I awoke in a basement. I was alone. When I got up to move, I found a soldier. He was fearful, disturbed. He asked what I was doing there, if I was already, and promised me we’d escape to safety together. A few steps forward and he was gone. Some unknown creature or beast had attacked him. I was alone.
So, I did what anyone would do. I pushed forward. I explored the area, getting a first person view of my surroundings. I automatically compiled a map in my head, knowing where I had gone and what areas remained uncharted. I collected some items, explored bindings used to hold some kind of demon, and dealt with the creature that killed the soldier secondhand. It toyed with me as I attempted to leave the basement, closing one door while opening another, then doing it again.
Finally, I escaped and found myself face to face with a woman with an eyepatch. She said her name was Lorna, and I learned I wasn’t safe just yet. The demon from the basement had followed me up. But, I had nothing to fear. For I am Oz, master of the demon gaze. In moments, the demon was subdued. It’s rage had been quelled, I had conquered it, and my new landlady Fran soon turned it into a Demon Key. Now, I could assign Comet to my party and have her skills aid me in dungeons, or even summon her to fight alongside my party in battle.
That’s how my first 10 minutes with Demon Gaze, NIS America’s latest Vita dungeon crawler, began. Though, it wasn’t exactly how it all started. I’m just saying I was Oz for the sake of this preview. While the game will automatically assume you’re a young man, you can change your name and choose one of many different character portraits for your avatar. “He” can look like a woman, perhaps even a halfling or elf! And it can be changed at any moment at Fran’s bath house if you feel you need a change.
Demon Gaze is a turn-based RPG along the lines of Wizardry. Aside from the player character, people can create a party filled with up to 4 custom characters who will fight the good fight. However, you can’t just immediately make a full party. Fran’s house is a boarding home. You have to pay for a room to add a new party member. Aside from that initial room rental fee, more party members makes the rent you have to pay upon coming back from each dungeon crawling mission go up. So it feels like there’s a sense of balance that must be maintained, at least during this initial preview.
The boarding house is also home to other residents, all of whom fortunately offer services necessary for any adventurer. The third floor has item and equipment vendors. The first has a cafeteria with a phone that might offer calls for quests. There’s the bathhouse, which I mentioned earlier, that lets people change their look. Not to mention, a girl in the basement who sleeps in a coffin happens to be adept at bringing the mostly dead back to life. It’s the hub, and the rest of the world is filled with dungeons and danger.
The actual dungeon crawling is similar to Wizardry, Class of Heroes, Etrian Odyssey, and every RPG that prompts you to explore every nook and cranny. You enter into a 3D environment with minimal details and explore, hopefully finding treasure, event items and NPCs, and bosses. Depending on what demon you have equipped, it may even enhance your experience. The one I acquired during the introductory segment, Comet, granted me the ability to see hidden doors. Punching the highlighted spaces on the map allowed me to continue on my way. Perhaps I’d find a whole new part of the dungeon. Maybe I’d even find a summoning space that would let me sacrifice items to call up equipment for my characters. I never knew what I might find.
One thing was for sure. Dungeons are full of monsters, so there would be a fight. Battles are 2D and turn-based. Players determine each party member’s attacks and skills, lather, rinse, and repeat until the foes are dead. The element that shakes it up is the ability to equip demon keys. While I only had Comet during my first moments, multiple demons can eventually be equipped, and they can be unleashed during battles. They will then act as independent party members, acting on their own accord. So long as the link chain has numbers, they’ll only perform actions that benefit the party. However, if links in the chain run out, the demons will run wild and attack friend and foe. You have to be prudent and decide if you really should or shouldn’t let one loose.
So far, it seems like the key to succeeding in Demon Gaze is playing smart. Know when you can and can’t take chances. Of course, this is just a preview of the opening moments. Thing can, and will, change as greater challenges appear. Demon Gaze is coming to the Vita on April 22, 2014 and will cost you $39.99. Unless you want the NIS America Online Store‘s limited edition that’s $49.99 and includes a soundtrack and artbook. In the meantime, expect a full review on GamerTell next week!
Site [Demon Gaze]