Overview – developed by Idea Factory and Compile Heart, with publishing handled by Idea Factory International, Death end re;Quest 2 comes to the Nintendo Switch. The horror themed sequel to the JRPG/Visual Novel hybrid follows Mai Toyama, a girl with a troubled past who is searching for her sister in a quiet lakeside town. This version of the game is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch as all additional content from previous releases is included for free. Links to each version of the game will be at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank Idea Factory International for providing the copy of Death end re;Quest 2 for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Mature Contend Disclaimer: this title features graphic depictions of violence, grotesque scenes and suggestive content. Due to the content present, this release has been rated Mature. If you are sensitive to the material within this game, please use discretion when proceeding with this review.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting off with the story. When discussing the gameplay, I will only be covering the core mechanics as I feel that the nuances of the mechanics must be experienced blind.
Story – following her father’s death, Mai Toyama is admitted to Wordsworth, an all-girl’s dormitory in the quiet town of Le Choara. It is there that she traces the last whereabouts of her little sister, Sanae, only to discover she is nowhere to be found. Now Mai, with the help of friends she makes on the way must uncover the secrets of Le Choara, find her sister and solve the mysteries that have led to the ghost stories that are whispered around the town.
Gameplay – much like the previous entry in the Death end re;Quest series (which I reviewed HERE), gameplay is split into two distinct styles. First is the Visual Novel segments that can be experienced during the day portion of the game, where story details, plot developments and additional details can be uncovered. These segments allow the player to get acquainted with the different side characters of the game, adding extra depth to the world and potentially to the outcome of the story.
When the night starts, things change significantly as the world warps into a glitch filled nightmare, where death is lurking around every corner. This is where the dungeon crawling JRPG system comes into play, with the player controlling the team leader and leading them through the different areas of the game. Here are the core mechanics of the JRPG segments to keep in mind, as you will need to keep on top of these systems in order to make it through the night alive.
- Dungeon Exploration – the locations that the player explores are segmented into different zones, containing treasures, obstacles to overcome and roaming enemies to battle. When the player encounters an enemy, they can be attacked providing an advantage in battle. However, if the enemy notices the player and makes contact from behind, the player will be at a disadvantage for that encounter.
- Obstacles – at different parts of the dungeons, there will be obstacles for the player to overcome. These will require specific character abilities to bypass, along with story specific choices that are made during the course of the game.
- Death End – at different points there are points that the player must make, with potentially dire consequences called Death Ends that can lead directly into a game over. There is also a chase system that has a ghost chase the player through the dungeons, when the ghost appears, the player must run as death will occur if they are caught.
- Party/Inventory Management – the game starts with just Mai Toyama as the only party member, with more characters joining in as the narrative progresses. Inside the dungeons, the player is able to equip their characters with new weapons and gear to make them stronger in battle. Be aware that characters have specific gear that they can use, meaning that ensuring a good balance with weapons and gear is key to succeeding in this release.
- Camp – scattered throughout the world, there are crystals that can be interacted with, giving them the ability to save and/or enter the camp. The camp is a safe zone for players to manage their equipment and characters, while also having access to the shop to buy/sell items and activate missions when available to give rewards for different side objectives.
- Resource Management – it is important to keep an eye on the resources that the player holds, including the corruption meter (described later), recovery items to keep the party going and the SP meter that characters use to activate special abilities in battle. Keeping on top of all resources are important to ensure survival in the nightmarish world that the story takes place in.
The last thing I want to talk about is the combat/leveling systems that this game features. When a combat encounter begins, the player enters a turn based battle in an enclosed arena, just like its previous iteration. When a combat round begins, the order of battle is determined by the speed of the characters in combat, with agility being the determining factor. During a turn, the player is able to move freely around the arena and use up to three skills at once with the Triact system.
This mechanic allows the player to mix and match their skills to be able to deal greater damage to their opponents, along with the potential to create unique combos that will increase their strength further. At the end of a set of actions, it is possible to initiate a skill called knock back, where enemies are catapulted across the arena, taking additional damage when coming into contact with others. The damage increases depending on enemy weakness, character strength and other special factors.
Each of the playable characters have their own attacks and skills that the player can experiment with in order to find out what weapons, skills and effects are the most effective against enemies. The different gear that players can equip will change the attack, defense and other key stats making the right gear choice important to get the most out of combat. Each of the characters has their own weapon type, but the majority of equipment can be given to party members to augment their strengths.
