Game Review: Death End Re;Quest (PC)

Following on from its PlayStation 4 release earlier this year the immersive Death End Re;Quest comes to Windows PC via Steam. What can one expect to receive from this new IP from the publishers of Hyperdimension Neptunia? Let’s take a look and find out!

Title: Death End Re;Quest
Publisher: Idea Factory International
Developer: Compile Heart
Platform: Windows PC (Steam)
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Audio: Japanese & English
Subtitles: English (White)
Local Players: 1
Online Players: N/A
Install: YES (23GB)

Our View:

Originally released for the PlayStation 4 in Japan during 2018, and more recently in Europe and North America in February of this year, Death End Re;Quest is the new JPRG experience from Compile Heart and Idea Factory that blends the real world with the virtual world for an immersive experience like no-other.

Taking place in a fictional variation of the present day Death End Re;Quest follows the adventure of Shina Ninomiya and her co-worker Arta Mizunashi as they work with each other to restore Shina’s memories after she finds herself waking up within the VRMMORPG world of World’s Odyessy; a world which once was thought shut down. This adventure sees Arta guide Shina through World’s Odyessy, which is an unfinished game that the duo previously worked on before Shina mysteriously vanished a year earlier, as they meet new characters and attempt to initiate the true ending so that Shina can be returned to the real world.

During this quest to save Shina the duo, along with their new found companions, soon learn of a dark secret and the involvement of a mysterious cult that plans to merge the real word with the virtual world. What started off as a simple story of rescuing a friend from a virtual world soon spirals into a much darker storyline and things become even worse for Shina and Arta when a mysterious group appears within the game and causes chaos for those trapped within it. The story within Death End Re;Quest is a beautifully crafted dark story that goes beyond the twisted storylines of similar franchises, such as Sword Art Online and Accel World, to deliver something that is truly unique and thought provoking throughout; and that’s before we even talk about the gameplay content.

Never has a games story gripped me as much as this and the story only gets darker and more twisted the further your progress. Even then the story diverges into multiple endings with both True & Normal endings being offered alongside individual character endings for the notable characters that players encounter. Naturally I’m not going to spoil the story, as that is one of the key features of this game and it should be experienced firsthand, but if you enjoyed the story elements of being trapped in a video game or the real world being mixed with the digital world then Death End Re;Quest has something to offer you.

This uniquely immerse storyline is presented through the traditional Japanese manner of visual novel dialogue sequences that are mixed with voiced and un-voiced scenes. For the most part this will see characters talking to each other about the events that are unfolding and very little time is left for the mindless banter found within other Idea Factory published titles. Some comical banter and character building does appear but for the most important it focus entirely on the story and the task at hand. That’s not all either, as some visual novel scenes will have multiple choice options presented with different dialogue being awarded depending on the response chosen.

As the game title suggests “Death End” is a possible outcome meaning if the wrong choice is selected it will result in Shina or Arta dying. This “instant death” mechanic could be seen as an annoying feature but it does have its own benefits. Dying in the game will allow you to restart from your last saved point (so saving often is advised) and any experience gained will be carried over into your save state; hence “ReQuest” in the game title. This mechanic also applies when dying at any point in the game. Additionally in order to get 100% completion, and to unlock additional bonuses, all death ends have to be seen alongside natural progression. Be warned though these death end sequences, although not visually graphic, are depicted in a rather graphic manner.

At this point you might be thinking how does this game play exactly? Well it is here that we introduce the unique aspects that Death End Re;Quest has to offer. Death End Re;Quest is played from two different perspectives; the first of which is played through Shina’s view-point of being trapped inside the game world of World’s Odyssey and as such players will control Shina through traditional JRPG dungeon-exploration scenarios. Each location within the game world acts as a new dungeon to explore with monsters appearing on the map as well as items on the map being collected in order to progress forward.

The second perspective of Death End Re;Quest meanwhile is played through Arta’s perspective in the real world and this is done through visual novel sequences and multi-choice options that can either result in Shina or Arta’s death depending on the circumstances. In this case Shina’s perspective is played mostly through the traditional JPRG aspect while Arta’s perspective is played entirely through visual novel elements. This blend of gameplay offers a refreshing change of pace when compared to similar titles; but more importantly than that it is required in order to help progress the story along.

