Demon Gaze

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Demon Gaze is a new first-person dungeon crawler for PS Vita that features many of the same elements as Experience Inc.’s previous Japan-only release Students of the Round.

What You Need to Know

Demon Gaze places you in the role of a young man called Oz who has the power to capture demons’ souls using his magic eye. At the beginning of the game you’re rescued from an abandoned, monster-filled town and taken to the Dragon Princess Inn where you meet Demon Gaze’s central cast of characters. The inn is surrounded by dungeons that you and up to four party members can explore in order to capture new demon souls and fulfil missions for the inn’s residents.

Demon Gaze combines a visual novel presentation with first-person dungeon crawling and uses 2D art for every graphical element of the game apart from the dungeons themselves.


What’s New?

Demon Gaze features an innovative take on how you acquire allies to fight alongside you. Rather than them joining your party automatically as the story progresses, in this game you’ll need to rent rooms to accommodate extra party members which can be a costly exercise during your first five hours or so of play. Every time you return to the inn from a dungeon you’ll also need to pay rent to its manageress Fran, so making sure the number of rooms you rent doesn’t break the bank is a delicate balancing act.

Another interesting gameplay feature in Demon Gaze are magic circles that can be found spread around the dungeons you explore. You can place up to three gems on one of these circles and then initiate a battle where the victory rewards correspond to the type of gems you placed. For example, if you placed a Sword Gem, Shield Gem and Helm Gem on the circle then you’re guaranteed to be rewarded with a random sword, shield and helm once you win the battle. Winning a battle initiated by placing gems on these circles also allows you to control them once the fight is won, and once all the circles in a dungeon are under your control you can face its demon boss. Defeating this boss then allows you to summon it during future battles which is a very handy option to have since demons have powerful offensive and defensive abilities that can mean the difference between winning or losing tough encounters.


What’s the Same?

Although I’m new to the wonderful world of first-person dungeon crawlers, many elements of Demon Gaze felt at least partially similar to other RPGs I’ve played. The game’s Gazer Memo system is very similar to the helpful or misleading messages you can leave on the ground for other players in From Software’s Souls series, while the layout and navigation of the Dragon Princess Inn reminded me of the student digs in Persona 3 Portable.

Other RPG elements such as being able to use unwanted equipment to upgrade your chosen weapons or armour, and being able to position your party members in the front or back row based on their equipped weapon and role also make an appearance in Demon Gaze.

You’ll Enjoy Demon Gaze If You Liked…

… The Monster Hunter series. Demon Gaze may not have multiplayer support but its quest system and vast variety of weapons, armour and accessories reminded me very much of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on Wii U.

… Final Fantasy VI. If you’re a fan of the fairly static 2D graphical presentation during battles in FFVI then the enemy encounters in Demon Gaze should prove similarly satisfying from a visual perspective.


What I Liked

– 5.) The game features dual English/Japanese audio that you can switch between at any time. I got the impression that more lines of dialogue were recorded in Japanese but it’s impossible to tell without having two copies of the game running side by side.

– 4.) Demon Gaze’s 2D visuals are not only beautiful to look at but also appear to be using the PS Vita’s full resolution which is something of a rarity for RPGs developed for the handheld.

– 3.) I’m accustomed to dungeon crawlers being brutally difficult but Demon Gaze lets you choose between four different difficulty levels whenever you return to the Dragon Princess Inn. This is a great feature for those players who just want to enjoy the story and get through the dungeons with the minimum effort possible.

– 2.) The game’s dungeons include an auto-move feature that allows you to quickly navigate to any of the blocks on the map that you’ve previously visited.

– 1.) One of the many quirky features in Demon Gaze is being able to change the appearance of your main character or his party members by taking a bath. There are forty-five different ‘looks’ to choose between ranging from practical, sexy to outrageous, and all these character portraits are designed with a flair that sets the game apart in a crowded market.

Favourite Moment

The first time I discovered that magic circles could be used to obtain the equipment type of your choice (provided you have the corresponding gem) was something of a revelation to me. One of my favourite aspects of RPGs is visiting a new town’s weapon shop and perusing their wares, so being able to gain new equipment at every unactivated magic circle in a dungeon made my quest to discover new gems and circles all the more urgent!


What I Didn’t Like

– 4.) If you’re not a fan of seeing underage girls in their underwear or the ‘pervy’ jokes associated with certain Japanese games then some of Demon Gaze’s more risqué content may offend you.

– 3.) The game’s angular, maze-like dungeons are very bland to look at and are in stark contrast to its vivid and well-drawn 2D visuals.

– 2.) Demon Gaze’s battles have a low-budget quality to them since there are no real animations associated with combat and you never get to see the weapons, armour or accessories you’ve equipped your party members with.

– 1.) Speaking of combat, when you’re battling lower level enemies there’s no real hook or gameplay systems that make fighting fun. You can literally just keep on tapping the X button to make your party members attack (or hold down Triangle) and the battle will be over in a few seconds.

Least Favourite Moment

The first time I died and was unceremoniously booted back to Demon Gaze’s start screen was a big wake up call that you need to save often if you don’t want to lose valuable progress. Thankfully you can save at any controlled magic circle while dungeon crawling so there’s no valid reason to begrudge the game’s lack of checkpoints.

What’s Extra?

You can show off your characters’ stats and equipment loadouts to other players in your vicinity via Near, and naturally getting the Platinum Trophy for Demon Gaze and unlocking its most powerful demons and equipment will take some doing. There are also many conversation sequences that take place in the Dragon Princess Inn where you’re presented with multiple dialogue choices, so going back and seeing how these conversations play out differently depending on your choices is also something you can dabble in when you’ve completed the main quest.

The Bottom Line

Demon Gaze may seem like a lightweight RPG on the surface but once you’ve got to grips with its intelligently interconnected gameplay systems you’ll find a deep and enjoyable dungeon crawler with a distinctive art style and sense of humour.

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