by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
I stepped into the brightly lit cathedral, watching as the man who threw me in prison surround himself with guards. “Coward,” I thought to myself, as I unsheathed my mace in preparation for our final showdown. His guards charged, and I threw out waves of acid as I ducked and dived around them, watching as they slowly died of poison. Before I could land the final blow on the guards, my mortal enemy slew them with dark magic, gaining great power from whatever dark god he worshipped. And as he stepped towards me, I braced myself for whatever trick he had up his sleeve. What dark powers could this man possibly have at his fingertips?
The answer was not obvious, as he suddenly and inexplicably began to spin in place. Was this a special move required to unleash his attacks? After a minute passed, I realized that no, my enemy was not charging a spell. He was just spinning in place. That, or he was doing his own interpretive dance that may or may not have been his attempt to contact alien life. Either way, I had seen this condition many times before, in bandits and old ladies throughout the city. I sighed before hitting him in the head with my mace, cutting his attempt to become a human helicopter short. Immediately following that blow, our fight began in earnest. With far less spinning, thankfully.
The Dark Eye Demonicon is a third person action-RPG set within The Dark Eye series, a German tabletop role-playing game that outsells Dungeons & Dragons in the German market. You play as Cairon, a young man who suddenly acquires demonic powers when his blood is mixed with the blood of his sister. Some people begin to take an interest in you, and events unfold from there. It is a fairly straightforward tale, with plenty of twists and turns that are less than shocking along the way. But it is an interesting story, and it features one of the most oft used tropes in role-playing games today: moral choices!
At certain points throughout the story, you have to make choices that will affect how others will view you. Standard stuff, but the best part is that you will often have no idea how your choices will impact you in the future. Sometimes you will have a straightforward choice between, for example, joining a group of smugglers or the city guard and this will impact who will try to kill you moving forward. Other times, like a cannibal that you encounter in the prologue, the choice is far less hazy. Do you kill the cannibal, thereby causing his prisoners to die slowly, or do you let him go, saving the prisoners but possibly allowing the cannibal to kill again? I enjoyed how the choices were rarely black and white, and the lack of a morality meter alongside them helped make the choices feel more natural.
The Open Eye
Speaking of natural, what definitely isn’t natural in Demonicon are the eyes of all the characters. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but there was something seriously wrong with the eyes of everyone. It was especially noticeable since the remainder of their faces are perfectly expressive. And then it hit me: No one blinks. Ever. Everyone keeps their eyes open at all times, and it feels so weird. Like staring at things that are pretending to be human. It is a shame, since the world they live in is one that I actually enjoyed exploring. Admittedly, it has a tendency to be steeped in fantasy clichés, but it is a testament to the developers that there is enough difference in environments and aesthetics that I always looked forward to what was around the corner.
Interesting story, intriguing world.
Unnatural eyes, spinning people, lack of variety in combat.