Dark Eye Demonicon Review

As somebody who is completely unfamiliar with the Dark Eye universe, Demonicon’s story and setting just feels like another generic fantasy universe with its own set of races, conflicts, and more than its far share of evil demon lords. Perhaps I’ve just seen too many different fantasy universes, but a lot of fantasy universes fail to sufficiently engross me with their complex lore, often unremarkable characters, and generic storylines, especially with fantasy giants like Warcraft or The Lord of the Rings to compete with. But hey, if you’re a fan of The Dark Eye franchise, then you might really enjoy the lore that Demonicon has to offer.

 

demonicon Combat

 

The story is, for the most part, pretty interesting and certainly goes in some pretty unexpected directions, but it’s often let down by poor writing and dull characters. The basic premise is that you are looking out for your sister and father whilst trying to uncover the truth behind your new found magical gift and defeating the source of the ever-present demonic invasion. Demonicon’s story is bordering on being obsessed with ethically questionable moral choices that consistently end every single quest and quest line in the game. Some of the choices you encounter are rather interesting and will offer two equally bleak resolutions to some seriously grim situations. One choice, for example, has you choose between killing a demented, highly dangerous cannibal at the expense of innocent lives or letting him live and saving the innocent villagers in his captivity. Although some of the choices can be a little predictable, they really do make you think at times and your choices do seem to have a notable impact on the story and the world around you, although no more than when villagers would follow you round and shout at you in the Fable series.

 

The combat attempts to go for a sort of cinematic looking approach, with the game pausing for a brief second after each of your attacks, but it just makes the combat feel slow and strangely sluggish. Basic combat is very hack ‘n’ slashy with a focus on accurately timing your attacks to build up your combo enough to activate “demonic wrath” mode, which offers significant buffs your stats. Having a timing window to continue for combo feels unnecessary and a little punishing for combat that is so spam-based. Your melee attacks build up mana required to fire off your underwhelming “Gifts”, or spells, which consist of icy slows, fiery damage-over-time abilities, self-buffs and debuffs, which can all be upgraded with GP (gift points). Magic spells are accompanied by melee-based abilities purchased and upgraded with AP (adventure points), these generally consist of varyingly powerful blows. Unfortunately, the combat just feels oddly-paced and a little sloppy, the lack of a lock-on system and the length of some of your drawn out animations can often leave you dying unfairly, especially when the game throws groups of ten or more enemies at you at any one time.

 

Demonicon

 

Generally, some of the game’s RPG mechanics and limited exploration are pretty fun and work serviceably well. The game is rich with poorly written dialogue, seemingly useful loot mechanics that generally offer nothing but useless crafting materials, and a whole host of utility skills, like lockpicking or herbalism, to dump your excess AP into. Such utility skills will often allow you to further explore dungeons to scavenge as much loot as possible, which can be fun and allows for a kind of completionist attitude to loot-finding, but it often isn’t necessary to waste your AP on these skills when it can be spent on much needed improvement for your combat performance. The fact that these utility skills must be purchased with points that are also used to purchase combat abilities just seems like lazy design, a unique currency or even just an entirely different approach to utility progression would have perhaps worked a little better.

 

Occasionally the game will throw some fairly basic puzzle or obstacle to overcome, but these are quite rare. They can range from choosing the appropriate dialogue options to aligning symbols in the right order to open a door. Although they are fairly basic and can just be guessed, they are often quite bad at explaining what exactly needs to be done and it often turns into a monotonous guessing game. An example of one of the lengthier and more frustrating dialogue puzzle sequences has you go through a long conversation to get to the five part puzzle that requires you to guess the right choice five times in a row, but if you get it wrong you are taken out of dialogue and have to go through the whole conversation to get back to the puzzle sequence. It’s a lot of these minor frustrating moments that make the game feel so unenjoyable, consistently poor design decisions will have you banging your head against a wall at all times.

 

the-dark-eye-demonicon

 

The game’s visual design is nothing short of lacklustre; some half-decent character models fail to account for murky, low-res textures, clunky animations, as well as some really poor optimisation. Despite the game looking more than five years old it runs horribly, even on the lowest settings possible, and I experienced some really significant screen tear, even with v-sync enabled. The game was also extremely unstable, with audio sometimes cutting out mid-sentence or music just failing to play and the game frequently crashing, often whenever I was trying to cast a particular spell; in short, I found the Vision Engine 8 severely lacking and I wish that a more modern engine would have been employed.

Like the visual design, the game’s sound design is also pretty poor, a generic soundtrack and voice-acting that ranges from fairly okay to bland and extremely boring (including the main character, who just sounds quite dull).

 

The controls work serviceably well for the most part and I had no problem playing with a mouse and keyboard, even if using a controller did feel a tad more responsive. I think what I dislike the most about Dark Eye: Demonicon is that it fails to stand out from the crowd in any way; there is simply a significant crowd of much better RPGs out there.

By Danny Hodges (52 Posts)


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A decent start for the first game in the Dark Eye series that offers an introduction to a potentially interesting fantasy universe.

Unfortunately, sluggish combat, dull characters, and generally poor design choices make it a fairly forgettable experience.

  • Story goes in interesting directions
  • Slow, sluggish combat
  • Ugly and poorly optimised
  • Lack of character customisation
  • Enough Popup Bullshit

    Nicely written article and pretty well sums up my thoughts.

    I am very frustrated by the multipurpose use of ‘Adventure Points’
    (1) They’re used for basic Combat stats & associated substats.
    (2) Also used for non-combat utility skills & associated substats.
    (3) Also used for Combat special moves & associated substats

    It’s frustrating because I’m not sure where to allocate those limited points. Surely some are useless.
    I had a big urge for an rpg so I bought it. Next time, I’ll wait for reviews to roll in.
    It’s an ‘ok’ game at best, with dated graphics and dated combat.
    I will say though, it’s not worth the asking price of $40, let alone the $35 I paid on Steams 10% discount.

    • Merit Coba

      I feel for you.. I have had my experience with buying games before the reviews were published. In the old days it could take a very long time to actually find a review and you had to guess from the blurb on the game package and the occasional magazine if it was any good. Often it was not. Hurrah for internet: Q.E.D.
      A story of demonic invasions threatening the land, any you being that person who is going to stop it, is not going to make me want to buy it. It sounds like lazy uninspired writing to start with. And if the back story is already like that it will not get any better. The images show yet another reproduction of the same monsters and same buildings based on medieval and ancient designs In fact one screenshot of the interior of a church reminds me very much of Dragon Age or Oblivion. Seems like someone made a feeble attempt at yet another generic roleplay game.

      After reading this interview I will wait until that inevitable steam deal when the price is dropped with 75%.

      • Danny Hodges

        I’ve definitely fallen victim to buying games before reviews roll in. I bought the Borderlands 2 season pass before the game had even come out, and then when I found that I didn’t enjoy BL2 as much as the first one I never played any of DLC, and it still annoys me that I bought it impulsively.

        • http://www.worldsfactory.net/ Alessio Palumbo

          Just keep reading WF and we’ll do our best to keep you informed!

    • Danny Hodges

      I really didn’t like the multiple uses for AP, it felt like the game was trying to force me to choose between combat effectiveness and utility. You’re definitely right about the game being outdated, the game feels like it should be from 2010, and even then it wouldn’t have been great.

  • Olivier Depondt

    The controls are just annoying as hell as you can’t alter most of them!!!!What nonsense is this???

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