Death end re;Quest 2 is the dark side of Compile Heart’s line of JRPGs. If their Neptunia games are light, irreverent fun; Death end re;Quest is the bleak and sadistic horror-show. These RPGs combined elements of visual novel story telling with turn-based combat and adventuring.
The prior game toyed with isekai tropes and turned them on their head by twisting the “trapped in an MMORPG” concept from the popular Sword Art franchise. Avoiding hackers and trying to stop your mind from breaking while battling in turn-based combat, that was reminiscent of billiards was the core of Death end re;Quest.
The sequel mixes thing up with a new setting and a focus on a more enclosed environment. The combat gets streamlined and a new mystery is afoot. While the original was a bit rough around the edges, could the sequel improve on the foundation? Read on to find out in our Death end re;Quest 2 review!
Death end re;Quest 2
Developer: Idea Factory, Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date: February 8, 2022
Price: $49.99 USD
Death end re;Quest 2 makes a powerful first impression. The story begins with Mai Toyama making herself into an orphan after her violent and drunken father brutalizes her. Mai is a cold and distant girl who is only has one thing left in the world that keeps her clinging on to what is left of her humanity: her sister, Sanae.
With little explanation on how, Mai gets herself enrolled in the same religious boarding school as Sanae. The problem is that Sanae is missing and the town of Le Chaora has several dark secrets beneath its old-world exterior. Every night, terrible monsters come out and the nunnery of Wordsworth Academy are not what they seem.
Mai gets herself embroiled in a very dark and twisted mystery where wrong choices can lead to a bad end. As heroines get stalked by an unfathomable shadow matter, try to not get your heart broken from the cast as their bodies pile up while the story unfolds.
Death end re;Quest 2 keeps players on their toes with its twists, red herrings and revelations. The story sequences devote a lot of time to developing characters and allowing players to know them well, only so the game can deliver a swift and firm kick to their proverbial groin.
The writer of Death end re;Quest 2 gleefully twists and turns a knife right into the hearts of players who will get attached to these girls. Some may feel the scenario will go too far, but the author does his due diligence by cleverly setting up mysteries early on and crafts diabolical irony in their fates.
The only drawback to the story is that the visual novel approach used is very plainly designed and lacks flair. This isn’t like any of the Danganronpa games where the designers liberally use flashy splash art for emphasis; Death end re;Quest 2 has very few and most of them are not exciting.
Background art is dull and the use of text is very basic. There is no creativity with type-setting, fonts or timing. Something as minor as text speed can go a long way in setting a mood with a scene, but Death end re;Quest 2 keeps its presentation as simple as possible which makes most story scenes read like stereo instructions.
Thankfully, there is a lot of voice acting and most of the time it is very well cast- except for when English voice actresses are cast in multiple roles and its extremely apparent. Some of these performers do not have enough range and it can be jarring when it sounds like a character is talking to herself.
These moments are outliers in an otherwise superb ensemble of talent who are capable of hitting those emotional climaxes that scenes call for. The performers seemingly relish their roles and are giving it their all when it comes to some of the crass dialogue or the gurgling death rattles.
Death end re;Quest 2‘s structure allows players to freely select scenes at Wordsworth as they occur or to skip them entirely and go straight to the “End of Day”, which is where the RPG gameplay lies. If the uninspired visual novel segments didn’t excite; then the patented jank of Compile Heart’s “polish”, will impress in a bad way.
There is no question about it; Death end re;Quest 2 on Nintendo Switch is a shabby, ramshackle embarrassment. The lack of optimization makes the framerate sub 20fps and it comes with the most heinous and gnarly input lag that makes the simple act of walking and rotating a camera almost unplayable.
There is roughly, more than a half second delay when trying to make Mai move anywhere. Compounded with the long load times between areas and sloppy animations that snap into position, Death end re;Quest 2‘s presentation is woeful and bordering on criminal. It is a small miracle that Mai doesn’t fall through the floor.
Like many turn-based JRPGs, battles are initiated by running into or attacking overworld map representations of monsters. In Death end re;Quest 2, not only does Mai have to contend with a really slow and delayed attack animation, but sometimes she has to run away from a wall of instant-death.
This when Death end re;Quest 2 tries to be like a horror-game and players have to frantically out run this chaotic mess of shadows. The options are to either wrestle with the controls to get Mai to safety, or to initiate a battle with any other enemy in the vicinity.
The battle system is easily the best aspect of the entire Death end re;Quest 2 package. With a party of three girls each with their own weapon types and unique abilities; player will be able to move them on a large arena to position themselves and form a strategy.
The main hook of these battles is knock-back and setting up chain reactions where foes bash into each other like balls on a pool table. This can also be used to send foes flying into party members who will automatically smack them back, which can lead to big damage. A thoughtfully set up field can result in players taking on very powerful enemies early on.
Initiating a really long string of a poor monster getting caught in an almost endless chain of brutality is both hilarious and satisfying. On top of savagely overkilling the hapless foe, the arena is usually festooned with panels that grant buffs or debuffs (usually just buffs) and anytime a target covers these panels it counts for the character who initiated the attack.
While these are opportunities that the enemy can take advantage of, it is more likely the player who will dominate most battles. Ripping up the monsters becomes a curb stomp in the Nintendo Switch version of Death end re;Quest 2 because it includes bonus DLC gear which also happen to be ultimate weapons.
This loot used to be a microtransaction for the PlayStation 4 and PC versions, but the Switch port includes them and they utterly break the game. There is no drawback to use them and they will trivialize every battle in the game- including the ultimate bosses.
These weapons should have been post game unlocks. Having them accessible at the start trivializes most of the experience and all is left is the dreadfully optimized exploration and lackluster presentation of the visual novel sequences.
Level design while exploring is mostly made up of repeating low-quality assets and illogical mazes. The layout of the town area won’t convince anyone that it is actually a functional old world town with a mystery. All areas feel like a jumbled mess that was procedurally generated, despite that the maps were designed.
There is a sense of progression since Mai always starts at the school and areas fan outward in a semi-metroidvania style. Gates open up and literal flags mark areas where events unfold, so there is never any question where to go next. If there was more thought put into the design, the copy and paste approach to the town might have been convincing.
With curved expectations, there is still no way getting around the fact that Death end re;Quest 2 is a much more tamer game than its predecessor. Fanservice-y imagery is rarer due to the lack of splash art and fewer panty shots. Violence is much more restrained and more vague than it was in the first game and crass or vulgar dialogue is nonexistent.
While developing our Death end re;Quest 2 review, the dreadful optimization was too much of a distraction to fully embrace its finer qualities. The game was already low budget and very low spec to begin with and having unbearable input delay and chugging frame rate only soured any good will that there was to be found.
Death end re;Quest 2 was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by Idea Factory International. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Death end re;Quest 2 is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.