For those who don’t know, Deus Machina Demonbane is a blend of cthulu mythos and film noir. It has a main character who is the typical film noir main character, who has to deal with attractive women and has perpetually no money. However, he studied magic in school, and as such is called upon by the female client to find her a magic book so she can use the giant robot she keeps hidden in a giant bunker and tunnel system under the city. Obviously, he ends up in a contract with the grimoire, and then uses the giant robot to fight the group of antagonists who are attacking the city.
Fair enough in concept. Sounds like fantasy got blended with sci-fi and film noir, but that can’t be too bad, and it isn’t.
The problem with Demonbane is really just one major problem. While there are some smaller issues, like the fact that the giant robot is defending Arkham city (I guess batman is either dead, or yet to be born) as well as some other minor complaints. Things like massive re-use of the same panels for the background. Missile gets shot at you in alley? Image of missile exploding in alley. Missile gets shot at you in open area of town? See previous answer and scene. The same images are reused so often and are so obvious that it will take you out of the action and story with thoughts of ‘Wait, aren’t I in another part of town? How did I get bank in the alley? What is going on here?’ and others along those lines.
But the big issue is this: Demonbane is also an anime. There was the original game, then a spin-off anime rather recently, then a sequel game, and then there is this English version of Demonbane, which is an English translation of the original.
But the problem lies in the fact that it is a fairly action intense story, which gets pretty badly chopped up by the visual novel format, to the point where action scenes are replaced in sections by animated scenes where you just sit there. Needless to say, watching a battle progress by clicking in a box takes any form of suspense or worry out about the fight. While the player may want to know what happens next, the flow is so badly broken up by the clicking through fight scenes that you just lose the interest that a fully animated fight scene would have had. There is no sense of danger, suspense, or thrill, and there is in the anime.
And this brings me to my biggest complaint: I saw the anime. Specifically, I saw the anime first. I already know how one plotline proceeds, I know the main elements of the story and how events will turn out. Sadly, this results in an additional disinterest in the game, mainly due to he fact that it just constantly feels of a ‘been there, seen that’ that I am not sure why I don’t just re-watch an episode of the anime if I want to re-live a specific part of the story.
Some of you may remember that I did a review of Shuffle! a while ago. What I think I failed to mention was when I went to watch the anime. Needless to say, having played through most of the paths of the game, naturally avoiding the loli character, I found the anime to merely be worth skipping through on netflix in such a way that I saw what the characters were doing, but didn’t have to watch through for the full time or listen to them, since I had already played the game and knew what was going to happen. As such, I had an interest in only who it would end with, as I already knew how it would progress on each path, but I didn’t know who it would end with.
Demonbane has the opposite issue: the anime shows you one path and most of the story, but has the issue of unless you disliked how the anime ended, there is no point in getting the game, because it is mostly the same. If you did dislike the anime, well, get the game, so you can sit through the story again, deal with the same characters again, and gain a different ending than the anime had.
However, if you disliked the anime as a whole, then Demonbane will do nothing to change your mind, apart from being a visual novel that you will dislike.
The other issue is this: Demonbane is an action packed story with lots of scenes that should be exciting. However, without animating the scenes, most all of them are the standard click to proceed, which takes the interest out of a car chase as easily as it goes out of a fight between giant robots. Yes, Demonbane somehow made a fight between giant robots boring. The thing is, the same fights aren’t boring in the animated version: the are fast, and there is a sense of danger that the game lacks, even though you know how the fight will end, since it is that kind of anime.
Pros: an interesting story, interesting characters
Cons: has a frankly awful story flow. Works far better as an anime than a game.
Verdict: The anime is free on Crunchyroll. The game costs money, unless you pirate it (don’t pirate it.) Try the anime first, as that is legal. If you disliked how it ended, buy Demonbane. If you disliked the anime as a whole, don’t buy Demonbane. If you loved the anime, Demonbane will disappoint you, so just go buy the anime. Now, if you thought there should be sex scenes between the main character and others, this game is made for you. Buy it with the below link.