Tuesday 13 October 2020

Death End re;Quest 2 ★★☆☆☆

Welcome to our review of Death End re;Quest 2, available on PC and PS4. If there’s two things the Japanese do well, it’s RPGs and the horror genre. Developers Idea Factory look to combine the best of both worlds with their latest game - Death End re;Quest 2. 

You play as Mai Toyama, a troubled girl who’s been admitted to the Wordsworth Women’s Dormitory after the death of her father (a death she may be responsible for). Once at the orphanage, it soon becomes clear that nothing is what it seems, with several monstrous, otherworldly incidents occurring. Naturally, it’s up to you and your friends to solve the mystery, find your sister and save the day. It’s certainly an intriguing premise, but is Death End re;Quest 2 any good? Read on to find out…

Firstly, don’t let the cutesy, anime design fool you; the storyline is incredibly dark, and deals with some truly harrowing issues. Starting the game with the visual of Mai butchering her own father really sets the tone for the rest of the experience. It might not be for everyone, but it definitely helps make the characters tragically relatable* and well fleshed out. As things progress, they get more bizarre, and you’ll encounter a plethora of otherworldly beasts. The monster design is largely really good, straddling the line between comical and horrifying.

Looking to gameplay, it’s a story of two halves. The meat of the game is a solid JRPG affair. Expect classic dungeon crawling with turn based combat against the aforementioned beasties. These battles prove to be the best parts of the game, with plenty of skills and classes meaning there’s plenty of strategy needed to prevail. Turn based gameplay often suffers from a slower pace, but this variety helps keep it feel fresh and exciting. The only thing to be mindful of is some ludicrous difficulty spikes that sporadically appear throughout the game. They can be hugely frustrating, but fortunately they’re the exception, rather than the rule. 

These JPRG elements are interspersed by a visual novel. While the illustrations are fine and the dialogue is competent, there’s far too much of it. It takes ages to get into the more action-oriented parts of the game, and although you can skip these passive sections, you run the risk of missing key plot points. There’s nothing innately offensive about blending JRPG with a visual novel, but in this case it results in strange pacing that weakens the overall package.  *Relatable in a nebulous sense, not in a ‘I’ve butchered my father’ sense.

Aesthetically, it’s a mixed affair as well. The art style and world have a cool gothic appeal, but some areas suffer from looking a little repetitive. Whether it be creative or technical limitations, it seems like they had the nub of a great idea, but weren’t able to execute it to its full potential. Thankfully, the audio is much more solid. The soundtrack is fantastic, combining horror soundscapes with high tempo rock. Even the dialogue is enjoyable; it’s as cheesy as month old stilton, but that adds to its charm. It makes Mai and her accomplices all the more endearing. 

To wrap up, Death End re;Quest 2 is a case of missed opportunities. The story, tone and characters are solid, and when the gameplay is good, it’s phenomenal. It’s just disappointing that these moments are few and far between, and you have to sit through an inexcusable amount of filler between each exciting moment. If you’re a fan of both JRPGs and visual novels, it’s definitely worth a go, otherwise it’s probably worth a miss. 

Tom Baker

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