By Joe Sigadel / August 19th, 2015
|Title||Dungeon Travelers 2|
|Release Date||August 18, 2015|
|Genre||RPG, Dungeon Crawler|
|Age Rating||ESRB- Mature|
I never felt like there was anything wrong with using sex appeal to sell products. It’s a highly effective advertising tactic, widely used by big and small companies alike. It works best when the content is related to sex, although it can sometimes make the recipient forget what it is they’re buying. It can also be somewhat misleading, like reading a clickbait piece. You could go into Dungeon Travelers 2 after reading an opinion article about how ‘disappointingly creepy’ it is, while not showing one iota of gameplay. However, the only thing I think you would be disappointed in is the writer who told you it was that in the first place. My initial response to this manufactured controversy was flawed, and I wasn’t satisfied with how I handled it. I didn’t know anything about the Dungeon Travelers 2 series, so I mostly picked it apart for making a lot of noise, but, looking back, I wish I’d had the gameplay experience to further back me up. Now I do. I’ve had enough of fairy tales, now it’s time for us to separate the truth from hyperbole. Let’s do some dungeon crawling, shall we?
Dungeon Travelers 2 takes place in your typical Japanese anime-styled medieval/renaissance-age fantasy world. Your character is Fried, a Libra of the Royal Library of the Kingdom of Romulea. Libras are scholars, and Fried has spent a great deal of time studying the monsters plaguing the land. With the help of your friends from the Royal Military Academy, Melvy and Alisia, you set off into dungeons to discover the source of evil which is destroying the protective shrines and put it to rest once and for all. Oh, and if you could capture the hordes of monster girls terrorizing the land, that would be nice, too.
Now, I want to go more in-depth here by talking about the characters. When you’re roaming the dungeons, at regular points, you’ll have conversations with your party members. Sometimes they’ll talk about themselves, other times they’ll talk about an ability they can use or react to a class change you gave them, and they’ll even urge you to be more careful should you let one of them get knocked out. These girls you are fighting with actually have personalities and stories to tell; they do not simply exist to be ogled. When you return from your travels — even if you don’t finish a dungeon — sometimes you’ll get some slice of life scenes – some may even be a little romantic, or a little fanservicey. But that’s as far as it goes. No sexual activity ever occurs in this game. Dungeon Travelers 2 even lampshades this, with one defeated monster girl wondering why Fried never makes advances on her. He is surprisingly stoic about seeing them half-naked with their clothes torn, but he’s simply acting professionally; just doing his job to seal them away in his books so they can’t cause any further harm.
There is a grain of truth, however, as far as ecchi imagery is concerned — it’s there, plain as day. You’re going to see some partial nudity (minus the nipples), that’s something I can’t deny. I may have even seen a butt or two. Perhaps I am desensitized to this sort of thing from being on the internet for so long, because most of it made me barely raise an eyebrow. But one thing that struck me is that, while the CGs are suggestive, the game doesn’t really linger on them too much. It may just be me, but I’d say the ‘M’ rating was because there are more of them in this game. There’s no way around it but to say it: If this really bothers you, and you’re easily offended, this is not the game for you.
I’d like to add that I don’t feel ATLUS USA should be condemned for choosing to localize this title. Rather, they should be commended for taking chances and being bold in front of a games media environment that is often hostile to these niche ecchi games. Some outlets chose to focus on what is most ‘problematic’ to them without looking past the T&A, which is, frankly, such an inconsequential part of the game that it’s distracting from what really counts – the gameplay itself, which we’ll talk about right now.
Dungeon crawlers are usually very difficult, and Dungeon Traveler 2 is no exception. Sure, regular enemies may not pose too much of a problem if you plan ahead and spend your growth points wisely, but boss battles are where the true challenge lies. I’m not exaggerating when I say they will take every ounce of strength you have to get by, and a pyrrhic victory may come with several of your characters downed at once. Yes, it’s tough.
