Year after year, the association formed by Compile Heart and Idea Factory has accustomed us by now to titles with a comic background or in any case productions not very noble, but not for this reason less satisfying, such as the excellent Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force and above all Mary Skelter: Nightmares. In fact, between an episode and another of the parodic saga of Hyperdimension Neptunia the Japanese union has repeatedly tried to touch the player's emotional chords with more mature and distressing themes. This is exactly what happened with the recent Death end re; Quest a hybrid between JRPG and visual novel already available exclusively on PlayStation 4 from the last days of March. Borrowing some elements that made the sagas of .hack and Sword Art Online famous, the title offered us a rather dramatic and interesting story, but unfortunately proved to be lacking under all the other aspects of production
Surviving in a virtual world full of bugs
Like so many other titles developed by Compile Heart, Death end king; Quest opens with a rather cryptic and confusing movie , during which the virtual alter-ego of the protagonist Shina Ninomiya a Japanese programmer who together with her team was developing a virtual reality MMORPG called World's Odyssey (WOD ). Following a dramatic accident, the girl disappeared without a trace, so the development studio rejected the entire project and the game server was shut down.
Lost for twelve months and also affected by a slight form of amnesia, Shina mysteriously awakens within W.O.D., even ignoring the fact that she is in a video game. Also thanks to the help of a colleague willing to solve the mystery that surrounds her, the developer will slowly remember the details of her life and of the title she developed, but above all she will discover that the only way to abandon the virtual reality in which she is remained trapped will be to get the so-called True Ending .
Guided by the faithful Arata Mizunashi who in the meantime will continue to look for clues to her inexplicable disappearance even in the real world, Shina will therefore have to make her way in a world devastated by bugs and terrible glitches and collaborate with NPCs met along the way.
Flying over the final choice to once again use those delicate themes that in the last decade have already been thoroughly explored by Japanese video games and anime such as Overlord, The Caligula Effect and the aforementioned Sword Art Online some ideas behind Death end re; Quest seem pretty good, such as the creation of a digital world corrupted by the sudden cancellation of the project and the continuous alternation between the sessions in the real world and virtual world. However, the verbosity of the dialogues and the rhythm assumed by the narration, constantly damped by interminable visual novel style sessions, do not justify the thirty hours necessary to reach the end credits and explore the various narrative crossroads, capable of guiding the player towards well 27 Bad Ending . On the contrary, the excessive logorrhea of protagonists and supporting actors could lead you to abandon the product already during the first three or four hours of play, affected by a disarming and unsustainable slowness.
While the game sections of the good Arata have a purely narrative function and develop like real visual novels, those dedicated to the protagonist Shina use the well-established formula to which Compile Heart has accustomed its aficionados alternating endless wordy dialogues with exploration sessions and fighting with the white weapon.
The turn-based clashes already proposed by the Hyperdimension Neptunia saga are back and triggered at the slightest contact with enemies always visible on screen, but this time they are not supported by an equally varied and articulated gameplay. Within a circle that delimits the battle area, Shina and the companions recruited during the adventure can in fact perform a maximum of three actions per turn, which range from the classic physical attack to the offense and support techniques.
Furthermore, in the event of a triple assault, our heroines are able to hurl their targets at the limits of the battlefield, in order to inflict extra damage on them and make them bounce from one end of the ground to the other. game.
Moreover, by strategically exploiting this function to launch an enemy into the arms of an ally, this will automatically trigger an additional and devastating blow, with the risk of considerably smoothing out the overall difficulty of the fighting. As if that were not enough, the guys from Compile Heart have endowed the protagonists of Death end re; Quest of an ability very similar to the mode " Blood Splatter " already seen in Mary Skelter: Nightmares . Action after action, our heroines tend to "corrupt" more and more, until they enter a real mode Glitch that even alters their appearance – depriving them of their clothes on time – and increases their parameters to dramatically. On the other hand, in an attempt to balance the fights to a minimum, the developer has well thought of disseminating the playing field with the so-called Field Bug or colored errors that can inflict huge damage on their contact with our fighters and even serious altered states. For good reason, the player is constantly forced to pay close attention to his movements and above all to foresee the potential shocks caused by his opponents, able to direct Shina and the other girls towards the traps.
Achilles heel of all productions labeled Compile Heart, the technical department of Death end re; Quest seemed to us once again minimalist and extremely dated: the low quality textures and anything but lively make the various dungeons somewhat bare and repetitive , turning the whole crossing into a rather tedious experience.
The same goes for the angular polygonal models of the characters, who despite the unmistakable character design edited by Kei Nanameda (Mary Skelter: Nightmares, Trillion: God of Destruction) are lacking in details. The catchy soundtrack composed of Gesshokukaigi and Yuuki Sugiura (Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online) carries out its task without infamy and without praise, while the tracks proposed by the now stainless formula English / Japanese were able to convince us with well-chosen combinations and an overall rather high level of acting.