Dusk Diver 2 Review

Dusk Diver 2 by developer Wanin International and publisher Idea Factory InternationalSony PlayStation 4 review written by Richard with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes 

It's time for a return to the mystical realm of Youshanding in Taipei for Dusk Diver 2! Yang Yumo makes her triumphant return a year after the events of the first Dusk Diver, but things aren't exactly getting better for her. Even with the chaos from a year ago solved, Chaos Beasts still pose a threat, she is now getting painful episodes, and Boss is still woefully underpaying her for her part-time job at the convenience store. Hopefully she can find a solution to at least one of these problems!

If you are unfamiliar with the first Dusk Diver title (PS4 Review / Switch Review), no need to worry! There is a handy mini synopsis available in the break room of the Tumaz Mart, your part-time work place! It is also here where you can save, view gallery items, and heal from the fights you'll be picking. For those returning from the first title, well, you should have a good idea of what's going on. As a brief reminder if you've forgotten, or an intro for those of you who are new, Yang Yumo is a young girl who frequents the neighborhood of Ximending, which is a shopping district located in Taipei, Taiwan. One day, Yumo and her friend Yusha were walking home when they get pulled into another dimension mirroring Ximending and are attacked by Chaos Beasts. Long story short, Yumo gains a power to fight, collects allies that are spiritual beings, and fights back against the one controlling the Chaos Beasts.

Now here we are one year later and you can expect both a lot of the same, and a lot that is new. If you're looking for the brief version, Dusk Diver 2 makes a lot of improvements to the first title, while also making some things a lot worse. I'll go ahead and presume that most of you here are new to the series, so let me lay it out for you. Dusk Diver 2 takes place in a series of chapters, each chapter will have its own main objective and sidequests available, as well as new shop options available as you progress. Your goal, generally speaking, is to traverse the realm of Youshanding (the mirror dimension where the Chaos Beasts come from) usually in order to help somebody. Helping you through this are your old teammates from the first game as well as some new.

Before you get into Youshanding though, you need to prepare. And what's the best way of doing that? Through eating. Dusk Diver 2 has this interesting mechanic where you gain a buff from eating food, as well as exp if it's the first time you've eaten that food. You have a "fullness" meter that extends as you recruit more units, but once you're full, you have to work off that food in battle. Buffs can be pretty much whatever you can imagine, ranging from exp increases to attack increases. The vast majority of these food items can actually be ordered as take out, allowing you to scarf them down at any checkpoints while in Youshanding, which is quite handy. Add to this that you will be given a "Collection Sidequest" where you are tasked with eating food that appears on a card in order to turn it in for rewards, and you'll probably be eating a fair amount.

Also available in the human realm we have Tumaz Mart, the local base for the higher dimensional being from Kunlun who is supposed to be in charge of Youshanding. She also happens to be inhabiting a ceramic bear and is very money grubbing. She's also a genius scientist, and will upgrade your weapons or create gems to slot in to your weapons if you bring back materials from the Chaos Beasts. You don't get new weapons, only upgrades, so feel free to upgrade when you have the parts. You can also unlock skills which are restricted by weapon rank, so it pays off to upgrade when you have a chance. You can also sell those materials to her for cash, which is pretty much the only reasonable way of making money.

Now that you're all geared up and ready to go, you can challenge the Chaos Beasts! Probably the easiest way to do this isn't actually in Youshanding where they reside, and where your story quests take you, but in the human realm. See, Chaos Beasts have the ability to posses people, so as you're running around Ximending, if you see someone with smoke coming out of them, touching them will result in a battle. Either way, let's discuss a bit about combat. In battle you will have Yumo as well as up to three other allies helping you out. Well, I say "helping", but the AI is kinda dumb, and half the time will knock enemies away from your combos, which is a little annoying, but I guess it's the thought that counts? They also have a really nice mechanic attached to having them around.

Basically while you are in battle, you can swap between any allies you've brought along with you. Which is wonderful because each ally has their own unique way of fighting, skills, and special move. I'll use Yumo and Leo as examples. Yumo is a brawler and fights with kicks and punches and can inflict the shock status on enemies, potentially keeping them from attacking. Her skills tend to either be combos or a big move, while her special move allows her to make a copy of something she's familiar with to attack for you. Leo on the other hand uses a sort of gauntlet, deals the burn status, and his special move is a guard. Additionally, he has an ammunition gauge whereas Yumo has an SP gauge. They function similar in nature, but the specifics for how to recharge them are also different.

The common aspects of battle between characters are more in the mechanics than movesets. Dusk Diver at its core is closer to a beat'em up style game. You attack, use skills, and generally hit enemies until they die. All characters also can Just Dodge, Just Counter, Burst, and Burst EX. A Just Dodge should be pretty self explanatory, dodging just before getting hit, and will refill some of your SP, or whatever your character uses, and you won't take damage. You also can evade normally to move out of the way in advance. Similarly, a Just Counter is performed when an enemy gives an indicator, and then using your special move at the right time will counter the hit. It's…actually really annoying to pull off half the time, but is quite worth it if you can manage. Burst and Burst EX are tied together. As you fight you will build up a gauge. Once it fills a set amount, you can enter an overlimit mode. Fill another gauge while still in the overlimit mode and you can use a super move, that doesn't actually knock you out of overlimit.

