There’s something to be said for cutesy, fluffy anime games! Depending on who you ask, anyway. They’re probably an acquired taste, but I think they’re pretty alright. On the other hand, there’s also something to be said for gruesome horror games. If you see where I’m going with this and suggest combining the two, you’re paying attention, and that’s what Death End Re;Quest did back in the day. Apparently it’s not a terrible idea, since that one did well enough to merit the creation of a sequel, and Death End Re;Quest 2 does more of the same in a cutesier, more gruesome way. Enjoy!
After having something of a…difficult childhood, Mai Toyama’s out on her own. She’s got her whole life ahead of her! First, though, she wants to find her missing sister. In order to do so, Mai heads to a girls’ school in the town of Le Choara. Working from there, her sister’s last known location, Mai hopes to find out what happened to her and maybe even get her back. Le Chaora’s not the friendliest place in the world, though, and even the new allies Mai makes might not be enough to ensure her survival.
Unlike the original game, this sequel takes awhile to get moving. It’s pretty clear to the player what’s going on fairly early on – as the characters becoming Glitched, the presence of data corruption and so on might suggest – but Mai and company meander about and have cute slice-of-life chats (well, as far as this game goes with “cute”) for hours before things really become exciting. Strangeness like the characters’ obvious magic powers isn’t really addressed for quite some time, and even the fact that you’re fighting monsters is considered more of an oddity than anything.
Combat is pretty similar to the previous game. You’ve got three characters on a circular field fighting monsters by performing three abilities – healing, attacks, what have you – at a time. Smacking an enemy allows you to knock them back and send them flying, dealing damage as they collide with the edge of the arena and other enemies. If they then go flying into your party members they’ll get smacked again, continuing the chain of destruction.
Unlike the first game, this system feels a little more useful, particularly early on where the extra damage can be helpful, and generally speaking combat is a bit less of a slog than the previous title if you pay attention to what you’re doing. Likewise, you can learn new skills by experimenting with the ones you have, which is a nice system that you’ll want to get into right away instead of waiting until halfway through the game this time. One interesting point regarding combat is that you can use characters from both the first game and this one in the same party, but given the party size limit that’s rarely especially useful.
Exploration, meanwhile, has more of an open-world feel. La Choara isn’t as explicitly divided into chunks the way that World’s Odyssey was, so while there’s still zones to roam around you’ve got more say in how you approach things. Mai and her friends have different field skills that can be used to access hidden items and secrets; the original Death End had a similar system that was drastically underused to the point of basically being forgotten later on, so it’s nice to see that Idea Factory did more with it here. Don’t come in expecting Breath of the Wild or anything like that, but it’s clear that Idea Factory recognized the problems with the original game’s design and did a lot to improve on them.
You’re probably not playing this for either the combat or the exploration, of course. You’re here for the plot. Rest assured that Mai’s story is about as dark as Shina’s. Getting into it too much would probably compromise both Popzara’s strict no-spoiler policy and the fact that some of this stuff isn’t appropriate for a family site (that volcano scene from the first game springs immediately to mind), but rest assured that Death End Re;Quest 2 isn’t playing around. Hoo boy.
Depending on your platform, you’ll probably find that performance improvements are among the many things that this sequel does better than its predecessor. Sorry, guys, I know the first game was doing its best on the plucky old PS4, but yikes. Here, you can just hop on the Steam version and go to town post haste, ensuring that you’ll have a nice, smooth time right from the start. Likewise, from an audio perspective you’ve got your choice of English and Japanese voices, with the former being surprisingly less embarrassing than you might expect.
Again, it’s pretty clear that Idea Factory was taking complaints and criticisms from the original Death End Re;Quest in mind when they created this sequel. I’m a little surprised there’s a sequel at all, really, given how the previous game seemed to wrap its plot up, but…well, here it is! Death End Re;Quest 2 is definitely worth your time if you were a fan of the original game or if you enjoy Idea Factory’s stuff in particular, though keep in mind that it’s definitely a bit more bleak than you’d think coming in.