Review: Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal (PlayStation Vita)
PlayStation Vita 3 likes 5 comments
- Release Date (NA): August 18, 2015
- Release Date (EU): October 16, 2015
- Release Date (JP): September 25, 2014
- Publisher: Atlus
- Developer: Sting Entertainment
- Genres: dungeon crawler, rpg
- ESRB Rating: Mature
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Welcome to the Kingdom of Romulea, where you take control of Fried Einhard in an effort to quell an ever restless monster population, in a journey that becomes much bigger than a few too many monsters. Also, prepare for women.
Dungeon Travellers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal is a dungeon-crawling RPG that is a sequel to the Japan only title, To Heart 2: Dungeon Travellers. When approaching the game, I wasn't too sure how I would feel about it. Dungeon-crawling is a genre I've generally avoided because I always thought it was lacking even in terms of your more general JRPG turn-based affair. To add onto that, the message that came with the review code said that this title just barely avoided an AO rating from the ESRB, but managed to avoid it by only censoring a small handful of all of the potentially offending images in the game. Needless to say, I was at least intrigued.
In Dungeon Travellers 2, you start out by taking the role of Fried Einhard. Unlike in many games, despite Fried being your main character, he is not actually a combatant. He is what the game calls a Libra. A Libra is capable of sealing monsters within books and is instrumental in this world. In the Kingdom of Romulea, although monsters are something people have gotten used to dealing with, at the start of the game, you learn they're becoming increasingly unruly and problematic. Although they regularly dispatch adventurers to deal with monsters, the only way to permanently trim down the monster population is to seal them within books, which is where your friendly neighborhood Libra comes in.
Your first task as the game begins is being sent off to a cavern to meet up with adventurers and take care of the monster presence. It turns out the adventurers you meet up with are two rookies, as well as your former classmates, Alisia and Melvy. They are female, something you will get very used to throughout the course of the game. Of course, the meeting results in the first of many suggestive screens where the female characters end up in somewhat compromising positions, something else you will get very used to. Eventually you defeat the mutant, a much stronger monster that acts as the boss type of the game, and find a broken shrine. That is where your story begins.
The story itself isn't anything exceptional on a basic level, but the way it's told is fairly fun. The best description I have for many of the interactions present in the game is visual novel. If you've played any visual novels before, you'll immediately understand what I mean. It isn't as if you have many choices, but the way many things are written is reminiscent of visual novels I've gone through. You have your dramatic moments, lighter moments, and then of course, jokes. Dungeon Travellers 2 is littered with humor and references that may make you smile, and they make you firmly plant your palm against your face. It is all entertaining though, and a welcome addition to the experience.
Like all RPGs, as much as the focus is on the story, it's nothing if there isn't at least some competent gameplay backing it up.
Dungeon Travellers 2 presents a first-person, dungeon-crawling experience. As you go through dungeons, it will all be from the first-person perspective which means you have no idea what's around a corner until you take that corner. Dungeons are automatically mapped as you go, which makes backtracking and exploration easier and more enjoyable. Dungeons steadily become more complicated, adding things such as traps, one-way paths, and passable walls. It adds much needed variety to the exploration experience, even if it can become a bit confusing in some dungeons to figure out how to get around.
Combat in the game is relatively straight forward. You have two rows of characters, with a maximum of five characters in your active party. Weapons all have different ranges making them more effective from one row to either the enemy's front or back row, which can add strategy to how you choose to equip characters. When actually in battle, you can attack, defend, use an item, use class skills like magic, or escape. Nothing is all that flashy, with attacks usually being at most a small, basic effect and a sound. That seems par for the course for this style of game though, so I can hardly complain. You can otherwise watch the character order in the fight to know what enemies you may need to prioritize, and there are even team skills you can use that expend a certain amount of TP, the points used for magic and skills, from all characters involved in using it. Overall, combat is a very strategic experience, and you do have to be careful.
Actually getting your characters ready for combat comes with its fair share of customization. When you first meet Alisia and Melvy, they are level 1 and in their first tier of class, Fighter and Magic User, respectively. At level 15, a character is able to move up into a new class, such as Paladin and Sorceress. Every character you get ends up belonging to one of five main base classes: Fighters, Magic Users, Scouts, Maids, and Spielers. All base classes have multiple progression paths to tier three with their own skills and abilities that can allow you to craft unique characters even within the same classes.
