Compile Heart's fantastic RPG Death end re;Quest now has a sequel so let's hack in, enter glitch mode, and see if it's a worthy follow-up.
Last year, I played and reviewed Death end re;Quest and had such a great time with it that it ended up on my annual top 10 underrated games list. As a long-time fan of Compile Heart franchises such as the Hyperdimension Neptunia games and Mary Skelter, I found that Death end re;Quest was a culmination of everything that they excel at creating: rewarding combat, memorable characters, enjoyable gameplay gimmicks, and dark stories with lighthearted dialogue and humour. Needless to say, I highly recommend playing it for fans of Japanese RPGs, especially if you're the kind of gamer who enjoys getting lost in a mysterious game world filled with compelling characters and stories. Heck, even if you don't enjoy such things then the gameplay is enough to offer a satisfying adventure on its own. Anyway, now that I played Death end re;Quest 2, I'm quite happy with it although the first game still holds a more special place in my heart.
Death end re;Quest 2 stars Mai Toyama who moves to the orphanage Wordsworth Women's Dormitory after her father perishes which is located in the possibly nefarious town of Le Choara. There, she'll meet a ton of other young women including the cheerful Rotten "Rottie" Dollhart and the intelligent aspiring exorcist Liliana Pinnata. The 3 of them join forces early on in the campaign and become your core party members. Later, you'll meet the cast of the first game with the appearance of Shina Ninomiya especially delighting me but I won't say anything more than that; you'll just have to play it for yourself. The campaign is divided between daytime when you'll simply talk to the other girls at the orphanage and night-time when you'll adventure through an interconnected game world.
Exploring Death end re;Quest 2's world is one of my favourite aspects of it. Basically, there are massive sprawling areas that are all connected and you can thankfully teleport between save points which saves on travel time. As you run around, you'll fight enemies, uncover treasure chests, and take advantage of character-specific abilities in order to jump on suspended platforms, hack into computers, and bash certain blockades down. It's very rewarding stuff to slowly open areas up as you collect treasures and you'll even be chased by Dark Shadows from time to time which instantly kill you if they catch up to you so there's certainly a lot of variety.
The battle system in Death end re;Quest 2 is essentially the same as it is in the first game and even carries over the somewhat frustrating skill-learning system where you have to blindly try different combinations of skills in order to learn new ones. You can still send enemies flying around the arena and if you aim them just right, your party members will whack them between each other via the knockback and knock blow system. Of course, you can collect cursed bugs to enter glitch mode and become more powerful and this time around, a Berserker may show up which performs devastating attacks within a wide highlighted range. It's definitely enough to keep each battle thoroughly exciting. That being said, the difficulty doesn't become substantial until over a dozen hours in which is disappointing.
There are a lot of things to love about Death end re;Quest 2 from the rewarding gameplay to the wonderful English voice cast but with that in mind, I didn't really feel like it was the next evolution of the franchise. In other words, it comes across more like Death end re;Quest 1.5 or a sort of side-story that doesn't quite feature its own unique gameplay systems or stand-out setting. Obviously, if you enjoyed the first game then you'll love this sequel at least as much as I did but you'll still feel like a lot more could have been done to make it stand out on its own. The only other complaint I have is that the camera often gets obscured by unexpected obstructions. For example, distant tree leaves might get in the way mid-battle and walls can be problematic when you're out in the field.
If you're a fellow fan of the original Death end re;Quest then playing Death end re;Quest 2 is a must. Although it doesn't feel like a huge step up for the series, there's definitely a lot of fun to be had in its delightfully twisted world.
- + Same rewarding battle system but with some interesting additions
- + Fantastic characters and English voices
- + Nifty interconnected game world
- - Doesn't really do enough new gameplay-wise to make it feel like a step up
- - It takes too long to get challenging
- - Strange camera issues obscure the action