I'd like to take this moment to both gripe and applaud the combat. Combat feels a lot nicer to deal with than in the first Dusk Diver, hands down. Being able to switch between characters keeps things fresh even after extended play time, and considering each character has a greatly different playstyle and skills, it's really fun. The AI on the other hand, both ally and enemy, is really dumb at times. Most fights have both enemies and allies circling each other like they've just entered a fight club arena before doing anything. Even after they start attacking each other, occasionally your allies will abandon the enemy they're fighting to come knock the enemy you're attacking out of your combo range. Particular mention goes to Bahet, who was the worst offender for me. The others only did it once or twice, but Bahet was almost a constant annoyance for me.

After beating up your baddies you will be rewarded Dragon Vein wafers and exp. The wafers are a currency used exclusively with the Tumaz special stores catering to you and for purchasing skills and skill upgrades. Exp is put into a communal pool and can be allocated to any party member either while in the Human realm or at a checkpoint in a stage. Leveling is…a bit of an interesting experience in Dusk Diver 2. Each character has a max level of 100, after which you can no longer pour exp into them, although stat increasing items are also available. You do not get enough points through pure exp to max out all your stats, so keep that in mind. Each level requires more exp, and honestly, the last ten levels cost about twice the value to get to level 50 with a character. You get an awfully large amount of stat relocation items, which will refund all exp used by a character, so feel free to test stuff out without worrying too hard. Each stat is explained in-game, and the increase is reflected when putting in points, so you know what you're getting.

So I'm going to give some advice and suggest allocating exp across the whole party. There are actually a bunch of reasons for this, but the main take-away is that it keeps your entire party viable, which means you can switch more often and have more fun. Also, equipment has level requirements to it now, so you can't equip that nice level 40 item on your level 1 unit. Considering equipment is your main form of damage reduction, and you'll see your allies take a beating real fast if you don't take care of them. Higher level equipment also tends to have a higher chance for gem slots, meaning your characters only benefit from splitting the exp at a certain point. You can still try putting all your points into one character, probably Yumo, but it won't be as fun in the long run. If you're doing all the sidequests anyway, you'll have plenty of exp to spare.

The graphics in Dusk Diver 2 aren't really much to write home about from a character model perspective. Common NPCs don't have any flavour, often appearing as silhouettes before getting close enough and don't sport any faces, and important character animations are…wonky, let's say. There are moments that feel really well put together, and I did really like the combat animations, but the cutscene quality could use a little work, for the most part. This isn't enough to really affect my opinion on the game, but it is noticeable. The music selection on the other hand? MMMM, whoever was in charge of the soundtrack nailed it. Special mention to the final area and last boss tracks, as those were REALLY good.

So let's talk about some of the miscellaneous aspects. First up, menus are a bit of a pain to navigate. You know how normally when you hit the end of a menu you can hit the same direction to return to the start/top? Yeah, not in Dusk Diver 2 you don't. You miss that one food item you were looking for and are now at the bottom of the menu? May as well leave and re-enter the item menu. It's more of a general nuisance than anything serious, but it's really apparent.

Next is more a tip for you who are as sidequest OCD as I am: the collection quests are supposed to span the entire game. Doing them all as soon as available, if possible, is both a little frustrating and not very fruitful. Also, a lot of the sidequests basically just have you running between points in the human realm, maybe getting in a small fight, and that's it. It also feels like there are way too many, and they happen too close together. I kind of understand why they aren't spaced out more, but there really needed to be some more variety.

Another issue that Dusk Diver suffers from is that it can get a little laggy at times when loading in assets. This is usually when you are in the Human realm in Ximending as there are a lot of NPCs, or during cutscenes where they use the area you're in as a staging ground, so NPCs can spawn in and walk through you. Speaking of cutscenes, I found the storyline of Dusk Diver 2 to be rather…lacking? Cut short? Too long? It felt like there was a lot more that could be done with it, whether it be more info on your teammates through their personal quests, or even from the antagonists, but it also felt drawn out, as weird as that sounds. I also wasn't a super big fan of how they dealt with one of the recurring characters, but that's my own personal opinion.

Special shout-out to the glitch I got during the final cutscene where the main antagonist's hair never loaded in, leaving a character model missing the back of the head. It was pretty funny, although I couldn't get it to happen a second time. Also, as some of you may notice right off the bat from the title screen, there is a new game plus mode that offers some bonuses, which I suggest you check out after you complete the game.

Dusk Diver 2 ultimately suffers from some of the same issues as its predecessor, while simultaneously having issues with the exact opposite problems. The original title had the perfect stage and gameplay length, whereas the sequel tends to overstay its welcome too often. Both have some graphical/texture loading issues, and both games felt like there should have been more depth to certain characters and story aspects. Thankfully all the characters involved are unique and entertaining in their own right, part of the reason I wanted more backstory for them to begin with.


Overall Dusk Diver 2 makes some improvements while setting itself back from the the first title, making them even out. While I think I preferred the first Dusk Diver, that is from a purely personal perspective, and it by no means makes the sequel any worse, just different. There are noticeable combat improvements, character swapping, and a fun skill tree no matter who you play as.

Dusk Diver 2 does suffer from the occasional frame rate issue, and stages can drag on a bit too long sometimes, but are all different themed and entertaining to explore. Dusk Diver 2 is just as good as the first title, and I hope to continue seeing more games from this developer in the future.

Score: 7.5 / 10



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