Review: Demon Chaos Games | My Reviews 16 FEB 2008

Demon Chaos The challenge never lets up in Demon Chaos for PlayStation 2. Wave after wave of hellish beasts must be destroyed by players directing their army’s strategy in addition to fighting one-on-one with their enemy on the battlefield.

Demon Chaos is set against the backdrop of feudal Japan, in the year 1543. While the civil war rages, legions of demons suddenly emerge from Lake Suwa and all of mankind finds itself under threat. The gods decide to send a hero to lead the reunited human forces, and the player becomes this immortal warrior.

Technically stunning, Demon Chaos portrays its fantastical state of affairs with over 60,000 enemies visible on screen at any time. Owing to his immortality the hero marches straight into the heart of the battle without fear for his own safety, whereupon the game’s 3D realm is spectacularly realised with close-ups of the brutal action. Part of the thrill is to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the demons, chaining moves together to trigger more powerful attacks. These scenes become even more impressive as players discover items to enhance their hero’s powers.

However players are also responsible for the welfare of their armies, requiring strategic elements to overwhelm the various enemy formations while preventing loss of life. Should the demons slay all the humans, the battle is lost. Not only is Demon Chaos an amazing technical showcase for PlayStation 2, the clever symmetry to its all-action gameplay is truly unique!

Sounds pretty cool right? This is how Konami’s main website advertises Demon Chao, the next best thing since sliced cheese.

Well it isn’t. Not in the least.

Demon Chaos starts off well though: the minute you put the disc into the drive and start it up you are treated to an absolutely stellar and powerfully animated anime opening sequence complete with hero inspiring Japanese music and great fight scenes. However, start up the actual game and you get put through the CG cutscenes which only one word can really describe – stilted. Everything about the CG seems stiff and in all honesty, even though I have seen worse, in this day and age this is hardly the quality of CG work that you wish to see on a top shelf Playstation 2 game.

Okay, so cutscenes aside, every mission basically starts like this. You get a short narration over the current state of affairs before being forced to watch the terrible CG. From there you get taken to a kind of a ‘preparation’ screen that shows you a map and allows you to select your weapon of choice. Once you are ready, hit the start mission button and we are off!

Welcome to the world of brown. It is quite possible that you are getting your 65, 000 enemies on screen at once. Of course, what they don’t tell you is that all the enemies and soldiers are basically the same poorly developed sprites that are as low res and with the least amount of animation that the developers could possibly have gotten away with. To make things a little smoother the developers have cheated a little by blurring the camera slightly, basically the same trick they use in the later FIFA series cutscenes. As I mentioned textures are basically nonexistent, with the same two textures being used for all the grasslands and hills surrounding you. At least Inugami himself contains a little detail, but even his animations aren’t all that great to write home about. I guess sacrifices had to be made to get so many enemies on the screen at once, but honestly, one look at this game and you wish they had never made that decision in the first place.

The gameplay doesn’t fare any better either I am afraid. Whereas the box leads you to believe that there is some kind of strategic battles that are going to take place, in reality all you do is run around hitting the bugs demons all stage long. You get to lead your armies following you around as well of course, but the control and follow AI is atrocious to say the least. You also get to build a number of special pillars, which may actually be the substitute ‘strategy’ that the box describes. Occasionally things are broken up a little in that a big boss demon appears every now and then but you’ll quickly see that it really isn’t anything other than a bigger sprite that may have an extra spirit attack ability fused on.

The twist to this game is that your central character which you control is in fact immortal. However, you human allies are not so you need to ensure their survival in order to progress through a stage. And seeing as the game isn’t all that difficult, you can probably count the number of times you need to redo a stage on the fingers of your hand. Each mission completes when you finish the last of the tasks assigned to you during the stage and after each mission you get presented with a kind of a scorecard that details your performance for that stage. As an extra bonus you also get the opportunity to find the various swords scattered around the lands, though this is pretty much a lesson in futility.

The soundtrack is typical Japanese all the way through, though it comes through as very understated in places. And as decent as the voice-acting during the cutscenes actually are, the game goes for silent text prompts instead of spoken dialogue to carry the stage stories forward.

It is a pity really because I had high hopes for this game, particularly based on the description that I read off the game box. Demon Chaos is in the end a very superficial action game that looks bad despite the selling point of all the enemies on screen at once and manages to come across as fairly unchallenging and boring to boot.

It isn’t a great game and is quite difficult to recommend to anyone in all honesty. Not unless you are one of those diehard Japanophiles will you get much out of this game. Leave it to the video stores for a quick hire-out in the event that you are very bored, but in my opinion you would probably do better by giving this one a skip in its entirety.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.