Death End Re;quest marks the latest entry under the Galapagos name, a sub brand of Compile Heart that always seems to bring us something a little different. This time we get a full on mystery RPG complete with what amounts to two games in one. Does it continue the fine work of Galapagos so far? Lets find out.
Death End opens with Arata Mizunash working away on the latest game at Enigma Games when he suddenly receives a random email. This email contains a log file that shows World Odyssey is still live and there is currently one active login, Shina Ninomiya. Curiously the VR MMO project was shut down a year prior, and Shina disappeared without a trace around the same time. Upon returning home, Akira decides to start investigating the log from the email & promptly recovers files for the game. Could this really be Shina, where has she been all this time? Why is World Odyssey still running? And what could all this new code and assets for the game mean? Only some sleuthing in both worlds could lead to an answer…
The story for this game is one of its standout features. There’s really two protagonists as you play Shina Ninomiya’s journey in the virtual world and Arata Mizunash real world investigations, and both storylines run parallel to the other and can even seem to be affected as well. Whilst neither protagonist is a standout, they do enough to hold the story together and its mainly your intrigue at what is to come that keeps you interested. The mystery rarely lets up and the stakes get bigger for both worlds as the shroud slowly disapears from around the mysterious use of World Odyssey. One thing to keep note of though is to save often. The game actually throws situational choices at you during the dialogue sections that can lead to some grisly game over moments. These are actual game overs as well so if you have’nt saved for a while, you’ll lose all that progress – best keep on your toes and use the games save function during dialogue to ensure not so much progress is lost when deciding your fate.
Compile Heart games have gradually gotten better at utilising the extra power on offer as this generation has gone on, with Death End offering up some surprisingly lush environments. The first time you get control of Shina you’re met by a quaint cottage, but once you leave the improvements are there for all to see. Green hills roll into the distance, vegetation sways in the wind and the detail on offer is certainly a step up. This mainly comes from the environment textures, which look to have finally moved on from the Ps3 roots in previous games and now sport a Ps4 sheen with additional shading techniques employed. Assets as a whole have improved across the board, there’s very little rehashed from other Compile heart games too, with plenty of new designs in the enemies that fit the world crafted perfectly.
Performance is usually a sticking point for the developer, many previous games have exhibited a lot of choppiness, and that’s one improvement here that everyone will appreciate. Framerate usually sticks doggedly to the 30fps target this time around, with only momentary drops here & there, which is good to see given the overall presentation. The developer seems to still not have acknowledged the existence of the Ps4 Pro, the game doesn’t appear to have any improvements at all. Everything looks as though it is running on the standard, with the good performance on offer meaning the Boost mode doesn’t really do much aside from smoothing out the odd frame. Overall its a great looking game though, and continues the fine work of the Galapagos brand.
With the game taking place within a VRMMORPG & the real world, that means there are really two gameplay styles offered. When in the VR world as Shina, the game plays pretty much like a typical dungeon crawling Jrpg. You’ll be exploring various areas to find key items or events to trigger, with the odd boss battle ensuring you’ll have to grind a little at least. The differences to other RPG’s from Compile Heart comes in the skirmished you’ll fight. They are still turn based, but have some fun additions. The main one is what u call the billiard system. After landing a few successive hits, the last will send the enemy flying. You can aim this towards allies for an additional hit or bounce them off other enemies for additional damage. Once you get used to this you can clear entire parties of enemies in one attack! Another nice touch is that Arata, who always plays a support role, is able to ‘hack’ the game. This can come from just supporting the party with boosts etc or by changing the genre of the game to something else. It all comes together to create an interesting Jrpg with plenty of fun nuances the player can take advantage of to get some edge during the grind.
The other side of the game takes place in the real world, and here it plays out more like an adventure visual novel. Clues found in the game usually lead you down an investigative path in Tokyo as Arata, with events in both worlds seemingly affecting the other. The seamless nature of the switch is a nice touch, and it does offer a break from the grind if needed. It’s not quite as fleshed out as the other side of the game though, you’ll only really head back there when a new clue of something in the real world needs looking at, but it is paced well and even incorporates choices that can lead to a game over – even outside of the game you’re not safe.
Death End re;Quest is a fine JRPG offering an intriguing story
that’ll keep you engaged, some fun additions to the turn based
formula and effectively two games for the price of one. There’s the
usual slow pace during the first couple of hours, as with any Compile
Heart game, and the occasional grind to content with – but this a
JRPG that you will likely not want to slip under your radar if you’re
on the hunt for one.