You might be thinking that this opens up a lot of room for error in building your characters. That is an entirely accurate assessment, but the developer understood that with so many options and a limited number of skill points gained in each level to allocate to abilities, you needed a solution to screw ups. Beyond the standard solution of simply using multiple saves, which is never a bad idea, you also have the option to reset characters back to the base level for each class change. For example, if you build a character and they aren't to your liking and you're around level 17, you are free to reset to level 15 or level 1 and completely change how you build that character. That does mean grinding a character back up, but that can be worth it if you are really having a hard time with particular class builds.
Now, with each class, you have different equipment they can use. There are, of course, overlaps in what each class is capable of equipping, and that is made obvious enough. The trick with Dungeon Travellers 2 is that you don't have a weapon or armor shop. All of the equipment you get comes from dungeons and is labeled as ??? Sword, ??? Shield, ??? Accessory, etc.. You never know what you got until you pay to get your items identified at one of two places. You can identify at the item shop you have access to, which is where you'll do the bulk of the work, or there is a travelling merchant you eventually encounter who can identify gear whenever your run into them. You can also buy some ??? gear from another travelling merchant who randomly pops up in dungeons.
If you're thinking this will cause a shortage of gear, no worries there. I actually got so many items, I often hit the bag limit and had to leave the dungeon to identify, equip, and sell all the gear I picked up. Dungeons tend to open shortcuts, so it isn't all that inconvenient if you have to detour back out. Also somewhat interesting is that you use the monsters you capture in each battle (they are captured automatically on defeat) to make Sealbooks. Sealbooks can be equipped to offer different stat increases and the like, but a travelling merchant can actually use those books to bestow properties onto gear, which can heavily diversify your item set. This is a fantastic system, and one that you may not understand the value of at first, but becomes apparent as you keep progressing.
To top off all of the gameplay elements, there is even a quest system. This is a system that provides fairly basic quests that generally amount to collecting a certain amount of an item, or killing a certain amount of a monster. What's nice about the system is that rewards you get can range from gear, to healing items, to things you may need to access deeper portions of various dungeons. It's not something you want to ignore while playing.
Last but not least, I want to touch a bit on the suggestive nature of much of the game. Basically every character you meet is female, and the monsters in the game are split between a few different groups, but the one you're most likely to take note of is all the monsters that take on a slightly altered female form. Between them, your characters, and mutants, you see what most would consider to transcend fan service into the realm of ecchi content. I won't consider this a con though simply because that is what the game is, and there is no getting around the fact that if you don't like that, it isn't a game for you.
Overall, Dungeon Travellers 2 is a fun experience that, although difficult, shouldn't be too much to deal with as a good entry point into dungeon-crawlers for the uninitiated. For those looking for a new dungeon-crawling experience who don't mind copious amounts of mostly naked animated women in compromising positions, this is a fantastic buy. You have plenty of dungeons to explore, plenty of characters to pick and choose from when making your party, a good amount of customization, an interesting equipment system, and a decent story to pull it all together.
Although it isn't perfect, it's an experience worth having.
+ Plenty of customization
+ Varied dungeons
+ Interesting equipment system
+ Good humor
- Easy to feel like you made mistakes with customization
- Difficulty curve can jump around a bit too much
- Backtracking can become bothersome in some dungeons
Dungeon Travelers 2 aims for a first-person experience as you crawl through 3D dungeons, and it does a great job. Character designs are good and monsters look nice as well. I generally play my handheld games with the volume off, but even I liked the music enough to keep my volume on.
It's what you expect from a dungeon-crawling RPG. There's difficulty, customization, and the combat is simple enough to learn easily with deeper complexities to add a strategy element in even many basic monster encounters.
It's a JRPG. That means many hours of play time between the story and optional quests, with many more depending on how you choose to play the game and deal with your characters.
out of 10
(not an average)
Dungeon Travelers 2 is a fun experience that anybody with an itch to play a dungeon-crawler should be satisfied with. It isn't the deepest game around and does have certain aspects that may turn people off, but there is enough there that you should definitely get your money's worth.