Do you know about the concept of the “Gaze”? It’s a popular philosophical notion whose origins I don’t want to delve too deeply into but is commonly associated with the newer term of the “Male Gaze”. Basically, it’s a power dynamic that gives or takes power from an individual depending on whether they are on the giving or receiving end of this “Gaze”. I bring this up because the new dungeon-crawler Demon Gaze actively gives you a power in which your sight can capture and tame demonic beings. And on a meta level, perhaps comment on the gaze the players will be giving the copious amounts of female characters showing skin. Too much, too little, that’s up to you.
Demon Gaze is a dungeon-crawler, a subgenre of games with their biggest claim to fame being that they are ridiculously hardcore, even in an age where the most prominent RPG series have become more action-oriented. It’s a fact that comes as a relief to veterans and a bit intimidating for new players. In my opinion, it’s just a misunderstanding when something done “traditionally” becomes instantly associated with “more difficult”. In the case of Demon Gaze, however, a slew of interesting and fun mechanics alleviate the difficulty while maintaining some reliance on grinding.
Demon Gaze has you take on the role of Oz, an amnesiac hero who wakes up in a dungeon running away from his first demon. After her [the demon’s] defeat, Oz learns to use his power of the “Demon Gaze” to capture her and turn her into an ally. While this demon doesn’t join your party, you can summon her during combat almost like a Pokemon where she has free movement to either attack, guard, or heal. Additionally, the demon is put on a timer for how many turns she can stay on the battlefield without turning hostile again. If it gets too close to the wire, you have to summon her back so that she doesn’t start attacking you and your party.
Speaking of which, your party is still critically important. Filled with either healers, ranged units, and frontline heavies, it’s very standard stuff when recruiting your party whom you hire through the influence of cold hard cash. In fact, you’ll quickly realize how important money factors into Demon Gaze.
See, the story doesn’t center around a destined hero or anything like that. Instead, it plays out much like a slice-of-life series where you stay at a large inn which acts as a hub for your activities and mini-town. Everytime you return from treasure hunting you must pay the inn keeper a certain amount of cash. If you want to hire more party members, you have to first rent a room for them which has its own fees and then the hiring fee. The costs adds up so you best be accepting quests posted for the mercenaries in the dining hall.
More than the gameplay, I really like the overall tone of the game. I mentioned previously it feels more like a slice-of-life anime, and that probably has to do with the fact that everyone lives together in an inn. Still, there’s no denying that the cast of characters and the lax mission structure makes standard character interaction more enjoyable. Sure, you could start hunting the remaining demons (the ultimate goal of the game), but first you should build up your party, and that takes some grinding, so it’s best to relax in between boss fights.
A couple notes about the presentation: I really like the overall visual style of the game and the graphics look crisp on the Vita’s screen. The character designs all sort of pander to fanservice, however, and the appeal really depends on your preference for that sort of thing. Personally, I’m a fan, I like service, fanservice is alright by me.
Now, as for the music, I couldn’t place it at first but it hit me around the first dungeon; the soundtrack is sung by a Vocaloid. I had to look it up, but it seems that there are tracks starring the voice program IA. I didn’t really expect it going in so it was sort of a shock when I kept hearing the heavily synthesized voice play during battles. Eventually, it grew on me and the music has been consistently strong throughout the game.
Demon Gaze is a good game, and a great introductory series into the Dungeon Crawling genre. Its mix of new and old mechanics work perfectly well to deliver genre veterans a refreshing new adventure while newcomers will appreciate the ease of entry. Those in it for visual appreciation will find a lot to like here as well, and the music is consistently catchy. I really liked Demon Gaze a lot, a lot more than I thought I would, and it makes for an excellent RPG for the Vita system.
[+Accessible][+New mechanics are fun and interesting][+Looks great][+Fantastic character design][+Voice acting is pretty great][+Catchy music][-Fanservice a bit heavy][-Controls take some getting used to]