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Sumioni: Demon Arts

Score: 65%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Acquire
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:

Years ago, I fell in love with a game called Okami, so when I first loaded up Sumioni: Demon Arts and saw that the art style was very similar to Okami, I was ecstatic. The look of the game is beautiful. The opening intro is relatively long and quite well done. The demons are sharp and detailed and I was dying to see more of the game. I do wish that the gameplay had been as wonderful as the graphics. As you progress in the game, you will get more cutscenes with some more pretty artwork. The characters are relatively simple, but fit the style. You play as one demon and there are two gods that you can call to aid you. The gods are so very pretty, one being a giant bird and the other a giant wolf. There isn't much variety in the look of your enemies. There are a few basic looks, but they do all look like they belong in the Feudal Era. All of the architecture looks like it came from Feudal Japan as well, except it does have some steampunk aspects added.

None of the characters speak out loud, so there is no voicework to listen to. The background music sounds like a typical RPG. It's nothing special, but it isn't distracting either. It also never changes based on what is happening in the game, so you aren't going to be able to tell just by the music that a large enemy or object is coming up.


Gameplay:

Sumioni: Demon Arts is a whole bunch of quick levels. They are in a branching graph with a few different paths that come off. Each level is slightly different. In some of them, you simply have to get to the end, while in others, you will have to survive a specific amount of time. Based on how well you do, you will be given one, two, or three starts at the end of the level. You are given quite a few different powers to attack with. Of course, given that you are a demon, even if you're a lazy one, you would expect to have a decent amount of power. You have a sword that you can attack with and this is what you are going to use to take out your enemies and any barriers that are standing in your way. Sometimes you won't be able to reach things to attack them, but there is a solution. Simply draw a step on the board and jump on it. You can draw whatever you want wherever and use it to get to higher places. Drawings will disappear after a certain amount of time though, so be careful and make sure to put them back when you still need them. You have a limited amount of ink, so make sure not to waste it either. You also have the ability to erase your drawings with a water brush. It can also be used to wash away enemy bullets, which is very handy.

When you want some backup, you have the option to call the two gods to help you. They have different attacks, so choose wisely as you can only use them once per level. To call them, you will have to correctly duplicate the drawing depicted on the screen. Basically, it is simply tracing a character exactly as the game shows you. You need to try and match it as closely as possible with both speed and order. It's not hard to do though; I have yet to fail at the drawing part. These gods can really help get you out of sticky situations and get you through the levels.


Difficulty:

Sumioni: Demon Arts doesn't have a choice of difficulty levels, so if it is too easy or too hard for you, tough. Your demon also never levels up or gains any new powers. How you start is how you will finish. This means that the game does get more difficult as you go, but you can't do anything to ease the pain. You just have to retry the levels if you fail and try different tactics or be a bit more careful with your health. Of course, since the levels only take a few minutes each, you really haven't lost much when you do fail. I would say that you should expect to fail at least one level simply because the towers especially will throw out something that you weren't expecting. Personally, I feel that the lack of difficulty is an issue with the game. I can see some players getting frustrated and giving up early and other players getting bored because it is too easy.

Game Mechanics:

You will learn everything that you need to know to play the game in the first couple of minutes of the first level. I do wish that the controls had been introduced a bit more gradually so that I could remember them all easily, but there is something to be said for knowing everything you need to early on. By default, the controls use both the touch screen and the buttons, but you can go into the Options Menu and change this if you want. You can turn off the touch screen if you want for those who just like using buttons. I found that using both buttons and touch screen was easiest for me.

I was really excited when I saw Sumioni: Demon Arts, but unfortunately the overall experience was a bit of a letdown. The levels are short and just a bit boring. There is nothing that makes you want to keep playing as there is no real reward for beating anything other than one to three stars at the end of the level. I would recommend a rental or playing a friend's to see if you like it before investing in the game, as I don't think that it is going to appeal to the majority of players.


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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