For the first time in a while, we have a quick turnaround with regards to release for the latest Compile Heart Jrpg ported to PC. Available toward the end of March for Ps4, around 6 weeks later we now see Death End Re;Quest released for PC via Steam. One of Compile Heart’s best recent efforts, given Ps4 reviews, has the game transitioned to the Personal Computer well? 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 disappears 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 haven’t 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.
As noted in the Ps4 review, the game has shown an overall graphical improvement from Compile Heart compared to previous games. You’ll mainly see this in the environments as the texture & effect work is certainly a step up, with not much reusing of assets as one would expect. Luckily this doesn’t mean an increase in minimum/recommended specs, as those listed seem to be a tad lower than expected. This does mean good performance can be had easily, though only resolution, shadows, draw distance and post processing are tweak-able. Death End was playable at reduced settings & resolution on my laptop (Core i7/8GB/HD 7750) which was a surprise as IFI games tend to be a bit hit & miss as to whether they’ll actually boot. As expected of my main driver (R51600/16GB/Vega64) performance was flawless with everything dialed up, framerate was locked at 60fps the whole time and there didn’t even seem to be any pacing issues – the Vega barely broke a sweat. There was a reason for that….
The 4k option appears to be a bit of a ruse. As with Megadimension Neptunia VIIR before it, this game also doesn’t appear to render at that resolution when selected. It looks as though its only a 4k UI with the game rendering at the Ps4’s 1080 resolution, given the lack of clarity expected of that pixel count boost, either that or there’s a criminal implementation of FXAA one is unable to turn off. It really is a shame, just as it was for Ps4 Pro, as the all around improvements to the presentation could benefit from the higher resolution – especially for some of the more lush environments.
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.
As much as the port to PC of Death End Re;Quest is pretty barebones, little improvement & only a few tweaks available, in the end it doesn’t really detract from what is a great Jrpg. The story, gameplay and graphics are some of the best from Compile Heart so far, so even those that usually avoid said developers work should take notice if not already played on PlayStation 4.
As the game is pretty much a simple PS4 port, some aspects of this
review have been brought over from the previous PS4 review and updated