REVIEW: Demon Gaze II

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

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Demon Gaze II | Demon Dimensions

The Demon Dimensions feature puzzles that the boss hides behind.

By defeating all the Demon Circles in a dungeon you open up the Demon Dimension for the Demon that is controlling that particular dungeon (or section of the dungeon). Once you enter that Dimension you will need to solve a puzzle in order to make the boss appear. Most of them were not too bad, but there were a couple that were tricky (like the one above). A couple of the more interesting puzzles were music based which might seem strange on the surface, but it actually was very much in keeping with the story theme of the game. But even if you are not musically inclined, you should be able to work it out (however an intimate knowledge of The Sound of Music will go a long way). One of my largest criticisms of this game is that these Demon Dimensions are really the only parts of the dungeon crawling that are at all innovative. In fact, it was a bit of a step back when compared to Stranger of Sword City. Even though both of these games were made for the Vita and for modern consoles, the dungeon crawling looks and behaves more old school in this title than it did in Stranger. Another step backward for the series is that even though you could leave notes in the dungeon for other people to find while connected to PSN, that feature was cut in this version. To balance this out, maps drop far more frequently (which show the location of hidden objects), but it was still a bit sad that the feature didn’t continue.

Demon Gaze II | Demon Design

Some of the demon designs are pretty bad.

My other largest complaint is that some of the demon designs are pretty horrible, looking like a high school kid drew them instead of a professional game designer. Not all the demons are equally as bad, but when you compare it to the art designs of the monsters it is particularly noticeable. Added into this game is the dating mechanic with demons, and included with that is some minor touch mechanics, called Maintenance,┬áthat are fairly similar to other genre games such as Moe Chronicle and Mary Skelter: Nightmares (only with no clothing removal). Unfortunately so many of the demons look unappealing that this addition has some of its enjoyment hindered. An interesting difference between male and female demons during Maintenance is that the best place to touch females are on erogenous zones and the best place to touch males are on whatever weapons or armor they most value. That could potentially offend some gamers, but it’s a choice that the developers made. Also, while the interactions with male demons are still called “dates”, it is only ever friendship and getting to know them. It’s unsurprising that the story is strictly heterosexual regardless of any choices you make. But it’s not a huge deal, dating the demons is mostly just to gain higher loyalty and unlock new demonize skills. A bonus aspect to a fully loyal demon is that the new fusion system will be much more effective with that demon.

Demon Gaze II | Demon Fusion

Demon designs may not be great, but they spared no expense on Fusion animations.

About halfway through the main story you gain the ability to Fuse with your demons. And while the demon art designs were lackluster, they spared no expense on fully animating the Demon Fusion scenes. The screenshot you see above is the end of a short (about 10-20 seconds) animated scene that changes depending on the demon that you fuse with. Unfortunately while working on this review I really did not have the time to check out every demon fusion in the game, I only was able to use it for the first 4 demons (which I kept in my party for the entire game), but it was different for each of them. While fused with a demon it basically pauses the battle and the enemies and your own allies cannot do anything but watch as your new form just attacks the enemy with impunity. The number of rounds it lasts depends on the loyalty level of that demon with the Gazer along with a passive skill that can add a bonus round (up to a total of 9 rounds). The only disadvantages to Fusion is that Skills no longer use Spell Points, they use Star Power (and are therefore much more limited in the number of times you can use them), and the fact that when your Fusion round limit is up, your Star Power drops all the way to zero and that fused demon cannot do anything else for the rest of the battle due to exhaustion. As such, I would strongly recommend that you only use Fusion at the end of a boss fight or in a dire emergency.

Demon Gaze II | Muse

Muse has quite the bold personality, and might even be a villain in a different situation.

As I said earlier, they doubled down on the story elements in this game, even more than there was in the first Demon Gaze. Also this time it is strongly focused on music and a radio show in particular. You are part of a Revolutionist Party that seeks to reverse the brainwashing of people from a tyrant ruler. You weren’t always a Demon Gazer, you were kidnapped and then experimented on in order to bring that out in you. It isn’t until the very end of the game until you find out why that was done to you in the first place. But ostensibly it at least gives your friends the power that they needed in order to engage in a fair fight with the tyrant that has a boot to their throat. Because there is such a strong emphasis on story and music I can happily say that the voice acting and music are both much better in this game than both previous Experience titles, so that is one area where they really did progress. The demon voices are quite variable and not all of them are great in English (although the game does also come with the Japanese voices), but all the main characters are really well done. And the songs that are featured throughout many major story points are extremely well done, even if they do remain in Japanese (as you would expect for genuine songs).

Demon Gaze II | Prometh

Prometh is back, and as unconcerned as ever with modesty.

Even though all the events of this game take place in one city, there is every indication that it’s still in the same world as the previous game. In fact, three prominent members of the gang in the first game have all made it into the sequel. It is a little strange how they found their way directly to a second person with the Demon Gazer power, but that is obliquely addressed by the characters themselves (particularly Prometh). Unfortunately, not everything you want to know about the world will be addressed in this game even with the story focus. In fact, not even everything about this city will be, let alone the world. My last real complaint about this game is that it is actually rather short for a dungeon crawler RPG at around 30 hours for the main story. I defeated all the optional demons as well up to the point of the end credits, but even then I was about 35 hours on my game clock. Granted, there is a ton of post game content that you could potentially go into, but that is far less story focused and more about straight up grinding. You can complete the game at around level 30-40, but there are many skills that don’t unlock until long after those levels. And there are new demons to find and higher classes of equipment to gain. So even if the story itself is a little short, at least there is the dungeon crawling content you would hope for in the post game for those who are old school genre fans.

Demon Gaze II | Difficulty

Beware the spikes in difficulty, especially underwater where you cannot use magic.

In some ways this game was a step forward and in others it was a step back, but either way they definitely defined what this series will be going forward. And it should be very clear that even though I wasn’t totally on board with some things, I definitely want to see more from Demon Gaze. There were enough innovations to make this feel like a real sequel, and even if 30 hours is short on the story side, there is enough content to double that playtime if you want to see and do everything. They did fix some of the spikes in difficulty but you are still going to need to be careful, but at least this time they put in 5 different difficulty levels that you can go to Prometh to change any time you aren’t in a dungeon. So really, even if you never played the first game, this would still be a good jumping on point for people new to the series or even new to dungeon crawler RPGs. Demon Gaze II certainly justifies its $49.99 price tag, and while it’s not groundbreaking graphically on the PS4 it’s still great to have the option to play handheld or on your large television. For the future I would like to see better balanced combat, like with the Etrian Odyssey series, but for making a compelling story in a dungeon crawler, few developers can compare to Experience.

Review Score

Review Copy Provided By The Publisher

About William Haderlie

Born in the 1970's, I've been an avid participant for much of video game history. A lifetime of being the sort of supergeek entrenched in the sciences and mathematics has not curbed my appreciation for the artistry of video games, cinema, and especially literature.

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