Compile Heart is known for its refreshing and groundbreaking RPGs, aimed at gamers who enjoy Japanese styled games. Death End Re;Quest is all that AND totally over the top in everything it does. Read on!
The story starts out a dime a dozen: some pretty girl with amnesia awakens in a world which feels strangely familiar to her. She slowly remembers things like her name (Shina Ninomiya) and the predicament she has gotten herself into. Shina’s stuck in World’s Odyssey, a failed VR MMORPG. Come again? A massively multiplayer online role playing game within a virtual reality. In any case, Shina can’t seem to log off. She soon discovers that the only way of escape is to finish the game. Tricky, seeing that she’s the only player around and that the NPCs are slowly getting taken by the many bugs within the games. Are they the same bugs which caused World’s Odyssey to become a faillure?
Luckily, Shina can count on Arata Mizunashi. Before Shina dissapeared, more than a year ago, they were colleagues working on the the same game: World’s Odyssey. Now he helps her to finish the game. He will be needing all of his game developers skills, some cheat codes and a lot of hacking to be of any help at all. In the meanwhile he tries to find out why Shina dissapeared and where she could be. If she’s playing the game, she should be somewhere out in the real world, hooked to VR-goggles. Time is of the essense as Shina is infected by a bug. She has to hurry up lest the bug takes complete hold of her.
The story and gameplay constantly switch from Shina to Arata and back. She gets to experience a typical RPG, not unlike Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. Fully loaded with dungeons, chests and NPCs within a fantastical and life threatening world. He gets totally ‘Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney’ while trying to find out the truth on Shina’s disappearance.
The battle system is -hold on for the understatement- quite unique. You get to move freely while you’re choosing whether to cure yourself and/or attack your adversaries. All the while the enemy patiently awaits its turn. You get to choose three actions during your’s. Anyone unlucky enough to get pummeled by you often gets launched and flies over the battle field. Not unlike how the balls within a billiard game bounce off the sides. Launch your enemies against the non-discriminating bugs on the battlefield to have them lose even more health. Beware though: some bugs restore health or even attack points. Try to launch an adversary to one of your team mates and watch as your friends hit the bug to another part of the field. This unique gameplay element will have you wondering why other developers never thought of the idea!
By touching bugs, they disappear from the battle field. As soon as just a few are still standing, Arata gets to hack the game and to temporarily change the battle to another gaming genre: a platformer, a shooter, a puzzle game, a fighting game… Not a gimmick but a well thought out gameplaying element which is especially needed to defeat some of the most nasty adversaries.
When Arata’s neither programming nor hacking, he gets his thinking cap on and searches within the real world for he truth behind Shina’s sudden dissapearance. This part of the gameplay resembles visual novels. As in: a lot of tekst. No, not just ‘plenty’. Really, a lot of text. Quite some. Indeed. And a colourful cast of characters who are keen on either helping or hindering you during your quest.
Don’t be fooled by the anime-like features of the heroines: Death End; Request is not for the faint of heart. Even a wrong answer to a seemingly simple question could prematurely end the game for you. But first you’ll endure a very lengthy torture. This game does not mince words, it minces you! A sign of fan service or some sort of guilty pleasure of the developer? Who knows… Let’s chalk it up to fan service, which is present in spades! From the ever happy kawaii to the sinister gothic Lolita. They even perform their most powerful attacks with just a bare minimum of clothing. And, let’s not forget, voice options can be set to Japanese. Subarashii desu!
The first few hours of Death End Re;Quest are mostly spent by watching and reading. Watching and reading. It takes quite some time before you’ll get to the first dungeon and delve into the action. Most of the time, you’re stuck in a visual novel. Like reading a book on your television. Which is not a bad thing: this ‘book’ has been written by people who know how to write. At times it gets a bit too much, though. The developers must have noticed this since they were so kind to include a save function which can be used during conversations. Most definitely not an exaggerated luxury.
Death End Re;Quest lets its gameplay shine most brightly during battles: they’re quite simple to grasp and at the same time offer a deep gameplay mechanism. The attacks are gorgeous to watch. Especially when combo’s are triggered or when enemies get wacked from one of your allies to the other.
Don’t get put off by the slow, slooow start… Or you’ll be missing out on a true treasure! Death End Re;Quest is a multi-sided diamond which shines brightly in all of its facets and which is sure to indulge and surprise you, even after quite a many gaming hours.