Wednesday, October 17, 2012

DemonSouls [Lakoo] - $1.99

It really feels like we’ve been reviewing quite a few RPGs lately. Maybe it just feels that way because I’ve gone back and re-played through Chrono Trigger, Vay, Symphony of Eternity, Fantasy Chronicle, Eve of the Genesis and Osiris Legends recently, also while playing through Lunar Silver Star Story and Dragon Knight 4. Well, another one caught my eye this week, Lakoo’s Demon Souls (not to be confused with the PS3 title, Demon’s Souls), and I couldn’t help but jump on it. Am I happy I did? Well, once I put my Pokemon hat on, yes, I am. 

Starting the game up, it’s clear that DemonSouls very story driven. There are tons of story sequences, though you're able to fast forward through them. You take control of Thunder, a young fisherman/hunter who’s overly confident and dreams of bigger and better things. Living with a young women, River and her grandpa, Thunder helps to provide the village with fish and help out whenever he can. While out helping another village member, Thunder comes across a dragon and a mysterious man who gives Thunder the power to control the souls of demons with a demon soul jar in order to defeat the dragon. Cheesy? Yes, you could say that, but it makes for some pretty interesting gameplay. Once you have the demon soul jar, you’re able to capture enemies within the game by getting their HP down to a certain amount. Once you do, an icon pops up and you can then capture and use them in the future. 

DemonSouls is pretty much like your typical Action RPG. After going through story sections and while finishing quests and objectives, you’ll be mashing away on the attack button and using spells (or your captured demon’s in this case) to clear out monsters and raise your level. The controls in DemonSouls could use some tweaking. At the moment, there’s only 4 directional movement, up, down, left and right, and really, I can’t stress this enough; Once you’ve played a game like Crimsonheart, with it’s 360 degree movement, anything but just feels clunky. It doesn’t help that the game has a low frame-rate, adding to the jerkiness of the movement. With the 4 directional movement, you’re given one button for attacking and actions, with 4 icons around it which you’ll able to use to summon demons. An icon for capturing enemies appears only when you’re able to capture an enemy, and appears above the uppermost summoning icon. 

In the top left, your character’s HP, MP and XP are all gauged. Tapping on this takes you into the game’s menus where you’re able to allocate your earned points for leveling up, equip Thunder, use potions, go through your captured demon souls, merge items, forge items, go through your journal, check out the map and enter the settings menu, save, load, view the help file, check our your achievements or exit to the main menu. 
The demon capturing and forging systems are a bit of a saving grace for the game. Once you capture an enemy, you’re able to equip it and use it’s powers in battle. You can also sell these enemies at shops, or use them in conjunction with weapons to forge stronger weapons. There is also a pretty shallow elemental system, with enemies having either Fire, Water or Wood elemental bonds, and using opposite elemental weapons against them helps in defeating them quicker. With the game’s enemy capturing system, there’s pretty much always a new enemy to try and capture and use as one of your own, mixing in a sort of Pokemon-esque system to the hack-n-slash action. You’re also able to collect soulstones which let you create demons, though these are few and far between, and if you don’t save them, you might wind up having to purchase them via IAP if you’re wanting a new monster later on in the game. 

The graphics are decent enough, though there are items in the world that are outlined in blue, or that just don’t look like they fit within the area you’re in, and as mentioned already, the frame-rate does add some jerkiness to the movement, but it’s nothing as bad as Legend of Master 3, where the whole screen jerks when you move. The animations are designed nicely, but it would have been great to have more attacking animations included. The story is translated very well, but unfortunately, the text does sometimes reach beyond the screen, leaving the players to try and fill in a couple of words every now and again. On top of all of this, the music, though fitting for the game, isn’t looped correctly, and can be kind of distracting. 

Now, even with these little issues, DemonSouls has some interesting gameplay mixed in. The demon collecting adds a nice layer of depth the gameplay, and the story allows for multiple endings based on how you decide to interact with the other NPCs. This does help to make DemonSouls stand out in an over-saturated genre. Priced at $1.99 and being Universal, even with the 4 directional movement and slightly cheesy storyline, DemonSouls is definitely a game that fans of monster collecting and hack-n-slash gameplay should check out. Lakoo has done a great job of mixing the two genres together, and hopefully the game will get a boost in the framerate and some tweaks with the music looping in an update soon.


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