It’s always exciting to see new names offer their take on any genre. They might not always be a hit, but they often bring something new. This could be a story, mechanics, or even style. This was the case going into the original Dusk Diver. It was a charming brawler RPG that had crazy powers and exciting mechanics. It resonated with a lot of players, resulting in Dusk Diver 2 building on the original foundation. With lessons learned and a new foe to beat, is Dusk Diver 2 a must-have sequel, or did they fail to capture the same experience?
Unlike a lot of games, Dusk Diver 2 takes place after the events of the first game. Relationships are already established, characters are known, and some pretty big spoilers exist. If this is a concern, there is a brief recap listed under the gallery.
What the Recap Section Looks Like
Having seen a fair number of these, Dusk Diver 2 finds a good balance between informative and accessible. Even if other games do it better, a 20-minute-long explanation of the events will turn off more people than a roughly 12-paragraph overview of the previous events. For anyone who did not play the first game or forgot what happened, I do suggest checking it out.
As for the sequel, a new threat has appeared, so it comes down to you and your team investigating. It starts off incredibly slow, playing up the “normal” girl who also saves the world, slowly introducing anomalies and intriguing details before ultimately revealing the primary antagonist that makes for a thrilling challenge.
Between stories, segments will be fights and straightforward objectives. Typically you either fight Chaos Beasts, or you go to a location, collect or find something and defeat them along the way. These sections would be much better if there wasn’t a weird mix of fun and frustrating.
Executing combos against various Chaos Beasts can be fun in the same way Dynasty Warriors is engaging. Initially, combos are simple, with most of the diversity coming from swapping between Yumo, Leo, and so forth. Each has its own play style, so Yumo is more of a brawler, Leo is more of a single target brute with an explosion mechanic, and so forth. They’re different enough to have their unique style of play but not so different that any of them will cause a skill issue.
Where this falls short is the aforementioned Dynasty Warriors quality. Most enemies will take a hit and can be juggled near endlessly without any kind of complicated combo, they just tend to have a lot of health. Dynasty Warriors try to avoid this by having a lot of enemies with very little health, whereas you could do the same combo five times in a row and still not kill an enemy on normal. It gets better over time, especially once you can buy upgrades or increase your level, but it makes the early game drag. Especially once more complicated enemies are added, like the robots with the ranged attacks that can be devastating without some defense or good blocking.
Naturally, it isn’t all bad. There is a dodging system, which slows down time when you use it, special attacks that help defeat multiple enemies, and even a super mode that can make quick work of foes. Some higher-tier enemies can withstand your attacks and quickly punish you. Instead of overwhelming them, it’s about reading their moves and knowing when to engage. After doing it for a bit, there will be an opportunity to stun or finish them. The nice thing is breaking their guard generally requires specific moves, making it a choice of a faster break and to do damage or doing more damage with a slower break. The answer will vary; it’s just nice to have.
Beyond divisive combat, Dusk Diver 2 likes to make progression clear. There is a pretty comprehensive tutorial, which can suck the fun out of the initial hour or two, with everything feeling scripted. Even this wouldn’t feel too bad if they weren’t so repetitive. A lot of the tasks are the same core thing, just this time, something different happens. You’ll do a fair number of delivers or meet people who will swing into whatever is needed to progress forward. Again, it isn’t bad; it just stands out.
In some ways, that is the weakest point of Dusk Diver 2. Instead of being a tight game in a small but well-crated world, it feels like they tried to expand endlessly, even to its detriment. The world feels incredibly soulless, especially for a game with such expressive and stylized characters.
Side Characters Barely Feel Real
The image above shows what the average town area looks like. To save processing power, characters too far away will be rendered as a single color, with any designed character like the woman without much of a face or individuality. You’ll also run into many similar designs or textures with even less personality because they don’t wear glasses, or you see multiples of them doing the same goofy dance or mechanic, just with different color clothing. Not only do they make the world feel incredibly fake, even the names make no sense and dehumanize them.
Here you can see a quest giver, which takes the same simplistic design, with the name “Little Boy.” I would peg this character for someone in their 20s or at least a teen. If nothing else, having a character named little boy towers over you just seems odd. The aforementioned woman has a similar disconnect, as she is a “Middle-Aged Woman.” I’d say the slump and grey hair is more accurately “Elderly Woman,” not that there is a reason for them to not be called… literally anything besides a description.
Dusk Diver 2 Review
As fun as Dusk Diver 2 can be, it’s an uphill battle. An initial couple of hours are rough, with new moves and the ability to enhance your characters starting to bring the experience together. Bosses also break the mold, forcing players to adopt more profound tactics or at least a different experience. Beyond that, while I applaud them for trying to make Dusk Diver 2 have an enormous scope, something that is best seen with some of the creative levels or mechanics like the air hockey table fight, the rather soulless world leaves a strong negative impression. For these reasons, fans of the first will probably enjoy the second, with anyone who wants simple fun also likely getting a kick out of it if you give it a couple of hours.
[Editor’s Note: Dusk Diver 2 was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided for review purposes.]