During Shina’s perspective she and her team will locate mysterious items scattered around the dungeons and in order to progress forward players are required to change to Arta’s perspective so that he can research the item that Shina found. Upon successfully completing this research, which in turn is played simply through visual novel gameplay, Arta will discover code that can be used in the game to fix bugs and unlock new portions of the game. At which point players will change back to Shina’s perspective and continue playing in standard JPRG format by exploring the dungeon and defeating monsters.

Just like Hyperdimension Neptunia, and in turn Fairy Fencer F, upon making contact with a monster in the dungeon it will trigger the fight in which the turn-based JPRG gameplay will start. Here players will be able to move their character anywhere around the area and chose between a simple triple strike attack or select up to three different types of actions including Standard Attack, Special Attack, Defence or Recovery Items. Each character also has a distinctive type of attack and ability; for instance Lilly Hopes specialises in long-range attacks while Shina is mid-range and close combat. Some characters meanwhile are better at performing long-distance magic attacks or recovery spells and as players progress through the game more characters will become accessible as team-mates.

This combat becomes a little bit more complex and intuitive by later making elemental effects more important, both for enemies and characters, and as such understanding each characters abilities, effects and skills become vital to surviving. It’s not just strategic planning that is required either as each character has a glitch gauge alongside a health bar and if the glitch gauge reaches 100% or the health bar depletes then that character will die. The caveat to this is that if glitch gauge goes over 80% then that player will enter glitch mode which will unlock access to stronger special attacks as well increase the overall attack and defence of that character.

Activating glitch mode occurs automatically when the gauge goes over 80% but it is a small window between activation and death; especially if multiple enemies are nearby. Getting attacked by enemies will result in the glitch gauge being filled but in addition to that the field will have bugs which can increase the glitch gauge as well as deal or restore damage depending on the bugs available on the field. In retrospective investigating the field, which can be done at any point, as well as viewing the field from different angles, which can also be done by changing viewing perspective, is crucial to surviving in combat and as per usual winning a battle will award the player with experience points and items for use in and out of battle.

Furthermore to aid players in combat Shina can call on Arta for support and use Hack Mode. This mode can be used once more than 50% of the bugs have been cleared and in doing so Arta can briefly hack the game and change the rules of combat. For example the gameplay is turn-based-combat by standard but if Hack Mode is activated you can choose between different gameplay genres including Fighting, Shooter, Card Game and Slot Machine; with each having different effects. Sadly it is not a feature I used often; but it can help turn the tide of battle during those fights which seem problematic; especially the seemingly never-ending-zone that sees the player fight an ever-growing-selection of monsters.

As with all JPRG’s players will be able to customise characters with new weapons and equipment but unlike more traditional RPG titles, such as Final Fantasy for instance, upgrading weapons and equipment is not required in order to progress forward; but it can aid in battles with different weapons and equipment having supportive effects such as increased attack or defence. These items can usually be picked up from the shop but sub-quests, which are mostly ‘fetch style’ quests, will award players with new equipment alongside recovery items and money.

Death End Re;Quest may look overly complicated and intrusive to your gaming experience; but in reality it is simple and one of the best games I have ever experience. Sure enough the visuals and base gameplay are pretty standard and mediocre; but the story that is being presented is both immersive and sublime. It’s not just the story either as the characters themselves are adequately flushed out with enough backstory and depth to make you start caring for both their in-game and real world origins. It is thoroughly enjoyable experience that invites you to play and play again until nothing is left; and if you do decide to play again then all experienced earned carries over making you an unstoppable power-house.

If you enjoyed the stories found within Sword Art Online, Accel World or even Digimon than you’ll enjoy what Death End Re;Quest has to offer; but put simply Death End Re;Quest is an immserve experience that perfectly merges visual novel with turn-based combat to deliver an exhilarating story that you won’t want to end.

Score: review-stars-5

Death Re;Quest will be available for the Windows PC (via Steam) on the 16th May 2019. Alternatively the game is also available for the PlayStation 4 and features the same content as this Windows PC release.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has produced content for ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.

One Response to Game Review: Death End Re;Quest (PC)

  1. Pingback: Death end re;Quest 2 Announced for Western Release This Year | AnimeBlurayUK

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