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Dungeon Travelers 2 Review – Skimpy Clothing Meets Layered Combat

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Those who have a PS Vita know how great of a system it is, and that’s mainly due to the huge amount of JRPGs on the device. Amazingly, many of those roleplaying games are oldschool dungeon crawlers – a subgenre that has experienced a bit of a renaissance as of late. With games like Elminage, Unchained Blades, Demon Gaze, Class of Heroes, and Mind Zero, it’s a great device to own if you grew up playing Wizardry and still crave that 1980’s style of hardcore dungeoneering.

The latest PS Vita gridder to squeeze out of Japan and land on our shores is Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal, a game that is probably known more for provocatively dressed young maidens than its actual gameplay. Which is a shame, since while the fan service is nice, the RPG depth it hides beneath of it is a much bigger story. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to hear about that thanks to the controversy surrounding both its images of restrained women and the uproar over the censoring it received.

Make no mistake, the game does have quite a bit of fan service – considering every enemy boss is female and gets “tied-up” by the main hero upon being defeated. As if that wasn’t enough, the outfits of some of the game’s character classes are quite revealing as well. Between the skimpy little string bra the Berserker wears and the fact that the assassin has no chest protector at all, it should be said that if this game is played by a sensitive new-age gamer, they may suffer cardiac arrest only a few minutes in.

With that out of the way, let’s get to what actually matters: The gameplay.

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Dungeon Travelers 2 starts rather slowly, with a very awkward balance that almost turned me completely off from the game. Enemies would one-shot my characters with simple level one spells, the skills given to my starting classes were pathetically weak, and the dungeons themselves were one floor snooze-fests that didn’t excite me in the least. Initially, I was ready to write the game off as being a waste of time and write a scathing review of it that put it maybe a rung or two above Criminal Girls on the disappointment ladder. Thankfully, I stuck it out…and I’m glad I did.

While Dungeon Travelers may start slow, once it heats up it really starts to shine. After you recruit a full five-character party and get your first class change at level 15, much of what held the game back up to that point is no longer an issue. The one-shot spells you fell victim to aren’t such a big deal since you have enough resistance and hit points to shrug them off, the skill system gets a much needed boost of life thanks to the newly opened job system, and beginning with chapter 5’s tower, the dungeons become multi-tiered affairs that are suitably large and trap-laden.

Of course, getting to that point requires a good 10 hours or so, which may act as a barrier for those who aren’t patient enough to wait for the actual game to arrive.

First off, the combat is some of the best you’ll ever find in a Japanese gridder. Borrowing a class change system similar to Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret of Mana 2 for those who played it on an emulator), your characters are given two opportunities to change jobs, once at level 15 and another time at level 30. The jobs they can access are unique to their starting class and exist as branching pathways that contain several different jobs which focus on different aspects of the base class.

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A good example of this is the Fighter, which starts off at level 1 as a basic damage dealer that gets a couple simple attacks and weapon-specific passive boosts as their only skills. Upon hitting 15, the Fighter can opt to be either a Berserker or a Paladin. The Berserker can enter a rage, increase their attack power, and gain resistance-increasing passives.

The Paladin, on the other hand, can attract enemy attention and absorb blows for the party as well as cast basic healing magic. At level 30, this division splits even further, with Paladins gaining access to the angelic Valkyrie class and Berserkers getting the melee-focused Dark Lord class. Oh, and there’s also the Samurai class that either one can opt to be that exists somewhere in the middle and has access to more “Exotic” skills and weaponry.

What’s great about the class change system is that you don’t lose the skills of your older class and can still pump a few skill points into them even after jumping to another job. This lets you create some truly original and specialized builds that add quite a bit of replayability to the game. This is especially true for spell-casters, which get a bonus set of classes that make them more complex than their melee-centric kin. One of their final level 30 jobs is the aptly-titled “Magical Princess” – a class that basically turns you into Sailor Moon and allows you to transform into a battle mode that gives you more damage options than simply flinging fireballs.

