Death end re;Quest 2 is a masterful follow-up to the 2018 title that snagged the attention of quite a few fans of the original title and evolves past its predecessor. However, while it does so, there are a few changes that will cause fans to scratch their heads. Here are our thoughts on Death end re;Quest 2.
+Tells an impressively dark story, but at a level that is absolutely captivating
+Each character is very relatable and human
+Combat is challenging, but not overwhelmingly hard
+Voice acting is rather impressive
-Scenery gets a little samey after a short while
-Audio levels for Mai are quite often too quiet in both Japanese and English dubs
Horror JRPGs come off as a rare entity. Something you don’t see very often, not because they don’t exist, but rather there are so few of them in existence. Sure, horror anime’s, manga’s, and even light novels are out there. When it comes to JRPGs, there are very few of them, so few in fact, you can almost count all of the modern ones on a single hand.
In that genre comes a breath of fresh air, a story that is as dark as it is grim, which in this serious, everything is fair game on what can be given and taken away. Much as there is in any series of this kind, the origin to the events of traumatization from abuse, neglect, and absolute abhorrent behavior, comes Mai, a teenage girl who has done everything she can to escape her father’s habits.
Mai has absorbed herself into the online “world”, reading what she can, talking to her sister, who mysteriously disappears, and eventually, settling the score with her abuser. Once freed of his abuse, neglect, and drunken rampages, Mai ends up in a boarding school for abused young girls. This is where things take a turn for the darkest. Mai’s situation gets worse, darker even, as suddenly, she learns the reality she knows, is not the reality she was ready for.
Things that go bump in the night, could be worse than expected for those in Death end re;Quest 2
Once at the academy that Mai is set to attend – Wordsworth Academy – Mai comes into social contact with many different teens. Some in similar situations as herself, others are horrendous bullies who eventually see the score settled, albeit not how you expect. The game itself is presented in two variations: Light novel and sequenced JRPG endeavors where you will explore the world about you.
Hyperdimension Neptunia fans are going to be rather familiar with this design approach. The stories you’ll experience during these downtimes aren’t all that essential, but it does help build the world around you. If you are expecting a Shin Megami Tensei style level of depth here, don’t, social links don’t exist here, it’s mostly a “character building” design that works in its own unique little way. The interactions just help build up those around you to deliver the impact that is wanted in Mai’s recovery.
Now, a few of these girls will play a larger roll, such as Rotten Dollhart, Mai’s roomate that – at times – is a bit more affectionate and off-the-wall than Mai is ready to tolerate. Her and Mai will trek through the town around them, which some reason transforms after a certain time of night (the stroke of midnight) and becomes as vicious as it is charming once the sun is up.
Le Choara is charming, but its secrets are many and come at a great cost, time to explore!
When Mai begins her investigation, it’s clear that something about Le Choara and Wordsworth Academy isn’t right. While the girls are told to sleep, Mai is out killing monsters, literally, monsters, and finding just how traumatic that experience is for those that fall into their grip. Some vanish, some survive the encounters but are left to be a husk of their former selves and it becomes rather clear that there are those who know more than they are letting on.
Exploration is rather simple, you’ll go through narrow walkways, navigating each of the corridors as you can using Mai’s ability to hack computers and expose “hidden” pathways or Rotten’s ability to jump over invisible walls and help complete a puzzle. However, there is more to the world than just exploration and puzzles. Combat is a large factor and it shouldn’t be ignored.
Combat has evolved quite a bit in some ways, but in others, it hasn’t changed or regressed in any shape or form. It’s more-or-less the same than it was in Death end re;Quest. You’ll find that each encounter is turn-based, you’ll have the option to use basic attacks, skills/spells, and even a chance to defend. More-often-than-not, you’re going to want to attack, ensuring that you knock your foes around, maximizing the damage they take, while also aiming for Overkill EXP, which is indicated by how many bars of health the enemy has lost.
Like its predecessor, players can also take on the chance to activate by running over or hitting enemies into Cursed Bugs, which come with a buff to a specific stat and raises their glitch percentage. The latter only happens by taking damage and or running over the bugs themselves. Once at 80% glitch level, the party member with the highest afflicted glitch level will transform into their glitch mode, allowing them to gain access to an ultimate ability, deal more damage, and ultimately become a walking killing machine for a turn or two.
Due to how this system plays out some may find that combat isn’t actually all that difficult, but it is never-the-less, entertaining. Just wait until you master the knock around and watch the arena like it’s a giant pinball machine of flying monstrosities.
Character growth in Death end re;Quest 2 is substantial and does impact combat quite a bit
Unlike most JRPS of this kind, namely Neptunia games, character growth doesn’t always feel substantial or impactful as it should. Sometimes, rather, it feels intentionally drawn out in order to have the player grind and go through repetitive encounters in hopes that they’ll take on challenges that they previously couldn’t. Previous titles were even more grindy than some Persona titles, which honestly, was kinda painful.
This time around, this isn’t the case with Death end re;Quest 2. You often feel rewarded for taking on challenges that could be quite impossible, which some can be due to how difficulty spikes are handed out, however, it works out rather well. The balance is beyond noticable with risk versus reward. You’ll find yourself unlocking new abilities, leveling characters at a reasonable pace and accessing the world you wouldn’t have been able to originally due to difficulty scaling, which the previous title was all over the place with.
However, there is one issue that can come off as either hard or obscenely obnoxious to some: Knowing what spells to use on what enemies to ensure you get the biggest bang for your buck. Often times, you’ll find yourself flustered, watching abilities that should be hitting for “540” at two-times attack, only doing measly damage and making you question whether or not it’s their resistance or your gear. Often times, it’s their resistance to that skill/spell type.
Bosses will come off this way as well from time to time. Some will be insufferably hard. Others can be easy to plow through. You’ll find that more-often-than-not, the real challenge is out exploring the world due to how difficulty scaling seems to bounce all across the board. Not that this is a bad thing as it’s a delight when you meet a REAL challenge after having just played whack-a-mole with a boss and watched it succumb to the sweet surrender versus being a formidable foe.
Let me be very clear about this: Death end re;Quest 2 doesn’t hold back its punches. It’s a dark title through and through. It circles around the idea of life, death, and traumatic events. In many ways, the entire game is one big haunting metaphor of the trauma the young women of Wordsworth Academy has been through and the darkness that haunts the town either because of it or the towns secrets itself (let’s avoid the spoilers, yea?).
The game itself could be triggering to some, but also, to others, a rather enjoyable experience that is both thought-provoking and artistically creative in every aspect possible. From the spot-on voice acting to character development, Death end re;Quest 2 shines and it easily becomes one of the best stories within the dark JRPG genre, setting on the same line of titles as Persona or Shin Megami Tensei titles.
Death end re;Quest 2
Platforms: PC and PlayStation
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Developer: Compile Hearts, Idea Factory
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Release Date: Available Now
It would be nice to see combat get some sort of balance and Mai’s audio dub fixed so that you aren’t having to read as much of her dialogue as listen to it since her voice actresses are spot on in delivering the impact they aimed for.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game provided to us by the publisher for the review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.