By Benny Carrillo / July 16th, 2018
While it’s true that the Neptunia franchise is a major source of notoriety for Idea Factory and Compile Heart, that’s not the only RPGs they do. Fairy Fencer F, Omega Quintet, and Dark Rose Valkyrie are all examples of other stellar games the company has put out. It shows just have far they’ve come since the days of the original Hyperdimension Neptunia. At Anime Expo this year, Idea Factory International announced that another of these RPGs was coming to the West: Death end re;Quest.
Death end re;Quest looks to be yet another ambitious title. While Omega Quintet focused on idols and Dark Rose Valkyrie dealt with the idea of a traitor amongst you, Death end re;Quest instead deals with a different concept, trying to survive in an online game. If this sounds similar to Sword Art Online, then you’re right. I thought the same thing. However, as games like Princess Evangile has shown, using an existing idea as a base is perfectly fine. It’s the execution that really matters. So what’s the premise here then? Well, let me explain.
Of Virtual Worlds and Missing Programmers ~ Premise
The story of Death end re;Quest seems to revolve around two specific characters. Those two being Arata Mizunashi and Shina Ninomiya (Eng. cv. Kayli Mills). Shina is the lead developer for a game called World’s Odyssey or W.O.D. for short. During development of the game, she goes missing and work on the title halts. However, a year later Arata finds that the game is somehow active. Looking into things he finds that Shina is alive and has been trapped inside the game this entire time. Getting her out will be no easy task, however.
Something is preventing Shina from logging out of the game. Trapped inside and with death being a very real possibility, the two figure out that the only way for Shina to survive is to achieve W.O.D.’s true ending. Of course, this is a Compile Heart game, one of the companies synonymous with the trope of Guide Dang It. And in a very meta-decision, this also applies in-universe. W.O.D. has a 99% rate of failure.
With odds that low Arata and Shina are going to have to wage a war on two fronts. One in the real world and one in W.O.D. in order to achieve the impossible. Hopefully, Shina left a strategy guide lying around the office for Arata to use, cause it sounds like the two are going to need it. Still, I find this premise quite interesting. It almost feels like Corpse Party meets Sword Art Online. But, the story is only one part of the formula. What about the gameplay?
Hacking your way Through Bugs to Victory ~ Gameplay
Death end re;Quest’s gameplay is an interesting mix of systems. Particularly in regards to exploration and combat. Let’s start with exploration. If you played Mary Skelter Nightmares last year, then the idea of field abilities are something you know. While exploring the area you can use your field skills to help you advance past certain obstacles. A similar system looks to be in place in Death end re;Quest.
One of the things we can gather from the trailer is that Shina can utilize insect-like abilities to advance past certain areas. For example, being able to fly across a gap using butterfly wings. While we don’t know a lot about this system yet, it looks like it could encourage exploring old areas again. As for the bug motif, that’s actually quite prevalent in the game. Bugs are a central theme but in the idea of literal insects and coding bugs. In fact, programming is a theme in the battle system.
Combat in Death end re;Quest works like a standard RPG. At least at first. One of the main draws of this game is the fact you can change the battle system mid-fight. Examples that have been given so far are turning the game into a first-person shooter, a fighting game, and even a slot game. While details are scarce, I imagine that certain enemies and bosses will be weak to certain battle systems. As a whole, it’s a creative idea. That said, I still have a few questions about Death end re;Quest that I think will really be key to how well this game is received.
The Unanswered Questions and Mysteries of Death end re;Quest
Let’s start with the battle system first. While the idea of switching genres is something really cool, the first question that pops into my mind is how you balance something like this. There are going to be some genres of games that people will be better at than others. For example, I’m terrible at fighters and FPS games. So, if a boss is meant to be defeated in one of these genres how difficult will it be for me? On the flipside, if you’re really good at either of those genres does that destroy the difficulty of the game? Another question that I have is regarding the various endings.
If Death end re;Quest has a 99% chance of failure, how many times will I need to restart the game and how easy will that be? Now, realistically I don’t expect that 99% to be literal, but let’s take a reasonable example of say three endings and several unique game overs. The game overs can be handled easily. As long as the game doesn’t pull any mean tricks, I can see the game overs being just a neat addition (like in Corpse Party) where you only need to go back and do a few things differently. It’s the endings that really worry me.
Taking our example of three endings (let’s say bad, normal, and true) what happens when I obtain one of these? Do I need to restart the entire game? Is there a new game+? How easy is it to get locked into a specific ending? The reason I wonder about this is that something like this happened in Mary Skelter Nightmares. If you made an incorrect decision in Chapter 3 of that game you were locked out of the True Ending. Considering Mary Skelter Nightmares is a pretty difficult game and has 9 Chapters, this can really sour your experience. While I certainly expect to need a guide to achieve Death end re;Quest’s true ending, I just hope the developers had enough foresight not to make repeated playthroughs a chore. With those questions stated though, let’s close this out.
In the end, I’m really curious about Death end re;Quest and am eagerly looking forward to its release next year. While IFI hasn’t released a ton of info about the game there’s certainly enough to pique your interest. Compile Heart is one of those developer’s that’s earned my trust and I’m more than willing to give this latest experiment a shot once it releases here.
Death end re;Quest is slated for an early 2019 release on the PlayStation 4.
Anime ExpoAXCompile HeartDeath end re;QuestIdea Factory InternationalOperation RainfallopinionoprainfallRPG