Dusk Diver Review – Diving into Fun

Platforms: PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch
Developer: Wanin Games, JFI Gams, Jera
Publisher: PQube
Release: 23th October 2019 (PC)
Price: 39.99

Continuing their streak of releasing incredibly promising titles, PQube brought us an anime style RPG… from Taiwan, set in Taiwan? Yes, this doesn’t only sound like an unusual mix but actually makes sense considering Taiwan offers many similar places to the ones often seen in Japanese titles while giving the team the opportunity to infuse it with its own charme.

Yumo is your ordinary high school girl, who just wanted to have some fun with her friend in the Taiwanese Akihabara Ximending, when suddenly, she’s transported into another realm, Youshanding. There she encounters not only phantoms but also so-called guardians and she quickly learns she possesses special powers, enabling her to fight alongside them and free the shadow realm of the evil. So her fight begins of gathering more and more guardians, strengthening her bonds and punching through hundreds of phantoms.

Story-wise it definitely is more on the simple side, relying on its many different guardians and Yumo’s relationships with them and her friends to carry its 10-15 hours long story. Luckily, I like pretty much all of them! Not because theyre super deep characters or more interesting than in other games, but because they’re incredibly entertaining. Every guardian in particular is pretty much just a walking anime cliché and often there isn’t a whole lot of underlying character going on beneath it, instead Dusk Diver focuses more on packaging these stereotypes in a really appealing way. They’re quirky and Yumo often questions their clichéness herself, creating some really nice moments, that are just entertaining.

What’s less entertaining is the core gameplay loop though. Dusk Diver consists of clearing several stages in the shadow realm by musou-like defeating all the enemies in them. The thing is though, before you can do that, every stage requires a certain amount of shards… which are often collected by running through the quite empty and boring world, searching for them and often failing. It’s just a drag that only gets worse the longer the game goes on as the quantity goes up more and more while their spots get harder to find everytime. It’s neither well guided, designed nor fun in any way and especially later on I often found those spots to be the least fun of all of them.

Once this hurdle is overcome though, the combat is pretty damn fun. It plays surprisingly fluid and responds quite well to switching combos or dodging mid combo, unlike many other tinier productions in this genre. Every guardian can assist you in battle, has its own array of special attacks that consume SP meter and the best part: Most of their attacks can chain into your combos and even have different effects depending on them. Combined with the very Dynasty Warriors like combo system of having one main light punch streak you can branch into others through heavy attacks, it’s a surprisingly easy but flashy system. You can even gain more SP and some flashy slowdowns by dodging perfectly, which is a neat option to perfect your playstyle.

Unfortunately, there’s rarely any need to put a lot of thought into the combat, as both the levels and enemy variety is lackluster to say the least. Spawning the same enemies without many variations or unique quirks, especially early on, Dusk Diver doesn’t impress in any regard. Combined with the actually retarded AI it may often feel like a Dynasty Warriors game in those regards but lacks the base capturing or silliness nor offers many characters to make up for it. At the same time it lays a far greater focus on an action game style by locking you into an area until you defeated all enemies, making it feel like a confused mix of many, many approaches.

Luckily, at least the visuals are pretty much always appealing. Featuring a truly wonderfully colourful artstyle with some truly great character designs. Infusing even the mere act of rendering bystanders with a lower model depending on their distance, infusing every move with surprisingly well-fitting anime particle effects and rocking this simply enchanting visual presentation (though to be fair, I can’t exactly pinpoint why I like it so much from the first time I laid eyes on the trailer).

Conclusion

Dusk Diver is a pretty alright action/musou game. It really is. There are some bigger and smaller annoying aspects but all in all, the unique setting and visuals can make up for it by a whole lot so ya, go for it if you felt a bit enchanted by it like I was.

[A Review Code was provided by PQube]