|System: PS Vita|
|Dev: Kadokawa Games|
|Pub: NIS America|
|Release: April, 22, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 544p||Fantasy Violence, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol|
There are a few annoyances in the way that the game has been put together. In particular, the battles don't auto-scroll, requiring the player to press X in order to advance every piece of battle text—and there's a lot of battle text. Also, many of the game's helpful features aren't well-introduced or explained, either. Important features such as auto-movement and treasure maps will need to be figured out by the player. This game may be easier to access than some of its Japanese dungeon-crawling cousins, but it could still do a better job at helping the player get the most of its many features. At least the help menu is fairly extensive, so players with a good amount of initiative will be able to figure out how to best get things done.
The biggest turn-off in terms of gameplay, however, is the difficulty level paired with slow pacing. Beyond the randomness factor that threatens sudden party death, there are often moments when the player will hit a brick wall in the form of a nasty demon boss, and the only real solution is leveling up and collecting stronger equipment. Even with a good battle strategy, the numbers are simply stacked against a party that's too low-level for certain encounters. This is par for the course in hardcore dungeon-crawlers, but the problem in Demon Gaze is just how long it takes to level up and make money.
When it's time to grind up some levels, the low encounter rate, which is a blessing for exploration, becomes a curse. You could use auto-travel to go from one end of the dungeon to another in hopes of enough random encounters, but it's more effective to travel from portal to portal, summoning demons in hopes of a good roll of the random equipment drop dice and watching experience bars go up ever-so-slowly. It can be quite tedious, and while I enjoy difficult dungeon crawlers, it feels like Demon Gaze isn't balanced quite right. Thorough exploration of a dungeon should yield sufficient experience for a skilled player to tackle its boss challenges, and that simply isn't the case here.
Dungeon crawler fans who can look beyond this balance issue will find plenty of fun bits to play with, and no, I'm not talking about the ones that are busting out of various barely-there bodices. There's equipment customization, a nice array of side quests that include story elements, upgrades that allow for further exploration of completed dungeons, and various other RPG goodies. The game's main narrative is more interesting than that of most dungeon-crawlers, too, although I suspect many players will never make it to the end of the story.
Demon Gaze is the kind of title that only a particular group of players will appreciate. It requires an appreciation for death via random number generator, patience for the grind needed to progress, and tolerance for the game's cringe-inducing attempts to titillate. There's a solid game behind those elements (and the random deaths will be a positive feature for some), but it's not for dabblers or gamers looking for a breezy or well-balanced game. I'd like to see where the developers at Kadokawa go in the future, but they'll have to call me back when they've improved their pacing and are confident enough in their product that they don't feel the need to constantly undress their characters.
Date: April 23, 2014