Overall, the class system is pure, unfiltered genius and is the absolute best I’ve ever seen in a gridder. If you’re like me and you’re very big on min/max’ing and character building, Dungeon Travelers 2 is an instant-buy and you should probably exit out of this review and immediately buy it. The variety available to the player is much more than you’ll even find in Demon Gaze, which up until now was the deepest gridder I’ve played on a portable system.

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There’s more to the system than just class changes though, and as you progress further into the game you’ll see why when you find the crafting sheep.

While I was a bit miffed that you have to randomly bump into the crafting NPC while exploring dungeons, I was nonetheless still impressed with the actual mechanic itself. Since your main character can gather monster souls and turn them into stat-boosting “books”, you will have an excess of these tomes as the game goes on.

What the crafting system does is allow you to combine your gear with these books and imbue them with special abilities that you normally couldn’t get from item drops or chests. Though it’s annoying having to track down the NPC that opens the crafting menu for you, it’s a very powerful feature that can be exploited to great effect.

All of these facets of Dungeon Traveler’s gameplay add up to make the combat extraordinarily complex and keep it fresh through what will probably be a 70-100 hour long quest. Throw in the bonus dungeons that open up through the optional sidequest system and you can guarantee that you’ll be playing this game far longer than even most non-portable RPGs.

As fun as combat is, there are some slight downsides.

Chief among those are the instant-kill moves that enemies tend to use. As you progress forward, you’ll find that a fair percentage of enemies have access to the “murder” ability and can instantly knock out a party member if they fail their roll. While this is fair since a few player classes do have access to similar abilities, it doesn’t make it any less annoying. This hurts more than it should since the only item that can resurrect party members is incredibly expensive (until late in the game when gold is plentiful) and spells that can prevent it or bring back the dead on their own are out of reach through most of the story.

Another annoyance is the high encounter rate. While it helps with the experience grinding, it feels like a ball and chain attached to your leg when you’re running through highly complex mazes full of one way doors and open pits. What’s worse is that this high encounter rate is probably why the distance between levels is so high. Of course, they’re essentially copying Wizardry by doing this, so I can’t fault them too much for being authentic.

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So what about the familiar Japanese RPG lunacy? The same king of weirdness that made Demon Gaze so lovable? That too has made an appearance here, with some of the funniest situations I’ve seen in the gridder genre. Now, naturally, these types of games aren’t known for endearing characters or engaging plotlines, but Dungeon Travelers 2 manages to squeeze it in anyway.

Each of the characters you recruit (sorry, no character creation) has a personality and will frequently chime in during key events in the game’s story. They’ll also banter back and forth when you do certain unexpected things in combat, such as letting someone stay cursed with an affliction or swapping a one-handed weapon out for a two-hander. The personalities of the characters really shine in these moments and add a layer of care for your party members than what you’d expect of a simple gridder.

The humor is a constant in the game too, with Skyrim jokes and characters discussing how magic users belong to an illuminati-esque group that controls the world. Yes, I’m serious. You’ll either love that sort of thing or despise it. As for me, I found it hilarious.

What this all comes down to is how you love your step movement Wizardry clones. If you like the humor and the anime-inspired art, you’ll love Dungeon Travelers 2. Sure, it’s lighthearted and sexy, but it’s also deep and very complex. It’s a full-featured gridder that, in many ways, sits atop the genre. While it lacks the polish that Demon Gaze did, it has considerably more depth. The only question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to trade in some polish and difficulty balancing for an extra helping of complexity. If so, you won’t regret pulling that Vita out again.

Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal was reviewed on the PS Vita using a code provided by Atlus. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict 8.5

The Good

  • Excellent class/job system
  • Suitably deep combat
  • Large, complex dungeons
  • Great art & music

The Bad

  • High encounter rate
  • Crafting NPC appears randomly
  • Slow leveling
  • Frequent one-shot kills
,
Carl Batchelor

About

Carl is both a JRPG fan and a CRPG'er who especially loves European PC games. Even with more than three decades of gaming under his belt, he feels the best of the hobby is yet to come.




