Demon Gaze 2, developed by Kadokawa Games and Experience Inc., and localised by NIS America is the sequel to the rather well received Demon Gaze; allowing you to recruit a number of Demons and “Demonize” them into far stronger forms, you begin your adventure through the dungeon-crawling world of Demon Gaze…
The start of Demon Gaze 2 reminded me of the Final Fantasy games of old – You’re greeted by an emergency message from a stranger, noting that someone has been abducted and they’re looking for anybody to help them and to report information. You’re then woken up by a mysterious man who takes you through a maze of pipes to try and escape. You’re quickly stopped by a girl named Peg, it turns out that she’s a demon, and she quickly kills the man (Turning him into a mystical energy known as star power). She tries to do the same to you, but you’re saved in the nick of time by an apparent friend who you don’t recognise, it’s a classic story of amnesia, but he’s more concerned about helping you escape. You try to run away but you’re soon stopped by Peg and her true form of a Centaur. You quickly dispatch her and capture her in your eye, only to be chased out by a mysterious boy, soon after you’re saved by a girl riding a giant dragon/monster thing with microphones attached to it. This is the intro to the game and the story quickly moves on from here.
You’ve obtained the ‘demon gaze’ power and people who can do this are called ‘demon gazers’ (Creative, eh!) you can essentially defeat and capture demons and use them for your own means. A man named Magnastar has been controlling the city with star power which is rife with demons, your friends want the people of the city to wake up and realise what’s going on and hope to achieve this with an illegal radio station, run from Stella’s place. Also very importantly you need to re-obtain your memories as these are your best friends (Some of whom are obviously over sexualised) who you don’t currently remember!
Essentially there are areas all around where you have to go and defeat the demons, this then gives you star power which your friends can use to gain more influence on their radio station and overthrow the evil Magnastar. This is all measured by how many listeners you have and how much star power you have, the further you progress the higher these go.
You get shown around your base of operations which is a kind of mansion (Reminded me of Xavier’s home for the gifted…) where all your friends reside and run the radio station. There are various rooms such as a tavern, bedroom, demon barracks and so on, each room fulfils a different gaming need like buying equipment, reviving your party, changing your image and so on.
Although the story isn’t awful and the amnesia element is used and told well I found myself skipping a lot of the dialogue as I just wanted to go out and farm equipment, honestly…
As I’ve mentioned there are various ways to change equipment and image etc. You start the game by creating your character, you can choose an alignment – Good (Defensive), neutral (Balanced), Evil (Attacking), I chose Evil this time round, as that offensive playstyle suited me a bit better than the others. You can then choose your starting skills, voice (Although despite having a choice of 30, it’s rarely used) and a name.
Every other party character (And you) can change all sorts of equipment as well even down to the type of weapon they use. There are even different layers of armour. It’s important to check what all of your characters are equipped with and what skills they have as this will help you in battle, you can also equip artefacts which give you new abilities/special attacks.
The actual combat itself isn’t that enjoyable, you can choose to press x and choose to attack, defend or use a skill such as heal etc. (you obtain items that can be used as additional attacks also) or use your demon’s special ability. As you play and fight you build up a star power meter, essentially your MP, when this is full your demon can ‘demonize’ (Again creative) and possess it’s true form, which raises it’s stats and attack power. However i often found using the quick battle by pressing triangle and getting through the fights as quickly as possible. You have got options with how you fight as you can choose to have forward and back attackers (Close combat and ranged) and then equip them accordingly, choosing their skills around this.
The real fun for me was more in the equipment farming. Each area has 5 demon circles, you must destroy each of these circles and the demons in it to draw out the demon’s lair (The ultimate circle) here you go to fight the boss who you then turn to fight for you. However demon circles have to be opened with gems, each gem makes the demon drop a different type of item (Armour, weapons, furniture). As you explore the map you find these gems and fight demons along the way.
The exploration is pretty fun, despite the setting being a little underwhelming. You can only move forward, back, strafe left or right and turn 90 degrees, there’s no fluid movement in the game, which actually works for this dungeon sprawler which feels like it could have been created on graph paper. There are certain areas you can only enter if you have a particular demon with you or if you have a certain key. You constantly track where you go with a map and you can choose to auto walk to somewhere you’ve already been, handy when going back across the map. Whilst exploring you come across various markers which allow you to do side quests and grab items and fight demons.
Although the battle isn’t particularly mind blowing or the movement complex at all, the gameplay and ideas surrounding this make the game much more enjoyable than i first thought they’d be.
I’ve touched on the graphics a couple of times already. Basically it’s not good, a lot of the time I was reminded of a Yu-Gi-Oh game I had on the Playstation One; The ‘animation’ is entirely compromised of 2D models and sprites, with the occasional eye movement or animated symbol above their head, often feeling like a manga or visual novel rather than a moving, breathing video game. Even the areas are skinned with prehistoric graphics and the floating icons look like they belong in Runescape. The drawings and character portraits themselves however are charming and the enemy character models are nice to look at, if a bit static at times. You can choose what you and your party look like however this is pointless as you never see them, you’ve always stuck in a first person view. A lot of JRPGs seem to choose this cop out way of animating their games and i’m not quite sure why. It’s not like it doesn’t work but these days graphics are so important and if a little more time had been spent on the environments, movement, markers it would make the overall experience more enjoyable.
Overall all you’re doing is travelling to different areas doing the same sort of thing over and over, capturing demons and obtaining star power, to then take on the next more powerful demon. Although some of the graphics and gameplay don’t help it it’s not a bad game.
I had never played a Demon Gaze game before and totally didn’t know what to expect when I put the game on; I didn’t even know that it’s essentially a 2D dungeon crawling JRPG focused around strategy fighting and turn based combat! I’ve come out of the game pleasantly surprised and it will definitely be something I’ll play to the end, mainly when I’ve got nothing else to play.
Despite having hardly any animation and a seemingly low overall budget (Often feeling like a ps2 game to me) there’s a certain charm to this game… I give it a 6.5/10