Sumioni: Demon Arts is a Sumi-e art style game, this does limit the interest on the art but still comes out with a unique presentation. When you get caught up in this world you will realize the even though the graphics are not ground breaking it really does add to the game and make you feel more connected to it. This art isn’t only detailed but the combination of colors also looks amazing in your OLED Vita screen.
The story of this game starts in the past of Japan, in the past, Japan was ruled by deceit. Tengan was displeased with this, so he striven to change it. However, the capital saw them as a threat. A duo set out to banish them, but after completing their task, they turned on one another. Seimei was betrayed, but ultimately stopped his partner. However, this was not enough for him and he set his sights on grander things. Tengan saw the end coming, so he unseals a sealed demon.This is where the game begins. Form here, the story is based on how well you do on certain stages, which is a risky concept. The better you do on each stage, the better and more expanded the story becomes. So if you’re not that great this game can be done pretty quickly for you as the first ending can be reached at about 30 min. Now if you go back and do better and unlock a different level in the ‘level tree’, this will expand the game for you. Totaling out to six different endings. But again all depends on how many times you want to replay it to reach each level.
The story is interesting but then you lose interest do to how the story scenes are done. No voice acting is in the story screens and is told by a long stream of text with a background. This could have been done slightly better to keep the gamer engaged, honestly I think at least let the gamer control the speed of the text that was scrolling.
Speaking of controls, the game controls are simple and appropriate for the Vita. Besides the basic button set up you can also make platforms by drawing or you can do attacks. By pushing the L button, you can draw lines which burn, hold on a single point for a thunder-cloud or summon a god. To get good times on levels, you will need to summon a god who will assist you in the end of each level. Using these attacks will rapidly deplete your ink, but you can quickly regain some by touching the back screen or picking up items. Finally, you can change your brush to water by pushing the icon or pushing circle. Doing this will allow you to erase some enemy attacks, but this won’t work for every attack. Now mind you, most of this isn’t fully broken down for you and most of it was learned by experimenting, you can find instructions in the game but even then they are not fully clear on how or when to use this. Along with good control scheme the game plays pretty well. The average level will have a few enemies and a trap or two. Most enemies can be dispatched by some quick sword work, but the traps require a little more effort and at the end of every level, you will face a boss. Most bosses are just towers with enemies or cannons on them. There are also two other types of stages. One where you have to survive for a period of time or use your skills to beat a giant to the end of the level. These are quite rare, but appear around once a path.
A few things that are disappointing is the lack of gameplay, of course it is up to you about how many times you choose to play it but if you just consider getting to the first ending the amount of gameplay it is only about 30 min, but if you are one that doesn’t mind trying level’s again for better times to open up other levels then you can see 7-10 hours of gameplay for your self. Now I say that many hours because some of the levels are frustrating. Once I achieved ending 1, I instantly started my quest for a better ending. Despite starting stages being a joke, the deeper paths jump in difficulty. This makes sense, but the jump was very noticeable. Not only do enemies do insane damage, but stages have more powerful enemies. Some of these stages will result in several failures before you complete them. This will get annoying when you don’t 3 star a level and have to keep redoing it because you either took a few seconds to long or took too much damage.
One thing I couldn’t find, if it is even accessible, is what times are needed and minimal damage to 3 star a level. Now, you might say, get your best time and you won’t have to worry but if I know I can’t get hit more than twice and half way through I get hit a third time I can save time and just restart.
With so little in terms of in-game diversity, no reasons exist to actually see and do everything unless you’re a dedicated gamer and have to see every ending or Trophy hunter. This game is really hard to recommend because most causal gamers will probably play it quickly for the first ending then attempt other but once they reach that frustration due to level re-dos, they will probably just quit the game and be happy with whatever ending they saw. For the price of $19.99 it is hard to justify a purchase unless you are into replaying games for better times/scores to unlock more level’s and alternate endings.