Sumioni: Demon Arts is a game with a fantastic art style. Unfortunately it is not a game with high levels of fun and smooth controls.
In Sumioni you take on the role of Agura, an ink demon out to save a city from evil. The basic controls are easy enough; use the analog stick to move, the X button to jump and the square button to attack. It is when you move beyond these controls that things go bad. Since Agura is an ink demon you can use ink to create platforms, wipe out enemy projectiles and to cast magic spells. To create a platform you draw it in by dragging your finger over the screen where you want it to be. This is fine when you just need to jump up to something when nothing is around but in the middle of combat having to move your hand to do this makes things difficult. To destroy enemy projectiles you need to touch the bottom corner of the screen to use your water brush and then again, touch the screen over the projectiles. Again, this pulls your hands from the simple controls and adds challenge through mechanics rather than game play.
Those are the simple uses for ink; magic spells are the more advanced and powerful uses. You can hit the left shoulder button, which thankfully pauses the game, and then you can either draw lines of flames on the screen or pick a spot for lightening to strike. Since you don’t have to rush here these work very well. You can also summon two different ink gods to help you. The summoning of the gods is done on that same screen by tracing a pattern that is drawn on the screen. Once again this is during paused play making this mechanic work well.
Sumioni is made up of several groups of levels. They are layered and you have to perform very well to move down levels and get the better endings. To do this you have to earn the highest ranking on certain levels. Unfortunately the game does not tell you what the requirements are to do this. It also does not let you go back to replay previous stages. Instead you have to have saved before that stage and remember which save it was so you can go back and try again.
Adding to all this is the high level of difficulty for the game. Most people would be able to make their way through to the most basic ending but to even get to the second ending a player is going to have to sink some time into the game. The whole irony of this is that the levels are super short and you can get to the first of the six endings in under an hour easily.
The biggest thing going in Sumioni: Demon Arts’ favor is the visual art style it uses. It is a Japanese style that looks like the characters where painted by an artist as they move on the screen. The backgrounds are also beautiful and well crafted. Unfortunately, the graphics just can’t make up the rest of the game’s issues.
In the end I found Sumioni: Demon Arts to be mildly entertaining for a very short time. The lack of being able to revisit a level and the high difficulty ruined it for me though. At least if you have this you have pretty pictures to look at.
Final Rating: 4/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: PS Vita
Time to completion: About 1 hour for the first ending
Trophies Earned: 2/13
Price Bought at: $19.99
Current Price: $19.99 via PSN
Recommend Purchase Price: $4.99
Why you should buy it: You like frustrating games that give you little help.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: You enjoy having all your hair.