Compile Heart fans usually know what type of JRPGs to expect from the developer and they generally evolve the Neptunia series. However, it seems that this waifu generator of a development studio is focusing their time on creating new IPs as they expand their portfolio. One of which is Death End Re;Quest, which might take fans of Compile Heart some time to get used to if they go in expecting what they’re used to seeing from the developer.
Death End Re;Quest tells the story of a video game developer named Arata Mizunashi, who has just received an email from Shina Ninomiya, an old colleague of his who just so happened to go missing one year prior. It seems like she is in need of help and trapped inside of a virtual world they created together called World’s Odyssey or W.O.D. Incidentally, the development of the virtual landscape was put on halt when Shina went missing, and now, Arata and Shina must once again partner up in order to get her out of the game alive, but there’s one problem, the game has a success rate of 1%.
At first glance, Death End Re;Quest looks like it can fall in line with other Compile Heart titles, but I think this game has a lot more going for it that allows it to stand out on its own as a new IP and gain widespread interest. During the game, players will switch between dungeon exploring as Shina and the real world as Arata. Balancing out these two modes is crucial for Shina’s survival and progression of the adventure. During the story, players will make crucial decisions that could actually end up in a game over screen. It’s not uncommon for the player to make a wrong turn, even when told they are told not to go a certain direction and do only to end up dying. Yes, this game has its share of gruesome death scenes.
However, Death End Re;Quest isn’t all about shoving depressing imagery in the player’s face either. The game story goes far beyond Shina being stuck inside this virtual world. As players split their time between navigating the fantastical moe world as Shina where her and the rest of the party members can spend time leveling up and gaining skills, they’ll need to also play as Arata which has a more visual novel appeal to it. During the game’s story, the tone will switch to reveal supernatural and horror elements that aren’t quite present in the early hours of the game.
Knowing this about the game actually made me more interested in what this title has to offer. Furthermore, the game features dozens of bad endings that encourage the player to explore and interact with the characters in order to find the best possible path through the dungeon. Character interaction can be completely passed on if the player isn’t in the correct area or if they spend too much time exploring the real world as Arata. There are moments that the player must remember when to switch between worlds so that they can unlock a dialog scene that will get them closer to a character or progress the game’s narrative.
As a fan of Compile Heart titles, this level of storytelling is not something that I was expecting when learning about Death End Re;Quest. Everything about the game’s mentions of the supernatural and cult-like activities that led Shina to being trapped has me wanting to see these character’s to the good ending, that doesn’t seem to easy to get to, but it looks like these death scenes are just going to be part of the package. Death End Re;Quest is unlike any Compile Heart JRPG that I’ve played and it is as far away from the Neptunia series as I could image, besides having similar visuals, and I can’t wait to give it more of my time.
Death End Re;Quest has much to prove to JRPG fans in the west, the game requires the player to invest their time into this new world and discovering these new characters. Although the game does have adorable character designs, it’s as far away from the bright and colorful world of Gamindustri as possible. At this point in time, I feel like this is the type of game that I’m looking for and I’m looking forward to diving deeper into this new world.
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