Finally, there's a sequel to 2014's highly underrated dungeon crawling masterpiece. Although Demon Gaze II doesn't reinvent the classic formula, does it at least live up to its predecessor?
Before I start this review, I should mention that the original Demon Gaze is one of my favourite games of all time. I'm a huge fan of first-person grid-based dungeon crawlers and that game blew my mind by how addictive it is. Now that I played the sequel, I must admit that I'm mildly disappointed but still happy to see the underrated dungeon crawler turn into a series.
For starters, the familiar dynamic of travelling to various dungeons while battling foes and gathering a wealth of treasure then returning home to enhance your party is as addictive as it was in the first game. Nifty mechanics such as placing furniture to provide stat boosts and extracting ether from unneeded items to enhance equipment have fittingly carried over to this new adventure. Demon Gaze II's primary gameplay addition is the fact that demons now join your party as opposed to merely being assist characters. This is handled well in that it's enjoyable to watch them grow and you can even form relationships with them via a mini-game and a dating sim aspect.
Demon Gaze II's story is a big departure from the first installment. Basically, you and a ragtag group of revolutionists are planning on overthrowing a tyrannical regime. Some of the characters run a pirate radio station where they broadcast both information and lovely songs to inspire the masses. If you played the first game, you'll even recognize a few of the characters although I'm not 100% sure if that's just in name only because Demon Gaze II seems to take place in an entirely different universe than the first game. Overall, the cast of characters and innovative story premise are intriguing enough to keep any genre fan hooked.
Although this all sounds fresh and exciting, I found the world in Demon Gaze II to be a lot less enjoyable than the one in the first game. The original Demon Gaze featured plenty of cheeky humour, off-the-wall characters, and a gorgeous soundtrack full of catchy vocal tracks. Demon Gaze II definitely feels sterilized in comparison as the humour and cast of characters don't stand out as much and the music surely isn't as memorable. In other words, everything seems much more toned down which makes the world a lot less lively.
As I've already discussed, the gameplay features a new layer in the form of recruiting demons to join your party. I enjoyed forming relationships with them and watching my party grow more powerful over the course of the campaign. Another interesting mechanic in play is that you unlock abilities based on your alignment that you select at the beginning of the game. You can choose to be good, neutral, or evil which basically acts as a spectrum with skills that range from supportive to offensive.
All of that being said, there really isn't much gameplay-wise that sets Demon Gaze II apart from its predecessor. It comes across more like a side-story that should have been titled Demon Gaze 1.5. I wish there were new mechanics besides just recruiting demons and the alignment system such as a fresh way to customize equipment or innovative dungeon puzzles like in the recently released Mary Skelter: Nightmares. Instead, what's here is a tried and true gameplay dynamic but it definitely doesn't take many chances.
Even though it isn't as captivating as the first game, Demon Gaze II offers an engaging campaign that dungeon crawler fans are sure to appreciate. I just hope Demon Gaze III takes a few more risks.
- + Addictive dungeon crawling campaign
- + Great cast of characters and fantastic story premise that will keep you hooked
- + Rewarding character growth mechanics
- - Lack of innovative gameplay additions
- - Game world feels more sterilized