Demon Gaze, the latest NIS America released role-playing game, was released last week as an exclusive title for the Playstation Vita. Developed by Kadokawa Games and Experience Inc, Demon Gaze takes place a thousand years after the Japan-only Students of the Round, released previously on the PSP. Experience Inc. is known primarily for their work with dungeon-crawling RPG’s, or gridders as some would say, and Demon Gaze is no exception.
Players take the role of a human named Oz and start off the game by customizing his name, voice, and character portrait. No matter how feminine of a voice you pick or even a buxom female elf portrait, you’ll always be referred to as a human male gazer throughout the story. It begs the question of why even allow the option of choice if they ultimately have no impact beyond ill-fitting cosmetics. Later party members can also be customized in a similar fashion; although the option for gender and race do have some impact, only the latter affects the game in regards to stat gains/caps as well as racial armor limitations.
As a Gazer by trade, it falls solely upon your shoulders to gaze upon demons with your illuminating blue eye and trap their souls. Only a handful of demons are of the right caliber to be prime targets of your eye, usually the head demon of a given area. After defeating them in armed combat, the Gazer needs to continuously return back to the home base and be assisted by the innkeeper Fran whose primary function is to unlock the power of captured demons and offer you their power trapped inside a key for use in later combats. That is, when she isn’t hustling you for rent money that is.
Life as a mercenary in the world of Demon Gaze isn’t cheap and there’s no exception for the story’s protagonist either. After every dungeon crawl or time you set foot outside of the inn walls, there’s a hard and fast rule set by Fran that one must always pay their rent upon return. That means, yes, before you can even make it to the item shop to unload your spoils of war, you must pay your rent. And like some of the worst housing markets in the world, that price of rent is going up every time you make progress or even pop outside for a leisurely stroll. Hopefully you’ve scrounged together enough G’s from fallen enemies to pay off your ever increasing rent for fear of running a tab and going into debt with the rather scornful innkeeper.
Demon Gaze falls into a sub-genre of role-playing game known as grid, referring to the square-based map making. Unlike similar games in the genre such as Etrian Odyssey, Demon Gaze does all of the hard work of cartography for you. Enemy portals, trap floors, one-way doors, et cetera are all diligently charted for the player. This is but one of many small conveniences that the game offers to help expedite the dungeon crawling experience and keep players moving. Very few puzzles and gimmicks persist throughout the handful of dungeons in Demon Gaze and none are particularly challenging. Usually when there’s a door locked with a switch, that switch is in clear view. Only some subquests and collectible items aren’t in clear sight but a diligent explorer can typically find them by tackling the map one grid at a time. One of the demons you recruit early on (Comet) assists greatly with this by illuminating most of the these items from afar.Demon Gaze (PS Vita) Review,