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39 comments
  1. patyos
    patyos
    September 15, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    yeah kinda makes me wanna a Vita

  2. GonzoLewd
    GonzoLewd
    September 15, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    It’s great yo.

  3. bf313
    bf313
    September 15, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    Tried out the demo with an open mind but I still just can’t get into the 1st person perspective. Love the lewdness that i’ve seen though.

  4. Ultim8_Alchemist
    Ultim8_Alchemist
    September 15, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Almost finished with Moe Chronicle. Once I’m done with that I will be moving onto this game. I really hope the encounter rate can be easily countered by items or proper strategy… My backlog of games needs to start shrinking

  5. DariusQ
    DariusQ
    September 16, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Now that Senran Kagura 2 has come out I doubt I’ll get back to DT2 anytime soon.

  6. Mike Nieto
    Mike Nieto
    September 16, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Excellent review. Glad to know there are nice games like this one available and actual gamers wanting to review them without prejudice and sjw bullshit. Keep at it NicheGamer.

  7. Nonscpo
    Nonscpo
    September 16, 2015 at 12:39 am

    Don’t see why you haven’t picked one up yet, there are way too many games to play!

  8. Eldhin Hellknight
    Eldhin Hellknight
    September 16, 2015 at 1:36 am

    So…. Which are the four censored images and how much?

  9. MusouTensei
    MusouTensei
    September 16, 2015 at 1:50 am

    Sounds great, definitely getting it when it gets released in europe next month.

  10. dsadsada
    dsadsada
    September 16, 2015 at 2:06 am

    christcenteredgamer also gave a very fair review for this game as well if you want a second opinion. The reviewer gave it an 84% for its game score while giving a 64% for the morality score.

  11. Eldhin Hellknight
    Eldhin Hellknight
    September 16, 2015 at 2:41 am

    Thanks. Mmmm certainly stupid censorship in my opinion but anyway. Maybe later im going to get it after a price drop

  12. ReaperX30
    ReaperX30
    September 16, 2015 at 3:20 am

    I just started it since I’m still on Etrian Odyssey IV on 3DS but of what I played I liked it alot. It’s funny and it looks awesome. If you have a Vita and like Dungeon crawlers then you have to get this game that’s all there is to it.

  13. DeusEx
    DeusEx
    September 16, 2015 at 3:33 am

    How’s the translation? I think that’s become something that should always be addressed from now on. Did someone throw in cringe worthy dialogue that wasn’t in the original? Did they change anything to make it less ‘icky’?

  14. 88
    88
    September 16, 2015 at 3:50 am

    “there are way too many games to play!”

    That’s why I haven’t got one. The damage to my backlog would be irreversible. Haha.

  15. Mr0303
    Mr0303
    September 16, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Where are you buying it from? The retailers have no info for it yet and the NISA store doesn’t have it available for purchase.

  16. MusouTensei
    MusouTensei
    September 16, 2015 at 6:22 am

    I live in Germany and several german online Shops, including Amazon are saying October 16th (it got a final cover including german age rating). I will probably use a shop called 4U2Play.de since they already sell it a bit cheaper and I have a 5€ coupon.

  17. Mr0303
    Mr0303
    September 16, 2015 at 6:56 am

    I’m in the UK, and rarely use online stores. Atlus’ site says it will come to Europe fall 2015 in both digital and physical, so I might check with the retailers closer to the date.

    Thanks for your help.

  18. MusouTensei
    MusouTensei
    September 16, 2015 at 7:37 am

    No Problem, retailers in my area are not reliable enough so I usually just order online and get the games ASAP in my mailbox, often cheaper as well.

  19. Mr0303
    Mr0303
    September 16, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Makes sense. Usually the people in retail are muppets and don’t know anything, but some limited editions are retail exclusive and I just like the feeling of going into a game shop – perhaps it is a sentimental issue.

  20. Syndromic
    Syndromic
    September 16, 2015 at 8:40 am

    It reminds me of Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne but with more moe. I love my Vita.

