Two years after Dark Cloud was released, Dark Cloud 2 came into being as Level-5’s second title. Other than keeping with certain elements of what made Dark Cloud what it was such as randomly generating town floors, town building simulations, weapon upgrades and degradation, Dark Cloud 2 was an entirely different experience. Set in a Steampunked setting and having nothing to do with the first, the Noble Maximilian and the Royalty from the future Monica band together in order to save that future from an Evil Emperor that would destroy it through the past which is Max’s present. It works.
I had played a fair amount of Dark Cloud 2 back in the day and had a much higher nostalgia factor for it than it’s predecessor. Like Dark Cloud and Rogue Galaxy, Dark Cloud 2 has also been ported from the PS2 to the PS4 and unlike Dark Cloud, I loved every minute of it. The largest issues that I had after my initial twelve hours of the previous title were gone in a heartbeat as Dark Cloud 2 handles like a dream.
Other than the tutorial in which Monica epicly takes a ceremonial sword in order to cut her pursuers down, the first couple hours will be spent with Max in order to get a handle on a good portion of the game’s features. While Toan from the original could only act in melee short of items requiring other party members for ranged attacks, both Max and Monica have their respective melee and ranged weapons. Following in similar footsteps, weapons can be leveled up and upgraded through their use in the dungeons. Unlike the first however, things became a little different but in a good way.
In Dark Cloud leveling a weapon was as easy as setting in the materials you wanted to upgrade with and then selecting level up. Dark Cloud 2 instead levels up a weapon and requires the player to break down a variety of materials to then synthesize through the usage of points. One addition is one point, two would be two, so on and so forth. Each item that you can break down to infuse however will have it’s own value meaning that some items will add two points for lightning damage while another will add in three. Both cost a single point but paying attention to which materials offer how much is key to making the most of those points.
With new weapons being easy to get your hands on, I found myself keeping my default weapon and building it up into a new one extremely useful unlike the first Dark Cloud where I just moved from weapon to weapon. Morphing (building up which is goes by in the menus) follows a small tree of sorts in which different branches require different stats in order to move to. These stats all make a return from the original such as various elemental or creature specific damage types. If you want to add more than a single point then it’s easily done as long as the weapon actually has the points to insert that many infusions. If not it’ll have to wait for the weapon’s next level.
Unlike the first in which Dungeons followed a specific floor system, Dark Cloud 2 has a visual map in which you can select the room in which you want to move into next. Like the original a key will be needed in order to complete the room and make your way forward. One a room is down however it brings you back to the map selection in which you can pick any other room to move to or save before heading back in for more. If at any time you think things are simply just not working out then an escape option can be used however it will cost you a portion of your cash flow. Better to use ranged weapons then waste money which is always needed to buy new supplies such as health items and repair powder.
What would a Steampunked title be without something awesome like a Mech? Alright Mechs aren’t exactly Steampunk but to have one in such a setting? It was Epic. Max through the dealing with his mentor obtains access to what is known as the Ridepod. This large wooden and metal machine runs on dual purposed fuel. The first is the obvious in which runs the machine while the second is that it also acts as the Ridepod’s health. Any hit will take away from the fuel gauge so blocking often in order to not get hit directly is just as important here as it is as Max or Monica.
The only issue that Dark Cloud 2 had that Dark Cloud did not was the inventory management system. The first offered a quick and easy auto-sort in which the second removed for some reason. This could make finding items such as the dungeon floor key a pain especially if it was further down in the list. Even if you left space for it above odds are that something would have inserted itself into that spot. Compared to the list of issues that I had with the first however? I managed.
Dark Cloud 2 is an awesome title and an improvement over its predecessor. The controls are responsive, the characters are fun to use even if you get Monica later she’s still a badass with no upgrades, and there’s a mech! I love how Level-5 chose cel-shaded styles for most of its titles as even the cutscenes that aren’t HD-a-fied (making up words) they still look good enough even if there are a few extra pixels showing up.
Sony Computer Entertainment America
Article by Pierre-Yves