Idea Factory International and Compile Heart are mostly known for their moe Hyperdimension Neptunia JRPGs filled with jokes, references and visual novel goodness. So where does Death End re;Quest fall into the hierarchy? The answer is a lot more complex than what meets the eye.
In Death End re;Quest players will take on the role of Shino Ninomiya, the game’s cute heroine, and Arata Mizunashi, the game’s nerdy male protagonist. Players will be able to swap between these two characters on the fly thanks to the extremely unique way the game plays out.
The story of Death End re;Quest is not for the faint of heart. If you’ve played a title such as Doki Doki Literature club, you’ll know just how dark visual novels can be at times and Death End re;Quest is no stranger to this. The opening sequence for example includes a graphic description of your character being eaten alive by a monster. Psychological thriller is what comes to mind as you delve deeper into the game’s story and world.
Death End re;Quest sets itself up quite slowly. The introductory chapter will take you a good hour or two of wading through a very complex set-up. Once you’re through this, the real game begins and things escalate quite quickly. The premise behind the story is the fact that a videogame designer has mysteriously disappeared from the real world and all development has come to a standstill on the game she was working on. A year has passed since her disappearance and suddenly the servers for the game world have booted up again. Our main male protagonist who happens to work at the same company as the missing girl gets dragged into the drama and has to investigate just what the heck is going on.
So, to summarize, Shina Ninomiya, the missing videogame dev is currently trapped in the virtual reality MMORPG she was working on, “World’s Odyssey” and her colleague Arata Mizunashi has to assist her in not only getting her out of there but also helping her regain memories she has lost over the course of her one-year disappearance. That’s a lot to take in but the game does an absolutely stellar job of explaining all of this to you by interspersing good gameplay and lengthy visual novel segments.
As the story goes on, you’ll come to realize that “World’s Odyssey” is not what it seems. Glitches, bugs and monsters are running amok. Code has gone rogue and Shina is in great danger most of the time as she tries to fend for survival. Along the way she’ll be introduced to a colourful cast of characters which joins her party and helps her out on her adventure through the broken videogame world. Arata on the outside world does his bit too being able to alter the flow of battle by hacking into the game and changing the code that runs it. The entire premise behind Death End re;Quest’s game world and the real world interacting is excellently done and you can tell that Compile Heart and Idea Factory International have put a lot of effort into not only crafting their game world so well but bringing it alive with its intricate plot.
Gameplay in Death End re;Quest is where things are a slight bit of a letdown if you were expecting a traditional JRPG. The story as mentioned above is intricately woven throughout every aspect of the game and this includes dying or being instantly defeated by enemies. The premise behind Death End re;Quest is in the game’s name. You need to reach a death ending and then redo your quest in other to progress. This happens quite often and once the puzzle pieces fit together, the satisfaction you feel is unparalleled. If you think of games such as Zero Escape or Danganronpa, Death End re;Quest’s visual novel segments and the gameplay it revolves around will be highly familiar to you and therein lies its beauty.
The in-game environment visuals are not exceptionally gorgeous but characters and enemies are great. The character designs are by far one of the best aspects of the game since not only are they both extremely well detailed, but they aren’t cookie cutter generic schoolgirl anime designs. Shina’s entire outfit and look for example is quite unique with her armour and weaponry fitting her character. Plus she has spider legs coming out of her dress! The same can be said for her other party members too regarding uniqueness since they follow different colour schemes to her and have their own personal flair. That said, each character’s “glitch” mode is bordering on the extremely lewd side of things and it’s an unnecessary design decision. Other Compile Heart and Idea Factory games don’t have the same level of lewdness to them and Death End re;Quest’s transformations seem a bit too much to be completely honest.
Combat in Death End re;Quest is a mixture of turn based gameplay with genre breaking elements thrown in thanks to Arata being able to alter the game world’s code. This means you can switch from third person turn based to first person shooter if you make use of his skills in battle. It’s unique and a very welcome addition to the game’s mechanics. The addition of glitches or bugs on the battlefield also introduces some added flavour to the battles since they can buff or nerf you somewhat. Being able to learn new skills just by chaining together combos is also a very rewarding gameplay mechanic and pushes you try out new attack combinations to see what you can unlock.
The voice acting in Death End re;Quest is a bit of a letdown in that not every single section is fully voiced. Some visual novel segments have voiced segments whereas others don’t and it just breaks the entire flow of the game. Especially when you’re knee deep in a hardcore story segment and then the voice just cuts out and you’re left to read the text in silence.
Overall, Death End re;Quest is a great game with varied gameplay that switches between combat, storytelling and mystery solving while trying its best to not confuse its players. The lewdness aside, the story the game tells is compelling and will keep you hooked throughout should you actually read through all the visual novel segments. Players that invest their attention into the game’s puzzle mystery solving gameplay with Arata and Shina’s stories intertwining will find a lot to like and we’re glad that Compile Heart and Idea Factory International took a risk to develop a game like this that’s somewhat different to their other titles. Death end re;Quest is definitely worth picking up and playing through, just be warned that it can get quite lewd and there are some vivid graphic descriptions of death and violence interspersed throughout its story.