Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Kadokawa Games/Experience Inc.
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
On paper, there are all kinds of reasons why I should hate Demon Gaze. It's a first-person dungeon crawler, and I've never been huge on first-person games (navigating around makes me feel discombobulated). The only way you can move around efficiently is with your d-pad, even though you're walking around in a fully 3D world, and you'd think that such a setting would be ideal for making use of the PS Vita's twin thumbsticks. It's full of female characters who are simultaneously very young-looking and incredibly well-endowed (which, of course, necessitates highly impractical boob armour). The battles aren't just turn-based (which isn't inherently a bad thing, as games like Conception II and the Atelier series have taught me), they also seem to drag on forever, even when you're facing the most basic opponents on the easiest difficulty settings. Basically, if you were to take every game ingredient I hate and blend them all together, you'd wind up with something like Demon Gaze.
And yet…the end product isn't something I dislike. I mean, it's not going to wind up on my year-end GOTY list or anything, but at the same time, I'm confident that it won't be anywhere close to being the worst game I play in 2014.
That's hardly the most ringing endorsement, I know, but Demon Gaze isn't a game that deserves a one of those. Even setting aside my personal gaming preferences, I think it's fair to criticize the game for the fact that moving around is a chore, and for combat that has absolutely zero flow to it. Throw in those aforementioned issues that offend my delicate sensibilities, and you can see why I'd be hesitant to recommend it.
That said, it has a few points in its favour. Even if I'm not crazy about how some specific characters are presented (witness, for example, a scene early on where you encounter a female character, and she's in her skimpy underwear for no reason whatsoever), the game as a whole looks pretty nice. The colours are vibrant, the backgrounds have great detail, and taken as a whole it's all pretty visually appealing. Similarly, even if the characters may not look particularly deep, the dialogue flows surprisingly well and the story as a whole is decently engaging, even if it's just your standard story about an amnesiac hero with a mysterious past fighting demons.
I'm not sure, however, that some pretty graphics and an okay story are enough to make Demon Gaze worth picking up. I suppose if you're a fan of dungeon crawlers that feel like Doom coupled with slow-moving turn-based action, then there might be something here worth your time, but otherwise? You're probably better off just getting Conception II.