  21. Tromboner
    Tromboner
    September 16, 2015 at 8:54 am

    This and Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 came out at around the same time, and I went with EOU2. I think I’ll pick this up eventually, but from the demo, it just felt too insubstantial compared to EO (plus I like drawing maps).

    This review makes me want to pick this up eventually. I did have fun with the demo, I was just worried if it would get any more complex in the full game. Glad to hear it does.

  22. Jumanji Joe
    Jumanji Joe
    September 16, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Sounds like a great game. Pity I can’t get it because of the censorship.

  23. ashikenshin
    ashikenshin
    September 16, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Yeah christcenteredgamer is a pretty neat site.

  24. ashikenshin
    ashikenshin
    September 16, 2015 at 11:04 am

    This game requires a lot of grind. My characters keep getting destroyed by each boss. I don’t know if it’s the classes I have chosen or what but damn!

  25. Sun Tzu
    Sun Tzu
    September 17, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Just a note to those interested in giving this a try. The demo save file carries over into the main game. You can start exactly where you left off from the demo in the full game.

  26. FalseTragedian
    FalseTragedian
    September 17, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    I’ve only played the English demo, not the Japanese or the full game, but the dialogue there was quite well-written and enjoyable. I’m sure there were some jokes that were changed in translation, but given the references to the untranslated original that were left intact, I assume they kept changes minimal.

  27. CC
    CC
    September 18, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    “High encounter rate.” SON I THINK YOU PUT THAT IN THE WRONG CATEGORY. That’s always an A+ bonus for me :3 God I really need to send a thank you card to Atlus for giving you guys all the best deets. Literally the only reason they are my only exception to my pre-order general ban.

  28. TheCynicalReaper
    TheCynicalReaper
    September 18, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    “…if this game is played by a sensitive new-age gamer, they may suffer cardiac arrest only a few minutes in.”
    HAhaha! Nice, Carl.

  29. Soaringfalco
    Soaringfalco
    September 26, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    That’s it? wow, not even a major difference really, but censorship is still unacceptable.

  30. Bedarb
    Bedarb
    September 29, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    this one looked pretty derivative and low budget so I didn’t pay much attention at first. played the demo of this recently from the PSN and having fun with it. it’s no etrian odyssey but it’s worth a spin if you like old school dungeon crawlers. For those of you who have played them, how would you say this compares to Demon Gaze or Operation Abyss? Presentation-wise, at least, those games seem similar.

  31. snugdarkly
    snugdarkly
    October 3, 2015 at 12:03 am

    I’m waiting on another price drop. Besides the money I’ll have to drop for that memory card is unforgivable.

  32. Nonscpo
    Nonscpo
    October 3, 2015 at 2:48 am

    I agree with you that the price of the memory card is ridiculous, however you’ll be waiting a while on that price drop, as I don’t see them announcing one any time soon. Have you considered a PSTV? You can get one for like $50 these days!

  33. snugdarkly
    snugdarkly
    October 3, 2015 at 2:52 am

    Psh I can get one for cheaper than that, but the pstv removes a lot of the appeal of the vita for me.

  34. snugdarkly
    snugdarkly
    October 3, 2015 at 2:53 am

    This game was censored? Welp there goes the interest I had in it.

  35. Gainsayer
    Gainsayer
    October 10, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Personally I actually find it a lot easier than Demon Gaze. At least the demo is rather easy. What I do like about Demon Gaze though is that you can create your own characters, which you don’t seem to be able to do in Dungeon Travelers 2.
    I didn’t notice that the spawnrate was high in Dungeon Travelers 2 because it kind of feels the same in Demon Gaze.
    One obvious difference is that there’s a rent system in Demon Gaze. What this means is that everytime you return to your base, which is an inn, you have to pay a certain amount of gold. This gradually increases. Personally I have never find it troublesome, as you can easily make money from items that you find and sell, but some people found it annoying.

  36. Bill Pepper
    Bill Pepper
    October 24, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    God Westerners are such babies.

  37. alterku
    alterku
    November 4, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    So far this is my game of the year, in terms of this year’s releases. No joke.