Following a PlayStation 4 & PC release several months ago, the port to Nintendo’s handheld for Death End reQuest 2 has finally seen the light of day. Going for a different vibe to the 2019 original, with collaboration from Makoto Kedouin, has the wait for a portable release been worth it? Let’s take a look.
Mai Toyama seeks an escape from her traumatic past which culminated in the killing of her father. Following her ordeal she is taken to Wordsworth, an all-girl’s dormitory/orphanage situated in the small, mountainous town known as Le Choara. This is the same place her sister, Sanae, contacted her from and was last seen. Hopeful, Mai seeks to find her kin, but she soon finds terrifying inhabitants which lurk throughout the town. By day a quaint mountain village, but at night, Le Choara’s streets are filled with menacing creatures known as Shadow Matter. Mai soon realises that her only hope of finding her sister lies beneath the long-buried secrets which haunt Le Choara.
The original game would sometimes have a dark side to it, but a collaboration here with Corpse Party scenario writer Makoto Kedouin for the sequel sees things take a darker, more horror RPG vibe that before. During the day the game takes on a much lighter tone, at least for everyone other than Mai who seems indifferent to others at first, before night falls and the horrors begin. Curiously while the story here is more of a standalone one compared to what one would consider a sequel, there are still some aspects of it that might go over your head if the original hasn’t been played. It’ll also take a couple of endings for everything to fall into place completely, with the game having a few other endings to make the most of the New Game+ option. Plenty of RPG to get through here.
Before we get to the elephant in the room for this Switch port, lets get some good stuff in first to sweeten the deal. 2D sections of the game are probably the highlight due to the sharp & varied designs for the characters and full voice acting on offer. The 3D side of things ain’t too bad either, tho not quite as good, with a decent amount of detail retained from the version on more powerful systems – eased a little by some minor cel shading that seems to have thicker lines on Switch. The town does capture an eerie vibe well enough too, helped by a fitting BGM and on point voice acting that is used throughout.
That elephant in the room is performance, which is shite. I honestly went in expecting a major hit to resolution like Dragon Star Varnir, but instead its a major hit to framarate. Exploring the town is a chore most of the time because of it, rounding corners to find your FPS tank to the teens gets old fast – tho the fights ain’t so bad and are generally more stable which can give you a bit of respite. Docking the Switch does little to help either, It’s definitely not as bad, but the fact there’s still noticeable frame drops kills any hope of a somewhat smooth ride. It’s not unplayable so long as you have some tolerance as it is an RPG after all, but I honestly expected better.
If you’ve played the original then some aspects of the game you will be familiar with, as well as those removed or changed. The turn based battles will generally play out similar, You stack up attacks in an attempt to hit a combo and send your 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 if lined up like a snooker shot. The knockback system has been expanded here which allows for some crazy combo’s once the party fills out and you have a few members. Skirmishes will also have stat bonuses to collect that give you boost, alongside the new overkill system for further XP boosts, certainly helpful during the early game as you build up your characters level ahead of the usual difficulty spike when you hit the first major boss.
Taking on a more horror RPG vibe the game plays like a visual novel during the day and an RPG at night, You’ll want to avoid the Berserker if you come across it as you’ll get one bopped without hesitation. One aspect of the original I really enjoyed was the real world sleuthing done in an aforementioned visual novel style. Unfortunately that’s pretty much streamlined away here as the sleuthing is more basic, it still exists somewhat but is mainly used to gather information from other characters during the day – sometimes can even be skipped entirely and you can just hop to the next day if there’s no event. Other aspects such as hacking into the game to support characters seems gone, understandable really given the change in direction, so anyone expecting more of the same with regards to the original may be disappointed.
Death End re;Quest 2 takes the original scenario of the first game and ditches it for the most part with an even darker experience. That means there are omissions that some may not like, but the game does add some other features as well as offering a new direction for the series. Personally I enjoyed the Horror RPG vibe of the sequel more than expected and this alleviated some of my disappointment from the streamlined aspects of the original, tho there is plenty to like about the gameplay here too. It’s a shame then that my first playthrough was on the Switch as, whilst not unplayable, it suffered disappointing framerate woes during exploration. If you can get the game on another system then its a 4* easy, but if all you got is a Switch then you’ll have to soldier through said performance, which has yet to be eased by a post launch patch (Delayed the review a few days in hope of) if it ever will.
A great little Horror RPG that’s let down by a lacklustre port to the Switch.