Deus Machina Demonbane Review
“We draw forth the sword that smites Evil!
Thou art the innocent blade, Demonbane!”
Demonbane, is a visual novel based loosely on Cthulhu Mythos, written by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, depicting gods and deities. Likewise in the game, topics like universes, gods, grimoires and other supernatural fantasies are brought up again and again.
Fans of H.P. Lovecraft would certainly love this game, though that’s not saying that the rest can’t understand the fulfillment of joy of playing Demonbane. The game no doubt made a lot of references to the Cthulhu Mythos but even non-followers of the Cthulhu lore would have fun trying to solve out the mystery of everything that’s happened.
The game is made by Nitroplus, one of my favorite visual novels production company who made other critically acclaimed titles like Saya no Uta, Kikokugai, Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate. Demonbane is certainly another great addition in Nitroplus’s lineup of games.
The game is set in Arkham City, an alternative American City if you will. Black Lodge, a terrorist group consists of multiple powerful sorcerers. The group’s main destructive objective is to take over the city and with such powerful individuals, it could be certainly possible. The group is led by the charismatic Master Therion. Facing the group in an all-out battle, is one man, a third-rate detective, Daijuuji Kurou, who was a dropout of one of the most prestigious magic institutions once, the Miskatonic University Magic Academy to be precise. Although he doesn’t wish to have anything anymore to do with magic, fate binds him back, forcing him to fight the fiercest warriors of evil despite his lack of knowledge and experience. Each of the top sorcerers of Black Lodge, aka Anticross, have large, gigantic machines called Deus Machina. These robots are made in reference to gods and each one of them have the power to annihilate the city in one blow. They are controlled by sorcerers wielding mystic grimoires, which in turns provide arcane energy as fuel for the Deus Machina to operate. Standing against these Deus Machina on equal grounds, Kurou retaliates back by forming the ultimate team; Kurou, his grimoire, Al Azif and the mightiest Deus Machina of all, Demonbane.
Those familiar with H.P. Lovecraft’s works would no doubt notice the very first reference, the city itself, Arkham City. The settings for Arkham City looks like what you would expect from a modern day city. It is a bustling hub of commerce and industry indeed. Though the atmosphere of the city feels like streets of busy red light city, filled with dark surroundings and alleys and eerie lights. Demonbane is another great recurring example of mixing alchemy, religion and science in perfect harmony, as both the elements of magic and mecha are mashed up pretty nicely.
Though the most turning point of the plot for the game is during chapter 2, when Master Therion visited his seemingly rival. After this, Kurou’s character began to change, and is no longer reluctant to fight anymore. The story later follows a more repetitive patterns; Al Azif is missing some pages since her and Kurou’s fight with Master Therion and without the pages, Al can’t unleash her full powers. So obviously, Kurou had to help her to retrieve them back. Though repetitive, I think this is a great build-up. We can see Kurou slowly getting stronger, stronger and stronger with each pages retrieval, always obtaining a new kick ass weapon every time. As he gets so strong later on Master Therion had to send some of his best men to deal with him. These moments also help develop other characters too, for example, some secondary characters and even some of the villain.
Speaking of villains, they are quite awesome in this game. Especially Master Therion, the leader of Black Lodge and possibly the most badass character in the game. He has quite the character, he treats anyone like a toy, anything like a game and regards everything as his entertainment. Yes, he is probably the most frightening enigma ever. He wanted to destroy the world not only because he hatred or malice, he wanted to destroy the world simply because he is bored. Though Master Therion may seem like a vicious monster, at the same time, once you learned more about him, he seems like just another pitiable victim.
The other villain worth mentioning is the one and only Doooooctooooor Weeeeesst. Although his power is inferior to Master Therion and the Anticross, he contributes to the Black Lodge by making weapons and robots, helping them through the power of science. Doctor West is always seen donning on his scientist lab coat (and wearing it like Dante from Devil May Cry), and always rides around in his motorbike. Furthermore, he likes jamming with his electric guitar. While scientists trigger actions with a “push” button, Doctor West trigger actions with his guitar. Just how badass can that be?
Of cause, with a story depicting Good VS Evil, there must be some capable warriors on the “Good” side or the world will fall in ruin. This is where our main character Daijuuji Kurou comes in. Being portrayed as a ignorant and at times humorous guy, the man had once dabbled in the arts of sorcery, despite just a little. Aforementioned, he began to change just after Chapter 2 finished, it’s the moments when both Kurou and Al got completely owned by Master Therion, even when using Demonbane. The monstrous bastard could fight a robot 100 times his size bare handed. Damn~ Anyhow Kurou vowed to get stronger so that he could fight back Therion once more. Later on, he began to think more serious about his course of actions and questioned himself. Is his way of justice correct? Can he save everyone? Of cause, being the cool main protagonist he is, he almost got out of his slump quickly.
Al is another great character, being a grimoire manifested in physical human form. She embodies the grimoire, Necronomicon which is pursued by ambitious sorcerers everywhere. Her and Kurou made a pretty good combo. Not just in fighting but in everyday life as well. These two formed a pretty good funny man/straight man combo. During the starting scenes of the VN, you just can’t stop laughing when these two are delivering the jokes here and there. Other then Al, there are also two heroines in which you can pursue their routes, adding Al, that makes three. The other two includes Hadou Ruri and Leica. These two are far less interesting in my books when compared to Al and is probably the reason I haven’t play their routes yet. Besides, Al’s ending is already pretty much the cannon ending.
Last but not least, I think the Ruri’s butler, Winfield, deserves an honorable mention. He is just a side character and had nothing to do with sorcery. Basically, he is just a normal human and I thought he was just as useless as the group of maids. Yet he is able to fight equally with an Anticross, totally unarmed too. He is seen to be able to take care weaker enemies just as easy, proofed when Kurou and Winfield were fighting together at one point. The way he fights totally brings a chill to my spine.
As for the more technical sides of the visual novel, they are fairly good as well. I like the visuals, especially the Deus Machina scenes shown in 3D. Those 3D scenes are really one of the best aspect of the game. A lot of resources and efforts seem to be focused on the mecha battles and they did a fine job for sure. There are also animations at certain parts of the visual novel, which is a plus. Character designs look weird and unnatural at times though and being such an old visual novel, the drawings may be a bit rough too. It also doesn’t help that almost every single guy have the SAME stupidly huge masculine build. Even Dr.West, a supposedly scientist who isolated himself in a science lab most of the time, have the body of a professional wrestler.
Most background soundtracks are quite mediocre at best too, only a few are memorable. Though the game’s voice acting is quite good. Actually the voice acting, especially for the male ones are done by very experienced seiyuu. Kentaro Ito who voiced Kurou had done other famous roles like Abarai Renji from Bleach, Ryotaro Tsuchiura from Primo Passo and Hiroki from Junjou Romantica. Dr.West’s seiyuu, Takumi Yamazaki also did a fine job in delivery that comic relief his character needed. Hikaru Midorikawa also voiced his character, Master Therion brilliantly, capturing the aura of the magnificent bastard that Master Therion is. It’s too bad that the PC version is not fully voiced, only a few portions of the game is voiced. It’s really disappointing since I’m quite curious how do some of the Anticross and even Winfield’s voice would sound like.
All in all, Demonbane is one great game. There could hardly be any flaws. If you want a visual novel with more dark elements, some mecha action
and some roris with gothic costumes, Demonbane would be the perfect choice!