Death end re;Quest is a two-sided game with some interesting features, a god awful, yet highly addictive combat system, and the type of characters you’d expect from a Compile Heart game. In other words, loli’s; and we’re not just talking one or two, almost all of the cast are loli’s in some form or another. Even the 32 year old you come across is a loli! Weird…I know!
Being both a Compile Heart game, and from their Galapagos RPG division you kind of know what you’re going to get. A lot of sexual innuendo, a lot of skin and scantily clad loli’s, and a lot more violence and mature content that you’d normally expect in another game of the genre.
However this time around Compile have pushed the boat out all the way! They brought in one of the best dark story writers around, veteran of one of the most loved (and feared) games to come from Japan. Corpse Party writer Makoto Kedouin.
Boy does it show! From the outset there’s blood, blood more blood and even more blood. Honestly I have to admit I was taken by surprise as to how graphic it was. In Mary Skelter for example they changed the colour of the blood, in a bid ‘fantasy’ it up and make it less ‘bloody’. Didn’t work really, but it was a good try 😀
This time around however they’ve gone all out and left it as red, and oh my god does it have a different impact on you! Within the first hour I think I’d see enough blood to give Jason and Freddy, or hell even Chucky a run for their money.
Some reviewers haven’t liked this change and felt it was over the top, and not really fitting of the game. However I feel that while, yes, it was a shock; after playing and completing the game. It matched perfectly.
What’s the game about, and is the story good?
When I first started playing this I went in with low expectations. For me, games like this are a nice little time filler type of game. So colour me surprised when this one actually became my main game, covered on several streams, and was completed in quick succession!
You play as Shina, waking up in a world you don’t know and struggling to sort your head out. Along the way you find the world has gone to crap and is literally falling apart around you. Kind of reminds me a little of the setting for Neverending Story!
Sadly this amnesia is quickly resolved with the appearance of Arata, your friend and co-worker. Turns out you’ve been missing for over a year, and you’re currently lost in a game world you helped build. However it’s a world that was abandoned and is now apparently full of major bugs.
Only way to get out of the world, and solve the mystery of what the actual F is going on is to get the ‘True End’. At this point it tells you that to do that will take around 50 hours, and I was surprised to find it did actually take me that long. Nice little bit of fourth wall breaking there!
From here on things get weird. You get an adorable little ‘bug’ that flies around you, they you get in a not so adorable way. It’s actually quite a graphic way!
However this is also where the game both struggles and does well. On the one hand the writing for Kedouin is superb. The story is well written, makes sense (or as much sense as it’s meant to at this point) However it has to be said that the Visual Novel aspect over stays it’s welcome a little bit. By the time I actually got to the dungeon crawling aspect I was genuinely starting to get bored. The exposition went on for two long.
However, I do find I liked the story being told in the VN part of the game. Overall I felt the story was really well written and at the end of the game I was genuinely satisfied with it.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Now let’s talk about one of the biggest strengths and weaknesses of the game. The combat.
Let me say from the outset, that I really enjoyed the combat, it was satisfying as all hell to play pinball with monsters!
Combat takes place in a circle arena, however it’s a free roam turn based system. What this means is when it’s your turn you can run anywhere you like within the arena, and take three actions. Movement does not count as an action, but you can’t move, take an action and move again. Position is key!
Once you’re in position you then sadly have to fight the camera to get you’re target line in place. With some abilities this is a minor thing, as they’re either a wide cone attack, or area attack. However some of them are single narrow line attacks, and these are a pain to set up. This is due to the camera on these not being fluid free move, it seems to flop all over; leading to moment of rage trying to get the line right.
This though is a minor gripe, and one that did make it all the more satisfying to get right. The reason being once you finish your attack you do a knockback which sends the mobs flying. You aim is to send them through the glitch circles on the arena floor to increase your rewards. However if they knock into another mob they get knocked flying as well. If they hit the boundy of the arena they bounce back and take more damage. Finally if they end up next to another party member they also do a knockback on them sending them flying once again.
Watching this happen is highly satisfying, and made the struggle with the camera to be worthwhile!
That’s not all there is to the combat however. Those glitch’s on the floor, if you as a player run through them you take damage (or gain a buff, depending on the type), but you also increase you Glitch Mode, which when you trigger it turns you into super almost naked laughing manically killing machine that wipes the floor with most things.
I liked the trade-off of this system, having to damage yourself on purpose to the awesome mode.
The other combat mode is with Arata. When you’ve cleared a certain number of glitches he can ‘hack’ the game for you, giving you two options. The first is weakening your enemies or buffing you. The other is a combat mode that lets you swap game genre (sort of) and for a turn you can either do a first person shooter or fighting game. Honestly I do shooter just so I can hear the characters going ‘pew pew pew’ in their loli voices (cracks me up every time!). Though admittedly you have to fight the camera again for targeting.
All told this makes for one of the most entertaining and addictive combat segments ive come across in a game!
Time for Arata
That’s not all there is to the game however. Every now and then you’ll encounter a road block that Shina and Co just can’t get past. Enter (or rather Exit) Arata. You swap from the game to the real world and Arata is off in a VN to try and figure out how to get past that big bug Shina and Co is currently blocked by.
Honestly this section of the game could have been a game in its own right, it’s that expansive and complete. There’s and entire linked story going on that Arata is trying to figure out.
I was really intrigued by the story and how it plays out, the writers did an excellent job with this! To me it felt better writing and better flowing than Shina’s VN segments. It also never felt like it was dragging on, which Shina’s certainly did at times.
Save! Save! Save!
This was a big shock to me, and was also a stream killer. I’d gone through over two hours of content, a lot of dialogue, and was finally doing some dungeon exploring. Naturally I died, now in general you’d have thought when you left the VN side of the game it would have auto saved for you. NOPE!! So it took me back over 2hours!!
Yeah, no auto save, no checkpoints, nothing. You have to manually save, and you can only save in the glowing little nodes (easily missed!) in the game world, or at camps. So yeah, make sure you save every time you see the opportunity. However an interesting trade off with this is that you don’t lose anything. What I mean is, let’s say I played 10hours of the game. Amassed a chunk of money, learned some interesting skills and abilities, and promptly died. I’ve been sent right back to the beginning of the game, only I have all the monies and abilities I’d amassed before dying. I liked this aspect of dying!
Snippety snippety snip.
I love the English and the Japanese voices in this game. They’re perfectly matched and have a lot of emotional range. However if you play on the Japanese VA you find a lot more voiced dialogue. It sadly seems they decided to cut a lot of the voiced dialogue from the English dub. This does however explain why sometimes the characters will stop being voiced mid-way through a scene. So as much as I liked the English dub, I’ll be sticking with the Japanese
Buy this game! Honestly of all the games I’ve played this year (thus far) this is one of my faves. It’s got everything I wanted from the game and more! Sure it’s got it’s issues, issues I hope won’t be in the next game. However, I feel that Compile Heart have an IP now that could potentially rival the Neptunia franchise!
I look forward to seeing how this series develops!!
The review copy of Death end re;Quest used for this review was provided by it’s Publisher Idea Factory.