Note: Review Code provided by Idea Factory International
I needed an excuse to review a horror yuri game in October and since I gushed about this one repeatedly every time I brought it up along with the announced localization of the Nintendo Switch port I figured the time has come to go into detail why I love this game so much. Yes, that is already a spoiler on what I thought about it. Think of this review as me finally explaining why that is as we take a look at Death End re;Quest 2, published by Idea Factory and developed by Compile Heart along with other studios.such as Mizuchi and Silicon Studio.
My review of the first Death End re;Quest HERE.
Platforms: PS4, PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch (Coming in 2022)
Genres: Dark, Horror, JRPG, Moepocalypse, Mystery, Suspense, Visual Novel, Yuri
Length: 25+ hours (1st playthrough. More when going for the EX End and extra content in 2nd Playthrough)
Objectionable Content: High. Game features brutally violent events, CGs and graphic depictions of gory deaths.
Plot Summary: Like last time the Scenario Writer of Corpse Party, Makoto Kedouin, had a hand with this story. It follows Mai Toyama, a victim of an ugly divorce wherein her mother and younger sister Sanae leaving hit her father hard. After countless moments of surviving his abuse one day things got so bad Mai was left with no choice but to fight back. Now an orphan she was taken to the Wordsworth Orphanage in the town of Le Choara. There were rumors Sanae was last seen there so Mai was on a quest to find her. However, Le Choara held a dark secret. It was up to Mai and her two closest allies Rotten Dollheart (Rottie) and Liliana to uncover the truth or face a fate worse than death. Meanwhile the main lead of the first game Shina Ninomiya was on her own quest at Le Choara in search of co-protagonist Arata Mizunashi.
Shina’s secret thoughts on Mai (and/X Rottie)
For readers who have not played Death End 1 the main question will of course be if it is required to play it first before delving into Death End 2. Yes and no. No because DE 2 works as a standalone story. Yes because it is set after the events of DE 1. While the events of DE 1 do not play a huge role for most of the story it is referenced from time to time. Naturally there will be spoilers for players who did not check out the prequel. In short it is not necessary but highly recommended to understand some of the finer details of the series. Besides as mentioned in that review there is some yuri to be found there too.
If Death End 1 was about a cursed MMORPG that also affected the real world then Death End 2 is about a cursed town that appeared safe during daytime but come nightfall was Hell on Earth, similar the setting of Labyrinth of Refrain. However, despite the different motif this is still a Death End game as the monstrosities haunting the streets of Le Choara at night and other abnormalities scream “town near the mountains infected by a computer virus”. Without giving away too much the story has a mix of other iconic horror stories mashed together to create their own nightmarish tale full of sweet and fun moments (with some mean ones too naturally) during the day and a fight for survival at night exploring every dark corner of Le Choara, when available to the player of course to uncover the truth and prevent as many friends from dying as possible. More on that in a bit. Again without giving too much away Death End 1 was less about the “what” and more the “who” and “why” while in Death End 2 it seemed to be clear “who” was up to no good but the bigger questions were “what” and “why”. Personally I enjoyed the story of DE 2 more. Make no mistake. That of DE 1 was pretty good too but DE 2 chilled my spine more, I enjoyed most of the side-characters and it more floored me when the truth was revealed. So yes, there were more reasons I greatly enjoyed the story besides the obvious which we will get to later.
Like most Idea Factory/Compile Heart games the character art and backgrounds in the Visual Novel style cutscenes and CGs are top notch delivering in lighthearted, sexy and creepy/disturbing scenes. Players not comfortable with ecchi may not approve but that is often the case in niche Japanese animated/drawn media. The in-game graphics are the standard IF/CH fare. It gets the job done for the playable characters and scary abominations, referred to as Shadow Matter, they will face, which are a mix of returning foes and new monsters more fitting to the cursed mountainside town motif. One thing though. Because the setting is a town, similar to a game like Dragon Age 2, the dungeon variety is limited to different parts of the town, forests, lakeside and mountainside. Not as much as in the cursed MMORPG world of the prequel. The soundtrack carries over many event themes from the first game along with new ones in the sequel, which I quite enjoy, specifically the first Battle and Boss themes. The OP and ED are also nice. Both English and Japanese voice actors are great. Something I really like about the DE games is the ability to go to the Options during cutscenes and switch the EN and JP dubs on the fly. This is great because most IF/CH games are not fully voiced in English so to avoid silent scenes players can switch to the JP dub. As per usual the EN voiced scenes are the important ones while side stuff is silent.