On the ground in battle are colored markers, called field bugs, which increase the corruption meter that the party members have attached to them. This corruption meter can also be increased by taking damage from enemies, with the number slowly increasing until it hits a specific threshold. When the counter passes 80% Glitch mode will be activated during the party members next turn, transforming them for a limited time and granting bonuses to stats while also opening new special skills for combat.
The field bugs also possess the ability to provide buffs to the player, increasing stats for that player, but there is also the potential for negative effects to occur from the bugs. There are two ways to collect the bugs in battle, by walking over them or by launching enemies into them with the knock back skill, causing a sudden boost in player stats if enough bugs are collected. However, there are some enemies that can’t be knocked back like others, so it is important to learn how each enemy is affected.
When the battle is ended, players get rewarded with experience and rewards, like money and recovery items. The experience points will level up the characters up, increasing their base stats and unlocking additional skills at specific milestones. There are also bonuses that players can gain from clearing the field of bugs and dealing additional damage to enemies, using the overkill system for maximum rewards by taking advantage of the knockback mechanic and enemy weaknesses.
With the gameplay covered, I will be moving onto the other aspects of the game, starting with the controls.
Controls – the control method for the game works well, with the thumbsticks controlling the lead character and camera movement. The movement is solid in and out of battle too, but it can feel twitchy, luckily the D-pad does help when trying to aim in battle. Menu navigation is smooth, with an easy to use system and the D-pad works the best, making the ability to change gear as smooth as possible. There is no issue with lag or inputs, working well in handheld mode or on the TV with the only complaint being the slightly twitch movement.
Difficulty – there are three difficulty options for the player set as easy, normal and hard, with each option changing the balance of the game through rewards and modifiers to combat. The difficulty settings keep the game balanced at all settings providing challenging experiences suitable for all, however, the sudden deaths that can occur are not affected by difficulty. It is important to save a lot during play, due to the significant loss of progress that can occur from a Death End or being caught by the Dark Shadow.
Presentation – visually, you know that this is an Idea Factory release by just looking at it. The characters are detailed and expressive, with the signature anime style that the company is known for, with a story taking place in a world that is both beautiful and horrific. The visual novel scenes and animated cutscenes work together fantastically, heightening the tension when needed or adding a touch of levity to a situation to ease the player back in.
The graphical performance in game is excellent for the most part, but unfortunately there is the occasional frame drop and some screen tearing as the game pushes the Switch hard. This isn’t an issue however as they are very few and far between, with no real impact on the performance of the experience. Moving onto the sound design, the soundtrack has a wide range to the styles used for this release, from the soft orchestral sounds to the hard rock opening theme.
The use of sound emphasizes the horror that the player experiences, making the story and the narrative experience more engaging. There is also voiced dialogue that is used during key story scenes, exploration of the dungeons and during battles with enemies. The vocal tracks for this release are available in both English and Japanese, with the English voice cast featuring the talents of Ryan Bartley (Re:ZERO), Deneen Melody (Mary Skelter 2) and Kayli Mills (River City Girls).
Final Thoughts – I was excited to get my hands on this game, as I was a fan of the previous title and other Idea Factory JRPG releases. The narrative and world that this title takes place in is engaging, with a story that has a lot of depth to it that kept me invested for long periods of time during play. The combat system has been streamlined compared to the original, but this is not to the detriment of the experience as it allows for battles to flow at a higher pace, even if the movement feels twitch at times.
The character art and environments have that signature Idea Factory look to them, with horrific imagery of the night time that contrasts well with the vibrant and light of the day. The performance may have the occasional hiccup due to the fact that it pushes the system to its limits, but that isn’t a deal breaker. I do recommend this title to fans of the previous release and those who enjoy JRPG titles in general, and the inclusion of all the previously released content at no additional cost is an excellent bonus for those who choose this version of the game.
In the end, I give Death end re;Quest 2 a final score of 4.5/5. This Visual Novel and JRPG hybrid is an excellent addition to the Nintendo Switch library, with an engaging narrative, a cast of interesting characters to encounter and a mysterious world that is horrific yet intriguing. If you want to check this title out for yourself, a link to the game will be below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)