Death end re;Quest is the latest title from Compile Heart, renowned for their Neptunia and Fairy Fencer F games. Blurring the lines of fantasy and reality, Death end re;Quest tackles the issue of life in a virtual world and the consequences that arise from making tough decisions. Earning a Mature ESRB rating, the game doesn’t shy away from suspense, psychological terrors and extreme violence. After a lengthy wait, Death end re;Quest has finally been released on the PlayStation 4 for February 2019.
The fantasy-based RPG, World’s Odyssey, elevated its developer, Enigma to fame and widespread recognition in the gaming industry. Without warning, all development of the game ceased due to the sudden disappearance of the lead director, Shina Ninomiya under mysterious circumstances. More than a year after these events, the game was brought back to the limelight but not in the manner anyone expected. World’s Odyssey became a shadow and a desecration of its original self with rampant corruption and terrifying deviants in the form of bug shaped monsters. Trapped in the world she created with no memory as to how she ended up there, Shina must achieve the game’s perfect ending to escape and return everything back to normal with an outcome success rate of just one percent.
Death end re:Quest utilizes a turn-based combat system where you are free to roam the battlefield with up to three party members. The order for the characters is dependent upon the speed stats as you shift between attacking enemies at close range or safely engaging them from a distance. Swapping your characters is done with ease with the “Change” command for any team mates standing by. Command actions are broken down in the Triact system where you can perform up to three actions in a given turn: Attack, Item or Guard. Mixing it up and experimenting is the best way to find the battle style and strategy you are most adept at using. Certain attacks or commands may initiate a knockback that sends your foes airborne and flying backwards. This is especially useful in keeping distance between you and your foes and disarming field bugs and traps on the battlegrounds. Each time a character comes in contact with a field bug, their corruption level rises on the battlefield. In the event the corruption level is very high for a party member, the character enters Glitch mode with boosted stats and abilities. The trade-off for this is limited movement or use of certain skills that are unavailable.
The Flash Drive System gives you the ability to acquire new skills when a specific combination is chosen in the Triact system. It is important to keep a large amount of SP available as these skills require a lot of points to initiate in combat. You can see the chances the Flash Drive will ignite after the third option with a yellow exclamation point as an icon display. Experimenting with trial and error combinations is the best and easiest way to obtain new skills sets throughout the game.
Your trusted colleague and friend, Arata Mizunashi, is capable of manipulating the battlefield via the Battle Jack system that can be used when field bugs and enemies are removed. This system in question refers to Arata’s set of actions to alter the field via: Code Jack, Summoning and Install Genre. With Arata’s help, conditions on the battlefield can be manipulated to your advantage to increase or decrease the level of corruption for both your party and enemies. Once your party has defeated the bosses known as Entoma Queens, Arata can summon them to fight for you to inflict heavy damage on your foes. Finally, you can switch genres in the heat of battle to genres like shooting, slot machine, fighting, puzzle solving and billiards.
Should you ever find yourself stuck when traversing the open world, Shina and certain party members are able to use unique bug skills if they possess a form of the Entoma known as a “Buggy”. This is helpful in dungeons and in any other areas where you are notified that bug skills can be activated. In the latter portion of the game, you may come across the Strain Area, a location of an endless set of doors that lead you to random locations. It is home to the Pain Area, where the strange Ludens reside and lurk and if you manage to defeat them after braving several floors, you are rewarded with extremely rare and exclusive drop items.
The game is not limited to the World’s Odyssey as you may switch over to the real world and navigate through Arata’s PC game interface from the real world. Mysteries and hidden secrets are uncovered by visiting the real world and observing the events unfold from Arata’s narrative and perspective. Conversing with friends, browsing conversation backlogs, examining key items, reviewing cheat codes and exploring Arata’s hometown are actions that can be performed. The enigmatic events of World’s Odyssey and the unexplained circumstances in the real world connect and tie back to one another as you find clues to solve the grand mystery at large.
Visually, the character designs are bright and artistically detailed that showcases the game’s strengths with facial animations, body gestures and movement. It’s disappointing the environments don’t share the same kind of attention with open environments appearing spacious but bland and dull in the larger scheme of things. In a stark contrast, the open field map could use some refining as a person can only look at so many circles or squares before figuring out on their own where they have to go and what they are searching to find.
Death end re;Quest is a game with much promise that sadly falls short of its potential. As a JRPG and visual novel hybrid title, the combat is engaging but the game is dragged down by the slow pacing. It takes a while for the game to pick up speed with an excessively linear world. This game is not for the faint of heart as there are numerous death scenes and bad endings. Much like the previously released Mary Skelter: Nightmares, this game is best enjoyed in quick and short sessions.
PROS (+): Intricate Character Designs, Engaging Combat, Intriguing Plot
CONS (-): Pacing Issues, Bland Environments
SCORE – 7.5/10
This review is based on a digital copy of Death end re;Quest on the PlayStation 4 provided by Idea Factory International