The gameplay is mostly the same with some differences, additions and quality of life changes. First of all the occasional Choices return. This time not only will choosing a bad option lead to an automatic Game Over or unique Death End sometimes choosing a wrong choice will kill off one or more of Mai’s fellow Wordsworth friends/nuisances. This applies to most students though. Also like last time there is an Episode Chart rewarding players for events seen, including Death Ends. The main difference here is unlike last time getting a Death End in cutscenes does not send them to the Loading screen but they are given the option to go back to the Choice. This is much appreciated because in the first game there were some choices that occurred after a hard fought boss, meaning if the Death End is picked they would have to reload the last save and fight the boss all over again. For players who want to find all Death Ends/Classmate Deaths there is something waiting for them at the end…Moving along since the setting is an orphanage and town there is no “Online” or “Offline” mode but gameplay is again split between two modes, Daytime and Nighttime. In Daytime players can interact with whichever classmates are available in that day at Wordsworth. Fortunately there is no limit to how many can be interacted with. Players are free to talk to all available girls in whichever order they please or end the day and get right to Nighttime where the RPG part of the game kicks in.
Exploration and combat again are similar. As Mai and her friends players run around different parts of Le Choara collecting treasures, accessing new areas or unlocking doors using Mai, Rottie and Liliana’s abilities. Like last time exploration is simple. Actually a little simpler as there is no “Online” and “Offline”. Find areas to use the girls’ exploration abilities (Mai’s PC hack, Rottie’s flight and Liliana’s Curse Ball Smash) and obtain key items to unlock seals. Later on there will be safe codes to find.
As seen in the screen shot there is something else to keep an eye out for, Berserk Shadow Matter. They randomly appear to chase down our heroines. They are unstoppable. Getting caught by them is a Game Over. Fortunately they are not difficult to evade. Mr X or Nemesis these guys are not. They do get trickier in the last few dungeons though. They also randomly appear during battles as the story progresses. Girls caught in their area of attack, which is often wide, when it’s their turn to attack are instantly KO’ed.
Combat remains the same. Turn based battles where players and enemies/bosses can run around freely during their turns and attack with either physical attacks or use Skills. Another much appreciated change was to the colored circle things. In the first game it was unclear which circles granted positive bonuses and boosted the Glitch Meter or caused damage. Here it is easier to identify the good circles from the bad. There are also no “Auto Counters” this time. Later bosses can counter but players are warned when they take the counter stance and what types of attacks they can counter for a few turns. Enemies and bosses all have different weaknesses like last time, including Knockback and the new Super Knockback. There were some enemies and bosses last time that could only take massive damage by smashing into battle arena walls with Knockback attacks. That is the same here and played with more. Players are encouraged to get better at using Knockback to rack up higher combos as figuring out how to do so will allow the girls to repeatedly knock back foes instead of only once per attack. Later battles get tougher as some bosses have a specific strategy to beat while others are a war of attrition. Gameplay changes were all simple but very welcome.
Now to the usual main event of the game reviews here. It took an hour or so for Lily Hopes to show her attraction toward Shina after being introduced in the first game. Rottie’s love for Mai? 5 seconds. To best describe Mai X Rottie is the classic “Genki X Ice Princess” though in Mai’s case it makes sense why she is cold towards everyone for a while. Rottie could see the kindness in Mai and though her advances were strong she never crossed the line. Like Rottie players need be patient with their relationship. It is worth it. As for the adorable Liliana she is like their daughter with one doting on her and the other getting jelly. Besides our main duo some of the other Wordsworth ladies also exhibit cravings for the sacred salad. Some soft and others extra crispy.
HOWEVER, be warned that since this is a horror story not all the yuri in it is, shall we say…wholesome…Readers have been warned.
Overall Death End re;Quest 2 showed me that not only are Compile Heart and their partners good at making fun, sexy and epic tales but heart pounding horror stories too. This being one of my favorites. The main girls are excellent, the side-girls play their roles well, the story was engrossing and left my jaw on the floor when all was set and done, the horror and gruesome factor as effective as the first game, the presentation vintage Idea Factory and Compile Heart goodness and the gameplay similar to the first game but with simple and effective improvements. While I cannot recommend it to everyone but fans of the first game and readers with strong willpower may want to give it a go.