Death end re;Quest Review (Switch)
Release Date: April 27, 2021
File Size: 8GB
Publisher: Idea Factory
Developer: Compile Heart
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Compile Heart (and to a degree, Idea Factory) have come to be known as a company that knows its niche, and delivers on it. If you’re picking up a Compile Heart/Idea Factory game, you’re prepared for some anime fanservice, a semi-interesting story, and some sort of quirky gameplay that may or may not make you want to rip your hair out halfway through. This is the first Idea Factory game that I have fully jumped into, and after coming out of it, I remain at a crossroads.
Is this Idea Factory game among those that should be played, or is it meant to only be appreciated from a distance? Let’s find out.
Before proceeding, I want to warn that Death end re;Quest is rated M for a reason. It’s not often that I feel a visceral reaction to violence in games, but then again, I don’t play a lot of games where bodily harm is told in detail. So if that is not your thing at all, keep in mind that there are some moments where the story will go into a little bit more detail about the violence inflicted on the characters.
With that warning out of the way, Death end re;Quest begins with two characters battling against a huge monster. But you quickly watch as the battle takes a turn for the worse as Shina, one of the main characters, is killed. At that point, a Death End has occurred and you are taken to another scene, where she is waking up in a bed. Coming to find she has no memories initially, she wanders out and finds that the world is not as peaceful as it should be. A dark corruption known as Entoma has swept through the land, corrupting people and beasts alike.
You eventually meet the character you primarily play as, known as Arata, who is a programmer whose coworker suddenly went missing. From there, things start getting weird as he and his other coworkers at Enigma find themselves wanted by the police for terrorism. Clearly, they need to get to the bottom of what is actually going on both in the real world as well as the game world, World’s Odyssey, which should have been shut down over a year ago.
The story is told via visual novel and 3d cutscenes. During the visual novel portions, sometimes you will have the option to pick a choice, which oftentimes will either lead you to continuing on with the game, or resulting in a bad end. If you end up with a bad end, you will need to reload your file to the last save point. That said, make sure to save often, because you are not always guaranteed to have an option to save when you may need it the most.
The story itself is pretty interesting to watch unfold, as things do start to get weirder and weirder as you continue on.
Death end re;Quest is a turn-based RPG with a bit of a twist. Each character has their own element type, as do the enemies. In the overworld, you can view enemies moving around both in front of your character as well as with your map. If an enemy sees you, they will start to pursue you until you are out of their aggro range. If you wish to engage an enemy in battle, you have the option of firing a blast at them. If it lands, you will have an advantage in battle, with all of your team surrounding the opponent. However, the same concept applies for your enemy should they get the initial strike on you.
Once you are in battle, you will move based on the highest speed. Once it is your turn, you have the option of moving anywhere on the map, with no movement restrictions. You can then choose to either use your basic attack three times, use up to three actions in any order (attacking, guarding, skills, or items), switch your character with the reserve character tied to them, or view the battlefield. While basic attacks will suffice in the short term, you’re better off using skills as much as possible not only for their increased potency, but also how they are key in unlocking new abilities.
If you attack your enemy with physical attacks (magical attacks will have a circle indicator rather than a straight line or a cone), your enemy will be knocked back, which then brings up the quirk concerning this game. If you knock your enemy to the battlefield boundaries or towards an ally, they will bounce off, and be dealt more damage as a result. This is effective on some enemies more than others, as there are enemies that are very susceptible to knockback while others are not. But in general, you will want to take advantage of this battle tactic to deal the most damage possible.
Another quirk to Death end re;Quest is the corruption gauge. As you are attacked or run through field bugs on the battlefield, your corruption gauge will increase. Once you reach 80%, your characters will go into Glitch Mode, which will allow you to deal more damage and perform a specific skill if you choose to use it during battle. Once this character has attacked, their corruption gauge will go down by 10%. If they dip below 80%, they will exit Glitch Mode and the corruption gauge will be reset to 0%. However, if you end up at 100% before you can enter Glitch Mode, the character will die. So you will need to think strategically about when to go for Glitch Mode, and when to hold off on running through all of the field bugs on the field.
Another feature of battle deals with Arata’s skills. Once a certain number of field bugs have been cleared, you have the option of performing Battle Jack. From here, you can choose three options: Code Jack, Install Genre, or Summon. Code Jack allows you to change the effects of the field bugs on the field, such as making field bugs heal HP and SP. Install Genre allows you to change the genre of the game to allow for more damage to be dealt. Finally, Summon will allow you to summon a past boss to fight for you.
Another aspect of the gameplay deals with dungeon crawling, which is unfortunately the weakest point of Death end re;Quest. Most dungeons are either a straight hallway or a convoluted maze. And while one of those should at least be somewhat interesting to go through, neither ends up being very appealing. There is also some backtracking that is done, although most dungeons will only have you explore up to a certain level before diverting you elsewhere (before the backtracking).
Monsters will appear almost everywhere in dungeons and will respawn after a few minutes or if you change floors. There is a dash button that you can click to enable, which will typically allow you to just run past enemies before they realize you were there. There are also treasure boxes that you can pick up, although they won’t be visible on the map until they are collected. Collectables are also available on dungeon floors, and these can be farmed as well.
Scattered through dungeons are camps, where you can save your progress, buy items from the shop, and talk to party members. Your HP and SP will also be healed to full. When it comes to saving, you’ll want to save as much as possible due to the aforementioned bad ends that pop up (or unexpected boss battles). You can usually save during the visual novel portions, although there are a couple moments when you are not able to.
The aesthetics are another weak point for Death end re;Quest. While the visual novel portions are fine, as they are all 2D art and look very nice, the 3D models leave a lot to be desired. In several instances, the models look fuzzy and almost out of focus. The movements of said models in cutscenes are pretty janky and awkward. On top of that, there are some moments where things can lag or slow down. When it comes to the overworld, the models look alright, but again, nothing to write home about. There is also quite a bit of load time between different areas, whether you are navigating between areas or are just moving between floors.
The music in Death end re;Quest, while easy enough to get stuck in your head, isn’t really that impressive. Truthfully, a lot of the music can blend together, with the exception of the opening cinematic song. On the other hand, the voice acting is pretty good, and there are Japanese and English voice options available for those that want it.
There is also a bonus section that contains character art and a collection of CGs that can be viewed at any point, although I would recommend waiting until you’ve finished the game to view them (there are spoilers). And if you buy the game on Switch, you do end up getting all of the DLC baked in, which includes dungeons, items, outfits, and an additional character.
Death end re;Quest is a game that I really wanted to enjoy. While the story is entertaining to watch unfold, it is ultimately bogged down by the gameplay. The dungeon crawling feels tedious, especially when you return to a specific dungeon towards the middle of the game. And the battle system, while fun at first, can get old very quickly if you try and kill everything along the way. Of course, you could go the route of dodging overworld enemies…but then you’d be setting yourself up for failure once the boss fights come into play.
If you are already familiar with Compile Heart and Idea Factory and know what you are getting into, I see no reason not to check this game out. Otherwise, if you’re on the fence, you may be better off just sitting this one out.