Reminding you that the word "titillation" sounds like "titties."
First-person JRPG Demon Gaze
has no pretensions about what it is. After the stereotypical amnesiac hero awakens in a dungeon, he is aided by a melon-mammaried woman, Lanceloma (or just Loma for short), with a white eyepatch who helps him fight a demon (who looks like a really pissed off furry) who upon being bested transforms into a spritely ten-year-old-looking witch on a broom, whom you can summon in later combats.
Shortly thereafter, the hero is accosted by Fran, the busty manager of the inn you are staying at while you hunt demons (did I mention the eyepatch girl tells you you're supposed to hunt demons because of your innate abilities as a "Demon Gazer"?). Fran extorts money from you to house your teammates before you go down into the basement to meet the character who can revive your dead party members, Prometh, another hypersexed prepubescent who sleeps in a coffin wearing a two-piece swimsuit.
is, from an artistic standpoint, a lot of what is unabashedly creepy in Japanese pop-culture equating a world so moe
it would make Lolita
protagonist Humbert Humbert's top list of games needed immediately to satisfy his nymphette obsession.
Navigating the game's first-person dungeons with WiFi activated allows you to collect memos left behind by other players, which makes it clear that I am not the game's target demographic, as half of them are about the state of sexual arousal they have for Fran, Lorna, and Prometh. The other half, though, are used to warn other players of upcoming traps, strong enemies, or hidden doors that can be kicked down, a useful element borrowed from games like Dark Souls
that can help or grief the player. Gameplay throughout is mostly spent in these dungeons, and mostly grinding through the game's turn-based battles.
While you gain experience for defeating enemies from random battles in the dungeons, it feels like the emphasis is driven more by demon gates, areas with glyphs hanging in the air where you offer up gems collected from combat to fight a random battle and claim the gate to force a larger demon into combat (so you can collect its soul to be summoned for later battles). In addition to experience from random battles in a dungeon, there are more challenging battles indicated by monster-related glyphs, red for slightly challenging and purple for midbosses.
These battles usually yield gems and up to three gems can be placed on demon gates to win equipment in the form of loot that can be either equipped or sold. These equipment upgrades, combined with the experience needed, make the game a cycle of grinding through enemies to get to gems, which you put on the demon gates, to sell the loot so you can fight more challenging monsters further in the dungeon, to get their gems, to put them on demon gates... until it all begins to seem a bit like chasing rainbows
There are optional quests found at the Inn, most of which can be completed simply by completely exploring the environments. The story is told in a visual-novel style with scenes that offer "insights" into the characters, like grudges and panties.... Yep, that's the kind of thing that passes
for character development in Demon Gaze
and introduces elements that are somewhere between a dating sim and an eroge (but without explicit sex). Everything is sort of hammed up and highly sexualized, like an anime "harem" show (a la Love Hina
, etc). So if that sort of thing is what you've been waiting for in an imported JRPG, this is the game for you.
There's supposed to be a lot of customization in the game, with your character appearance and voice being open to change at any point and the ability to choose each of your four companions' races, classes, and one of many character designs. This ends up a bit of a smokescreen. While choosing the main character's attributes, you are informed that no matter what, your character is male, even among a multitude of super-deformed anime ladies of varying bust sizes and cuteness levels, all in hypersexual poses for you to choose from. Since you can basically slap any character design available on whatever attributes, the only real customization of consequence you have ends up being which class you choose for your hero (Paladin, Healer, Wizard, etc) and which race (Elves, Humans, and various other non-standard words for Dwarves, Hobbits, and Cat People) which changes baseline stats.
The dungeons force the player to move on a grid that is easier to navigate by looking at the map than at the screen since the controls are oddly reversed, with where you look mapped to the left stick and strafing mapped to the right stick. Battles include sprite-based enemies who don't move or do much other than change whether they are in front or behind each other, adding to the game's tactical mechanics though this feels poorly utilized. The game is best when it is pandering to the lowest common denominator of sexualized characters over painted backdrops, goofily sexing each other up.
Make no mistake, the bulk of the game is grinding
with very little emphasis on plot. This has a certain odd satisfaction to it, though the game is obsessed with a kind of puerile masculine sexuality. In gameplay, it has the strange traditionally hardcore lineage of dungeon crawlers, but feels immensely like a casual game in that it's broken into repetitive bite-size chunks. It's the kind of game I might play while waiting at the DMV, or in line for a burrito, where I don't want to invest too much time in actually processing a lot of information or thinking too much. It's fantastic for passing time, but beyond that it may not offer much for players who want any more depth.
While elements are bland and the story feels heavily padded, to say that Demon Gaze
feels half-assed would assume that it's trying to be more than it is, a grindfest that rewards players with 2D titillation and innuendo. It does what it does fairly well, but it's also profoundly average. Nothing is ventured and nothing gained in any part of its design.
Code provided by publisher. Exclusive to PlayStation Vita.