I really do try to get myself into the visual novel genre. Plenty of times I’ve found myself enamored with a particular art style or plot scenario that has convinced me to break out the reading glasses. Yet there’s always a part of me that goes, “Yeah, but a lot of what I gravitate to feels so… catered to me.” So today we have Demonheart: The Ice Demon, an otome game not catered to my straight man demographic! It was also one of the only visual novels to feature a demo during Next Fest…
Quick structure disclaimer: Given this (and all the others) is only a demo, I won’t be too in-depth with my coverage, and will only reflect on the good and the bad. No overly long personal history or filibuster. No nonsense. That said, I will provide a synopsis for the game below.
“Play as the young witch Shar, as she moves in with a famous witch who keeps demonic prisoners in her basement. Will Shar find romance or doom?“
Okay, there will be a little context talk before getting into this.
The Ice Demon seems to be a sort of spinoff to another work by this developer, simply titled Demonheart. The itch.io page assures those researching that The Ice Demon is fully playable on its own and that it simply “expands” the Demonheart lore on a different continent. So… there’s that, I suppose.
Also relevant is that this demo does not cover much at all. It took me about fifteen minutes to read through the whole thing, which, for visual novel standards, is like a chapter or two of a standard novel. Thus, this article will focus more primarily on (very) early impressions.
Disregarding writing for a moment, what’s immediately striking is the art style of the entire game. Everyone glistens in gorgeous brown hues, effectively toned and garbed in extravagant robes (or letting their physique do the talking, as per one character). While it does very little for me as the not-target-demographic, I can appreciate the detail present in making these characters as attractive as possible, and well-representative of the culture of the country.
Back to writing, it sets up quite a bit right off the start. Visiting a new country to become a witch’s apprentice, Shar is introduced to a variety of characters with obvious baggage, with the dialogue leaning towards one or two people being suspiciously antagonistic/sympathetic. Will anything be made of this? Who knows? I suppose for the reader’s sake, it turns out more complex than “This person bad; this person misunderstood.”
Okay, what can I nitpick from fifteen minutes of reading? Hmm… the “ice demon” present in the title is barely in this demo? No, that’s not a big deal… Can’t think of anything.
There’s too little content for me to accurately assess what could be improved. Nothing too egregiously awful or broken to suggest any specific changes going forward. Characters reacted as they generally would given the circumstances and the art direction was pleasant. Hard to complain.
Well, maybe the decisions you make in the demo don’t amount to anything? Because it’s a demo? No, that’s hardly relevant either. It’s a fifteen-minute visual novel demo that doesn’t get into much gritty detail. Either you’re into it or you’re not.
To be blunt, while there’s nothing really wrong with the demo, there’s also not much to praise. Art is nice, but one can determine that from still images. Otherwise, it sets things up about as adequately as need-be, without really hyping anything up. I think it needs a good 45-60 minutes of content to really stoke the fires of someone’s interest, though for what it’s worth, it’s a start. Do give this a go if the art or setting appeal to you.
Demonheart: The Ice Demon has a demo you can play now on Steam. (Link under “Game Summary.”)
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Thank you for your time. Have a great timezone.