Title: Dusk Diver 2
Developer: Wanin International
Release Date: August 30, 2022
Reviewed On: PS4
Publisher: Idea Factory International
The original Dusk Diver is a cult classic action title that significantly struck particular players, gradually creating a dedicated fandom yearning for more enticing brawling. Further, it even boasted a genuinely likable cast and decently engaging premise, perhaps unintentionally crafting grander expectations for what a potential sequel should provide. And, now that said sequel has finally been officially localized, dedicated fans of the first game will undoubtedly enjoy what’s brought to the table, even if it’s at the cost of not inviting new players and simply being more of what the original game offered.
Throughout Dusk Diver 2, players take control of the protagonist Yang Yumo and several of her close companions following the events of the first title. It is worth mentioning that while the essential gist of this story can be understood without having played the first game, there’s a vast degree of context, character relationships, and lore that will go over newcomers’ heads.
There is an in-game resource that recaps and informs players of what happened in the first title, and it’s all densely written, but it’s undeniably best to have played the first Dusk Diver before playing this sequel. Character dialogue and story events are plentiful, so if you’re going into this game for narrative purposes, then I can’t implore you enough to play Dusk Diver 1 first.
For that reason, it’s borderline impossible to summate the premise of Dusk Diver 2’s story and characterizations without going off on tangents about what led to these new scenarios, so I’ll refrain from doing so. The setting is of unique note, though. Taking place in Ximending, a district within the city of Taipei, a tremendous amount of Dragon Energy, a unique power-infused resource, is housed. Unfortunately, due to this intense concentration of energy, harmful beings fittingly named Chaos Beasts emerge, causing inestimable havoc with normal humans being unable to see them. Yumo and several others have the power to combat these threats and those utilizing their existence for their own ends.
Combat in Dusk Diver 2 is action-focused, relying on reflexes and RPG upgrade mechanics to best foes. Every character has light and heavy attacks that can be chained together to perform various combos, also infusing the playable cast with an SP gauge that acts as fuel for special high-damaging maneuvers. The protagonist, Yumo, is of average power and boasts decent agility, making her ideal for newer players to utilize. On the other hand, the ever-reliable Leo is a sturdy sedate tank who excels at breaking enemies’ stances, causing them to become more vulnerable for party members to wail. One of the more unique combatants is Le Viada, a gunner ideal for crippling foes from afar, though at the cost of being somewhat fragile.
Each character plays distinctly, and the ability to swap who’s controllable in the midst of combat adds further layers of strategy when planning actions on-the-fly. Adding on to the strategy is the level-up system which is done manually via the menu. Several stats can be chosen to be enhanced, such as Strength, Luck, Stamina, and Endurance. Their effects are all transparently depicted, and the fact that every character’s stats can be separately upgraded leads to relatively painless decision-making. Moreover, battle skills can be actively learned, and choosable equipment also determines each member’s overall efficacy.
While Dusk Diver 2 isn’t necessarily challenging, consistently engaging with these mechanics is necessary for one to prevail against continually growing threats. And, despite how many resources and skills there are to learn, it’s all relatively approachable after taking some time to investigate the menus. Similar to the hefty amount of story dialogue, the tutorials are densely worded, so all mechanics can be easily understood by those willing to invest reading time merged with combat practice.
Still, getting a proper feel for the combat can take a good chunk of time. Movement isn’t exactly smooth, and there are no magnetic properties to stringing combos, so adequate positioning is a must. For that reason, combat isn’t constantly fulfilling or even gratifying to engage in since a seemingly meager deviation of one’s intended combos can lead to empty swings and wasted SP. However, the double-edged nature of that design choice provides a greater sense of catharsis when thought-out plans succeed.
The hub town houses various facilities such as restaurants selling food to provide temporary stat buffs in mostly takeout varieties and an upgrade facility. Further, cosmetic alterations are unlocked at a certain point of progression, and many sidequests can be undertaken, comprising aiding named characters, resolving Chaos Beast bounties, and collecting a certain number of materials. The explorable town adds a sense of homeliness when coupled with the tasks players can participate in, even if everything is quite simple. In a loose sense, the meal systems and town activities can be compared to what the Yakuza franchise is prominently known for, though to admittedly far less compelling and ambitious extents. The busy mindless quests don’t provide much substance, and the character quests are endearing to see unfold, though their actual gameplay actions are forgettable.
Dusk Diver 2’s performance on PlayStation 5 is stellar, with nothing of notable negativity standing out. However, the script does contain noticeable typos, albeit they are few and rather minor. Nevertheless, much care was put into this localization, and it all holds up nicely, with random NPC dialogue and the first game’s recap being on equal standing regarding reading quality.
Dusk Diver 2 is an enjoyable action experience where players can embrace character customization, upgrading, and cosmetic alterations at their leisure. The fusion of congenial hub activities and plentiful combative encounters provides a fulfilling gameplay balance where neither side overtakes the other. Even though the narrative is not exactly all that memorable, the assignments are sometimes feeble, and the combat isn’t for everyone, what is here will certainly engage fans of the first game. This is simply more Dusk Diver, for better or worse.
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