I don’t have a problem with long games, but I do have a problem with games that don’t respect my time. Demon Gaze II didn’t respect my time, which makes it hard to recommend to anyone. It took me more than forty hours to finish this lingering game and there were still things to do after the credits finished scrolling. The main problem is that while the game’s content is only enjoyable for a few hours; it lasts several dozen.
In Demon Gaze II, you play a voiceless male or female protagonist (the demon gazer) who conveniently has amnesia because plot, and are dropped into an impossible, potentially world-ending situation and asked to fix it.
“Magna-stop, I Don’t Care about the Story”
Magnastar, the antagonist, has taken over Asteria’s population with his special eye powers. It’s up to you and a team of misfits to lead a revolution, with your own special eye powers and the magic of anime-inspired song. The story is a mess of tired tropes and character stereotypes. We’ve got an overweight comic relief, the stoic girl who is oblivious to social cues, the silent protagonist with amnesia, and even the shy girl who has an obvious crush on you but is too awkward to say anything.
I could predict where most of the main plot was going and some things are lazily or conveniently worked out. The few examples that I can go into without spoiling too much include a character who is keeping information from you only to turn on you and the saving of a character’s life with an explanation that is never even hinted at.
I found many of the characters to be charming, but ultimately expendable and lacking depth. Several of the main characters added almost nothing to the story by the end. Toma and Cassel, who are heavily involved in the plot, could have been removed and I wouldn’t even have noticed or cared. There wasn’t really any meaningful character development because most of the characters were one-dimensional holograms that never changed; all they did was flicker. I don’t think I cared about a single character, which is problematic for a game that drowns you in so much character dialogue and interaction. As much as I wanted to want to root for the cast, they just didn’t interest me enough.
There are plenty of other games, like Persona 4, where I couldn’t wait to see what the characters would say or do and it kept me playing even more than the gameplay did. In Demon Gaze II, I wondered when the characters would shut their mouths and stop wasting my time. So much of the writing was fluff and actually took away from the story.
Gameplay-wise Demon Gaze II is a Japanese RPG, or more specifically, a turn based, first-person dungeon crawler. You wander around dungeons on a four-directional grid and have randomized encounters with monsters which you defeat for items and experience points. It’s pretty straightforward, but it works well enough. Each square on the map gets discovered when you step on it and registers itself on your dungeon map. Dungeons are moderately sized and encounters with monsters aren’t too tedious. Fighting monsters only becomes unbearable once you realize that you’re going to spend hours in each of these dungeons.
Almost every dungeon makes you kick solid walls to find hidden doors to new areas, but the game doesn’t always tell you or even hint at having to do this. Some maps have four main areas to explore, but only one of these four areas has you kick walls and you aren’t told which ones. Oh, and guess what? You aren’t told that you’re supposed to do this in some of the dungeons, but it’s necessary in order to progress the story. I spent at least two hours in one particular dungeon kicking every single wall because I couldn’t find that one hidden door I had missed.
Battles are turn based and allow up to five party members at a time. Each character takes a turn to attack, heal, or use items. The “demonize” system changes the forms of your party of demons, making them stronger as the gauge decreases every turn. This gauge increases as you progress through the game and recruit demons with new abilities. Near the end of the game, you can even fuse yourself with one demon at a time to strike underwhelming terror into your enemies’ hearts.
The battle system is interesting and challenging, but soon becomes a chore once you’ve gone through a few hundred fights. You can pick attacks for your party one character at a time and then press triangle to skip through the sequence to save time. After a few hours, I lowered the difficulty to the easiest setting and just used quick battle to skip through fights as quickly as I could because I was so bored. Battles turned into rapidly pressing triangle just so I could get through them and gain the necessary experience to beat the game. I usually enjoy optional and even mandatory grinding in Japanese RPGs, but Demon Gaze II makes you roll your eyes with frustration.
Probably the strongest part of this game is the music. Some of the songs are phenomenal and bring my emotions up a few notches. Unfortunately, some of these songs get reused so often that you become sick of them.
The graphics are mainly made up of illustrated backdrops and character stills. The art direction is pretty good, but there are inconsistencies between the demons’ standard forms and their powered-up forms. Several characters and monsters clash and seem like they belong in multiple games. The 3D graphics used in the dungeons are pretty bad and look like upscaled PlayStation 2 visuals. Most of the game comes across as an inconsistent visual novel.
I wanted to like Demon Gaze II, but I felt like it was trying to do everything it could to bore me. The story takes up a significant portion of the game but it just isn’t interesting enough to warrant the time they spend on it. The never ending grinding does nothing but inflate the game’s length. I really only enjoyed a small fraction of the game. There are dozens of great RPGs out there; don’t play this one.
I love Japanese games, but Demon Gaze II fails to deliver in almost every area. By the time the credits rolled around, I was relieved rather than satisfied. There is some good content in here, but you can only take so much of it before you’re just done.