have four options: Attack with your weapon, use skills, defend or use an item. Oz can exclusively use the Demon Gaze ability to summons demons you capture and turn into Demon Keys in battle. The demon acts on their own and are fairly powerful. To balance things out if you summon demons too often they will go berserk and start attacking everyone, you certainly don’t want that.
Like any other Dungeon Crawler, you’ll be spending most of your time grinding after getting your ass kicked for the umpteenth time by the Dungeon boss. This had me bored out of my mind, but fans of the genre should enjoy this due to the game’s pretty good battle system.
Other than the main quests to collect Demon Keys, players can also accept side-quests at the Inn. Unfortunately most of them are fetch and grab quests and the game poorly explains what needs to be done. There are also a few quests that you can’t complete unless you progress the story, but the game won’t tell you that. I had to experience this the hard way as I frantically explored a dungeon for an hour before realizing that you need to progress the story to open a certain door.
Gold and money also plays a huge part of the game. Your main function is to defeat demons so that you and your companions can grab treasures from the dungeons. Bringing back, selling, and management of the stuff you gather each trip is essential. With each return trip you have to pay Fran the Innkeeper a certain amount of Gold in rent, which increases with each visit. Later on in the game you have to make sure that what you bring along from your trip is the worth the visit back home. The treasures and equipment you bring home can be sold for Gold or used to improve your existing equipment.
Demon Gaze is certainly not for those who are looking for a short and sweet JRPG to sink their teeth into. Demon Gaze is a long and tough game, with a story that drags on way too much for its own good. If we’re talking about value Demon Gaze has everything going for it, the gameplay is deep, entertaining and should last you for a fair bit. Overall its decent, and worth a try if you’re in Dungeon Crawlers, consider it the Etrian Oddysey of the Vita.