The Dark Eye: Demonicon PC Review

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The Dark Eye: Demonicon is an action RPG from Kalypso Media and Noumena Studios. Set in the dark fantasy world of the dark eye, Demonicon offers a detailed and frightening world that serves as the backdrop to its hack and slash RPG questing. However, despite an enjoyable combat system, the formula is dated, the gameplay is oversimplified, and the plot is lukewarm at best.

Demonicon is designed to give RPG enthusiasts an engaging and significant fantasy experience that depicts the struggle of humanity in a despondent world. Yet due to an aberrant story line, loosely conceptualized lore, fairly miserable dialogue and downright hard-to-watch character animations, the game fails in this regard from its opening sequence. Furthermore, when exploring areas, the traps, switches, chests, alchemy items, and checkpoints are vividly highlighted so that anyone can simply find them. As a result, there is little immersion when exploring a dungeon or passageway. However, action-RPG enthusiasts will enjoy hacking and slashing their way through the levels and a detailed and well constructed skills and perks system, as well as a plethora of weapons, armor, and spells at their disposal.

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Demonicon offers a very approachable exploration & combat system that welcomes new players. The main character Cairon will draw his weapon when enemies appear, and sheathes it when out of combat. Outside of combat, there are no run, crouch, or roll actions available — a disappointment in my book. However, the combat system is rewarding enough. Demonicon refers to blocking as parrying, performed with the L1 button. Parrying causes a counter-attack to be possible, and button prompts are given when spells or special attacks can be used during combat. The hack and slash style is somewhat reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed, and the addition of a rolling action performed with L2 during fight scenes allows for some action-packed sequences. Casting spells is necessary for Demonicon players, who gain back MP or “essence” by attacking enemies and stacking combos. This creates some interesting situations in which destroying mobs becomes crucial to regain MP, use spells, and survive.

Graphically, particularly during cut scenes, Demonicon is hindered by awkward character animations and lack of realistic perception in an otherwise well-rendered graphic world. Character animations when performing actions such as applying a bandage or two characters kissing are all frightfully stiff and unconvincing. Although characters are rendered well and the dark fantasy themes have been given enough gritty detail to be noticeable, Demonicon suffers gravely from these cut scenes and character animations. Furthermore, although there’s enough detail here to make the game look passable, the lack of a thorough treatment of all graphical elements does not go far in justifying its price tag.

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Demonicon’s plot has a lot of potential for a dark fantasy, which is sadly wasted by egregious storybook twists and poor choices in plot progression. What begins with an opening cut scene depicting blood sacrifice leads haphazardly to the first quest, wherein our humble protagonist Cairon meets Calandra, his sister, or lover, or soul-mate, or what-have you. When they meet, Calandra is deeply wounded, and despite her protests to Cairon to leave her be lest their blood be mixed, he proceeds to bandage her (cue aforementioned abysmal animation). At this moment, engaged in an auto-erotic bandaging scene moved amply along by Calandra’s blood covered tits bursting out of her armor, Cairon and Calandra’s blood does indeed mix, Cairon’s face becomes deeply furrowed with black cracks, and for a moment he looks demonic. Then, they both discover they’ve been healed from their wounds. Magical.

Set in the universe of The Dark Eye, Demonicon attempts to present an adult-themed, dark RPG experience. The game’s tone is bleak and it’s content crosses the line of what’s considered taboo. Ultimately Demonicon falls painfully short of the stories that we’ve come to know from studios like BioWare and CD Projekt RED.

The bottom line: casual RPG fans may find enough to savor here, but I’d save $40 and wait for something that adequately & genuinely expands the dark fantasy action RPG genre.

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