Daemonica draws you into a world where the living and dead mingle. This dark story is set in the European village of Cavorn during the mid 1300's. Nicholas Farepoynt has been brought to this decaying town by the mayor of Cavorn in hopes of justifying his execution of the local undertaker. But everything is not as it seems; the locals have come to hate the mayor and what he has done, believing that the execution without a trial for the nineteen year old undertaker was unjustified and cruel. Daemonica starts throwing plot curves at you right from the beginning. The dark side to this 3D RPG starts to shine when you discover that the undertaker was found next to his fianc? covered in blood and muttering incompressible words. What's even worse is that the skin from her back has been ripped off and is nowhere to be found. This is just the beginning...
Daemonica revolves around its intriguing story; this in and of itself makes up for some of the less stellar aspects of the game. Farepoynt's self-description drew me in the most, "I am the Beast Hunter. I am Haresh al-Doren, the one who speaks with the dead... I hunt the worst human monsters." Throughout the acts of the story you learn more and more about Farepoynt's past and how he became a Beast Hunter. You learn about his troubled past and the woman who taught him how to travel to the Temple of Sacrifices in the realm of the dead. The plot unfolds entirely through player-determined dialogue and the introduction of new characters. There are no cut scenes or any other fancy methods to get you more immersed in the story. This game is very basic in its presentation, but like I said before, the story is what really immerses you.
I thoroughly enjoyed playing through the world that RA Images and Cinemax developed. In it's presentation, Daemonica first reminds me of Dungeon Siege
. To accomodate the 3D world, the game features a camera that can rotate and zoom. Rotating the camera is a very nice feature; however, I really would have liked the camera to be able to tilt more towards the horizon thus enabling more of the environment to be seen. The graphics are not stunning and seem a little dated, but this is a minor gripe in the overall presentation of the game.
Combat in Daemonica is very straight forward. You attack/swing with your right mouse button, and you block with the spacebar. That's it.... This left me feeling a little let down, because the mastery of these two buttons comes very fast. The incorporation of an advanced fight system was sorely needed and would have kept my ADD side happier.
The puzzles strewn throughout Daemonica actually make sense and are easy enough to solve if you paid attention throughout the game. The common "what the..." experience in a lot of RPG games that I've played never happened in Daemonica.
Another really nice feature is the ability to 'jump' to any location on the map. By bringing up the main map and clicking on where you want to go, you are able to bypass the continual clicking that is usually necessary to move around in RPG games . This feature definitely speeds up the game play and lessens the tedium.
The most painstaking and lengthy task in Daemonica is the gathering of herbs. However, gathering these herbs for their intended uses is what sets Daemonica apart, in my mind, from other RPG games. Deep in the cellar of your humble house in Cavorn, you mix these different herbs found around the game environment. These mixtures turn into the potions that you use throughout the game. This is one of the most unique features of Daemonica, and one that is also the most time consuming to carry out. With one of these potions, Farepoynt is able to travel into the land of the dead and talk with the recently deceased. In each part of the game you will utilize this ability. This is a feature that could have been overused by RA Images, but was tastefully and tactfully done in the end.
Daemonica weaves a very engaging story with deep character development and added features that many RPG games lack. The mystery, adventure, and intrigue all combine into a very satisfying experience. There are of course the inherent flaws, like getting stuck behind trees, lack of total ambient sounds, and a weak combat system, but you'll stay around for the story instead of the all out action. Hey, you might even learn about the demonic words that spawned the earth, raised mountains, cut streams, and gave the birds their voices, but be sure use them sparingly...