Not being able to choose if you’re a male or a female really sets the tone for what kind of game you’re in for with Demon Gaze, while it’s doffing convention for nonsensical design decisions, obtuse narrative ideas, and grinding for days. It’s a gutsy move on NIS America’s part to greenlight Kadokawa Games’ strange RPG experiment for localization, as that sort of thing always comes with the fear of losing something in the translation.
And while the end result puts up an admirable fight to hold your attention long enough to make a favorable impression, in the end you’ll be moving on to something considerably more palatable.
You are the Demon Gazer, your typical amnesiac hero tasked with felling ten rogue demons before the harrowing awakening of Sol, the one demon to rule them all. While cohabitating with glorified bounty hunters in a mysterious inn, you’ll raid dungeon after dungeon to give each of the main demons a time-out for being naughty. There’s plenty of loot to speak of as well, so if your real-life reasons for questing are less than noble, the grind for goodies and experience should quench your thirst for the tangible.
You’ll have to excavate several dungeons via first-person view, which looks and feels quite wonky, especially given the Vita’s analog stick to use for navigation. The terrain types do vary, but lend a claustrophobic feel to maps you should be able to see more of at a time. Random battles are far more plentiful than they should be, but some encounters are actually optional. You’ll still be forced to face off against baddies, but some demons are indicated by colored icons on your map. Unfortunately, if the icons happen to cross the path you need to take to advance, you’re stuck sitting through a battle you may or may not be ready for, which is endlessly annoying if your party isn’t fighting fit nearing the end of a specific dungeon.
Demon Gates await you at the end of each dungeon, serving up boss battles that up the ante considerably. You’re simply forced to grind nonstop in order to stand a chance against these behemoths, so if that’s not been in the cards for you during the length of your dungeon trolling, prepare to die over and over again. Captured demons, which you summon into battle one at a time, can alleviate the staggered difficulty of each Gate boss, but not by much.
In fact, they can hinder your ability to conquer the Big Bads by a wide margin. If you allow a demon to fight too long and deplete an on-screen gauge before recalling it, you’ll have to fight it as well. Sometimes, it’s too much to handle, a bizarre amalgam of grinding and ridiculously tough battles, and this will undoubtedly turn those looking for a more traditional JRPG off.
Sometimes you just need to head back to the Inn, which acts as your main base of operations. Once there, you’ll purchase additional weapons and equipment, edit the look of your party members (which doesn’t matter in the slightest), and do a bit of interior decorating. Purchasing furniture for your party members increases specific attributes, but maintaining a living space isn’t without its own challenges. Each time you return to regroup, you pay rent for you and your party members, which can be frustrating in the game’s early grind for gold.
You can also accept quests at the Inn, but the game does an abysmal job of explaining what you need to do or why you need to do it in order to clear the condition set for each quest. There’s so little direction that you’re simply left to your own devices. For example, a good portion of early quests cannot be completed until you progress further. How are you to
know this? Well, you aren’t. Good luck trying to figure that out on your own, though.
Don’t bother making sense out of the forgettable narrative, either. Since your character is arguably throwaway (and always male, despite decisions made at the beginning of the game) it’s tough to become attached to anyone or anything, leading you to question why it is you’re so chained to the grind. Why do you persevere, and for what? In the end, you may find yourself staying only for the boss battles, which require far more work than their eventual payoff.
So go. Create your character, select a class, choose a voice, and customize your avatar, but just know what you’re getting into. Welcome to the life of a Demon Gazer. Welcome to mediocrity.
Plunging headfirst into a brand new RPG like Demon Gaze is always a breath of fresh air. Things still feel so new. Character creation? Dig right in. Choose an avatar, a voice, a class, stats if applicable, and name your hero before embarking on a thrilling adventure. But wait! Right as you lock in your choices, you’re informed that, no matter which avatar or look that you choose, you’re still going to be considered male while playing. Say what?
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