Demon Gaze II starts off by making you feel like you're playing a novel. There is an intense amount of story laid out right from the start, and you can spend some time clicking through conversations upon conversations that not only teach you about gameplay, but also let you know that you have no idea who you, or they, are.
Which is where you begin. Someone with amnesia that has somehow obtained the Demon Gaze, a power that collects the souls of demons once you defeat them... in your eye. Your demon-collecting eye. You meet a party of friends who know you, even though you don't remember them. You can name your character yourself after selecting what you want your character to look like, and thereafter it is your duty to help rid the world of demons.
After you learn that you can summon the demons you absorb, the main story of the game is revealed. The group who have befriended you are called the Revolutionist Party. They are fighting against an overlord called Magnastar who is attempting to take Asteria's citizens with power and demons. And guess what... you are going to save them.
The story plays out like many animes out there, and is presented visually and audibly in great anime style too. You know those Dragonball Z moments that span over a few episodes, the DBZ hero chatting the villain up about how he is going to defeat him before we get to the actual fight? Yeah, welcome to the world of anime. The conversations can really drag on sometimes, and you'll be clicking through it for some time before you get into any action.
Having said that, the graphics, sounds and anime atmosphere are all gorgeous to behold, hear and take in. It doesn't hurt going through all the chats in Demon Gaze II, since every element of this game is very beautiful and appealing. The artists did a great job of bringing this to screen and giving such depth to each character. This game could easily be converted to a comic series and have the same feel about it.
I'm not going to ruin the entire story for you, but there's enough in there to keep you interested. Yes, it may be drawn out and if you are angsty for some action, you may need to go through some chatter first. But they still delivered a great story that is worth retelling.
Demon Gaze II is advertised by NIS America as being a RPG dungeon crawler. In some sense I guess I would agree with that. However, I would better define it as a combination of two of my favorite game franchises: Myst and Final Fantasy. Especially when it comes to gameplay. You play in first person mode and move around dungeons and areas like you would in Myst. Pressing up moves you forward, and you have to tap up every time you want to do so. Pressing left or right on the left stick turns you in that direction with a new pre-rendered image, while pressing on the right stick lets you strafe sideways.
When it comes to combat, everything changes. You still have the scene before you, but now we move into Final Fantasy territory. And by this I mean turn-based combat. You can select to either demonize your demon, which basically powers your selected demon up into Super Saiyan mode. Or you can select relevant party members to combat the enemies or heal your buddies.
While playing Demon Gaze II, you will be doing one of three things: you will be roaming around in town and the dungeons, clearing demons and enemies; You will be returning to your hotel to deal with your hard-earned loot; Or you will be strutting your stuff in an isometrically viewed hotel between several floors chatting people up and learning more about what's going on.
The game is very easy to learn though. The controls are not difficult at all, as you simply use one button to select an action, select an enemy and to inflict the selected action on said enemy. Wash, rinse and repeat until all the enemies on screen are dealt with and you return to Myst styled street crawler. Even mechanisms to open doors are easy to obtain. Puzzles are not intense and the game makes it pretty easy to figure out what to do.
Except in the beginning, that is. If I can clarify my previous paragraph slightly, the only way you learn how to play the game are through the NPCs. When you first end up in your hotel room, you have no idea what to do. It took me several button bashing moments and staring at maps of each floor before I realized I had to select a location on the map to get there. And then when I met the main party, one of them decided to teach me how to do that. A bit delayed, but thank you. If you've played Demon Gaze I, you may be used to this. I was not.
WHAT IT COULD HAVE DONE BETTER
My only real concern was having to figure out gameplay when NPCs weren't around. As this was my first Demon Gaze title, I felt a bit lost at first. Luckily, there was a help section you could go to to figure some things out, but you have to know what you are looking for. It did a great job of making me feel silly at first. Once I got the hang of it though, it was a walk in the park. So a "Is this your first time playing Demon Gaze?" tutorial would have been great and would have enhanced the enjoyability of the start of the game for me.
There were times when my family would walk in and ask me "Are you playing a game or reading a story?", as every time they came to check the game out an NPC was talking to me. Granted, as an author I do love the dialogue and story elements. I appreciate how much work actually went into it. Yet, I felt there was more dialogue than anything else in this game, leaving me with moments wondering when I would actually get a chance to play. It's hard to define what could have been done to improve this, since it is all done pretty well. Yet, more gameplay and less chatter would have gone a long way to greater enjoyment for me.
If you are a fan of turn-based fighting games like Final Fantasy, click-to-move games like Myst, and have a great love for anime and drawn-out dialogue sessions, this game will give you a massive orgasm. There is so much enjoyment to be had with the massive amount of content in this game. It won't have the same visual quality as Final Fantasy or Myst, which is on a completely different level altogether, but their anime style of art is wonderful.
If you have played Demon Gaze I and enjoyed it, you will completely be inlove with this game. If you are new to the series, bite down on your teeth and keep going. You will soon find an underlying addictiveness to this game that's hard to pin down, and you will be losing many hours building your characters up and fighting your way to the end.
However, if you've never played Demon Gaze I, or never enjoyed turn-based fighting or click-to-move, or if you're turned off by reading too much or too much dialogue... run. Run now and don't look back.