[Vita Review] Demon Gaze
Oz awakens to find himself in Misrid â€” a cursed land at the world’s western frontierâ€”with a dark shroud covering the memories of his past. The land before him contains many labyrinths that hold both treasure and danger in equal volumes. Without knowing where else to go or what else to do, Oz decides to take up arms in order to hunt down artifacts and eke out a living in this world that feels so new to him. One day, he will have to face his past, but until then, he has no choice but to trust those around him, and in his newfound abilities as a “Demon Gazer”…
As you can probably tell by now, I love Japanese RPGs, especially dungeon crawlers, which is why I was very happy when NIS America decided to release Demon Gaze over here. In this game, you will take control of a reluctant hero who starts his journey trapped in a dungeon with no memory of how he got there, or of what is going on in general. He soon learns that he’s a Demon Gazer, a very particular type of individual with a skill that can tame even the toughest demons, capturing their souls in the process.
This is the main “hook” for the game, and capturing the souls of greater demons (bosses) and turning them into demon keys is crucial to the dynamic of the game because said demons bring special skills that can be used during battle or while you explore the labyrinths.
To drive you to capture as many demons as possible, the game gives you a little nudge in the right direction by forcing you to do so in order to pay your debt. You see, our hero finds himself having to stay at the Dragon Princess Inn, a lovely inn/tavern in Misrid where adventurers can rent a room to rest between their runs to one of the many labyrinths nearby, and Fran Pendoll, the Inn’s manager demands that you pay for your room. Since you’re “new” at this whole business, she gives you a chance to pay her not with gold, but by capturing the soul of two demons, and thus begins your journey.
To learn more about what being a “Demon Gazer” is all about, we can lean on the knowledge of Lancelorna Beowulf (known just as Lorna to everyone), a former mercenary who also used to work as a Demon Gazer, but who has now retired. Lorna will help the player with the first set of tasks, which makes her a very valuable ally.
The Dragon Princess Inn is also home to a colorful cast of characters who will interact with our hero, either by posting new jobs at the bulletin board of the inn’s hall, or by helping to move along the story during your many conversations. Said cast includes Pinay, a Ney who works at the inn as a maid; Lulu, a skillful mercenary and patron of the inn; Cassel, who is in charge of the weapon shop at the inn; and Lezerem, an elf full of himself who takes care of the item shop, to name a few.
In order to increase the number of members in your party, you’re required to grind for gold (or items and weapons to sell) to be able to pay Fran for extra rooms. You won’t be able to defeat the stronger monsters and demons in the game without a properly balanced party, but having a larger party also bumps the rent you must pay every single time you return to the Inn, so you must plan accordingly. If you always pay your rent on time, Fran will reward you every now and then, but skipping your rent will only increase your tab, making Fran angry. And, trust me, you don’t want to see her angry.
Therefore, exploring each of the dungeons is a must. Luckily, every step you take – every move you make – will be recorded in your map, so that you can know where you’ve already explored, and where each of the summoning circles is located. What are summoning circles? They are the key to improving your party’s odds for survival. When you reach a summoning circle, you’re allowed to place up to 3 gems inside of it, and said gems will trigger an enemy encounter where difficulty will be dictated by how powerful each gem is. Should you be victorious, the enemies will drop an item of varying quality, and yes, their quality will depend on the quality of the gems you’ve used as well as on their type. Since gems can be found in dungeons, or they can be obtained after defeating an enemy, using them to activate these special fights will net you better equipment, thus allowing you to go deeper and deeper into each labyrinth. The rarest of all gems is the artifact gem which, when used, will reward you with a powerful artifact that will unlock a unique skill or bonus for the character that equips it.
Something you should consider is that once you advance a bit in the story, you will unlock an Ether Mill where you can destroy items you don’t need in order to convert them into Ether, a peculiar element that can be used to upgrade the rest of your equipment. The only catch is that in order to, say, upgrade your helmet, you must first destroy a helmet (or two) to secure Ether of the helmet variety. The same applies to all equipment, so be sure to review what type of equipment can be worn by each of your party members before you go a bit crazy.
Demon Gaze is an excellent dungeon crawler that all fans of the genre should buy right now. The quirky story, crazy characters, tight gameplay and the huge amount of content will keep you coming back for more and more. Since there are several difficulty settings (and none of them affect any of the game’s trophies) everyone can take this game for a spin and make it to the end after playing for dozens of hours. And yes, the game does have a Platinum trophy, so get to it!
[review pros=”Fun story.
Interesting use of captured demons.
Very addictive” cons=”Some grinding at the start” score=90]