reviewed on PC
A story to tell
A hooded traveler walks down an empty dirt road on a dark night, as a storm moves in over the plague stricken countryside of medieval England. Fear, superstition and murder have gripped the inhabitants of the small village of Cavorn. A lightning streaks across the sky, faintly outlining the town walls up ahead. With the Mayoral invitation in hand, you approach the wary gate guard. You have now stepped into the world of Daemonica.
Daemonica is the latest title from Meridian-4. Crossing into the realm of Adventure/Mystery games, Daemonica offers the player a unique story born of the horrors and superstitions of medieval England during one of its most troubling eras, when the country was ravaged by the Black Plague. The player takes the role of Nicholas Farepoynt, a Beast Hunter, which is an investigator of sorts. He has been personally invited by the local mayor from York to the small village of Cavorn in hopes that some sense could be shed onto a series of grizzly murders.
Don't let the title of beast hunter fool you, however, for the beasts that you hunt are not of the animal kingdom. You, as Nicholas Farepoynt, hunt the dregs of humanity, the demons that walk amongst us, committing the worst of crimes. Nicholas has an unorthodox method of investigation, however. Instead of simply interrogating the locals, he is also able to interrogate the dead. He is known as a Haresh al-Dorem, one who speaks with the dead. In combination with his skills in herbalism, alchemy, and swordsmanship, he makes his way through the dark twists and turns of a well written supernatural murder mystery.
Herbs & Potions
Daemonica is, as stated, an adventure/mystery. The gameplay is smooth and enjoyable to say the very least. The pace of the game, nonetheless, may be a bit slow for the adventure/action fans, but the story that unfolds before you more the makes up for it. There are times, however, when it feels that you are playing one big scavenger hunt. You may be required to get this, to trade for that, which opens the other things which will lead you to over there where you find something else. Usually, this would be maddening. Thankfully, Daemonica features a map-based point and click navigation system. This simple, yet genius, addition to gameplay made all the difference when you got into the situation of having to run between a few locations half a dozen times.
Both alchemy and herbalism are a big part of the game and its story. The use of potions allows Nicholas to take advantage of his special powers. It is also the reason he is viewed with great apprehension. Locals know that he is up to something, they just don't know what. Keeping to history, the use of such powers, if discovered by local townspeople, would likely result in an expeditious execution. Oddly, no one seems to wonder why you are so fond of picking up all sorts of flowers and weeds from the local countryside during your investigation. This is probably for the better. These flowers are the active ingredients for your potion recipes, which must be brewed and collected during your travels. This facet of the game can almost be considered a mini game because of the amount of time spent just finding the proper ingredients. At one point, the storyline will more or less stall until you can find and brew a certain potion. This unfortunately leads you out into the countryside in the old-fashioned way in order for you to find that one colorful weed that you have yet to cross off from your shopping list.
Swinging and Blocking
There is really not too much to be said about how combat is resolved in Daemonica, besides that it is simple and to the point. You can attack, block or be hit. It really is that simple. As this suggests, combat isn't a large part of the game. Much of the investigation is done though interrogations and good old footwork. The few 'uncooperative' folks you run into will really not be much of a problem as long as you are not trying to do something else while playing. Later in the game, the foes become a bit more aggressive, but it still comes down to timing when to swing and when to block.
No Pros and Cons at this time