Thankfully, you have plenty of resources at your disposal to help you along the way. At the Royal Library, there is an NPC maid with a perpetually-deadpan look on her face who gives you tutorials and tips, while making sarcastic quips as she’s explaining them to you. Similarly, there is a comedic duo of a bear and penguin when you get close to a dungeon’s end, and they, too, offer very valuable advice on how to play, even giving you hints on how to overcome the area’s boss. If that wasn’t enough, you can sometimes run into bear and penguin NPCs randomly who will feed your party meals and restore you (if you have the gold), as well as a girl who sells unidentified equipment and a few random items of her own. The game auto-maps itself, as well, so you shouldn’t get too lost, as long as you can remember where ladders and warps go. In short, despite the difficulty, Dungeon Travelers 2 definitely gives you a fighting chance.
Strengthening your party comes by gaining levels to acquire growth points, which are then spent on both active and passive abilities. You will, of course, want to get a mix of both to make your group more effective. You can also class change when you reach specific levels, and there is no penalty or loss for doing so. Do it as soon as you can. Of special note here is the Maid class, which initially appears very weak, but can specialize into buffing with the Bard option or debuffing with the Dancer, before moving onto their final class of your choosing. Bards are invaluable for keeping your SP up, health regen, buffing magic attack and defense, and so on. The point is that you will likely want to have one with you, no matter what your group composition might look like. You can also Level Reset to change classes and try out new builds, in increments of 15, 30, 45, and so on. You’ll get your first class change at level 15, and your second at 30. You’re encouraged to experiment, so go with what you feel works best for you.
This probably goes without saying, but you will want to keep your party’s equipment up-to-date, as well. What you find in the dungeons is luck of the draw, but there are things to keep in mind such as weapon speed (which affects turn order), weapon types (which you may have bonuses for, depending on how you allocate your points) and passive effects, which can be positive or negative. Status effects in this game are actually resisted by having the proper elemental resistance, so knowing which element protects against which status is important.
Additionally, your job as a Libra allows you to capture the creatures you defeat in Sealbooks, after you acquire nine of a particular monster. Equipping these to your party members gives them various benefits, as well, and, on top of that, once you’ve made a book of an enemy type, you will know exactly what its stats and weakness are the next time you fight it. There are two types of Sealbooks: one which you can equip on your individual party members, and Grand Sealbooks, which Fried can use to give a party-wide passive effect. Selling extra Sealbooks is a good way to make money, as well, should you need it.
For what it’s worth, the quality of the art is actually pretty damn good. The CG images have a very nice amount of detail to them, and give off a soft, gentle feel. And, yes, they can get pretty risque at times. The battle graphics themselves are pretty standard. While I liked the creative monster designs, there’s nothing here that really amazed me. They’re just static images you fight. Musically, it’s pretty decent, too. I liked the deceptively calm ambient themes that played in each dungeon, and the battle music that changed up now and then. It’s your standard anime RPG-styled soundtrack, but it’s nice to listen to. I clocked in over 88 hours with this title just doing the main story, and you will be spending quite some time yourself with the ladies if you want to accomplish every single thing there is to do. With the option to Level Reset and experiment with builds, you’ll get everything you want out of playing through it once, because there are so many dungeons and hidden paths to explore within them.
Dungeon Travelers 2 weaves a typical fantasy anime tale of good versus evil, but it has lighthearted and heartwarming moments, as well. The friendships and bonds you forge with the ladies of your group have meaningful depth, and are not just a weakly-written excuse for you to get into their pants, in case you happened to be concerned with the writing. This is a well-crafted dungeon crawler that should be taken seriously, whether or not you care for the ecchi parts. I think Dungeon Travelers 2 has a worthy place on your PS Vita shelf next to Demon Gaze. So what could Atlus and Aquaplus “do better” here? They wouldn’t have to do much, in my opinion.
Review copy provided by publisher
Dungeon Travelers 2 is available on Amazon:
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