Developed by Aquaplus & Sting, Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & The Monster Seal is a dungeon crawler role-playing game (DRPG for short) that is similar to many of its other brethren such as Demon Gaze and Operation Abyss. Knowing the Vita to be a haven for many unscrupulous titles that many Western gamers (unless of a certain audience) wouldn’t touch and the demo version reinforcing that point, I did honestly feel that a decent game could be found behind the fluff. Lo and behold, after playing the complete version, I am glad to say that the sentiment definitely holds true in some respects and should come of a surprise to many that dare take it on.
Title: Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & The Monster Seal
Genre: Dungeon Crawler (DRPG)
Developer: Aquaplus, Sting (Published by Atlus for North America)
System: PlayStation Vita, PSTV
Length: 45-50hrs (main scenario)
Taking a page from almost every anime written, the story follows the journey of a young man named Fried, a graduate of the Royal Military Academy working as a Libra for the Library. After a cacophony of events like meeting his two childhood pals Melvy and Alisia, a monster outbreak occurs that threatens the peace of the kingdom and up to you and your bevy of beautiful allies you recruit along the way (yes, they are all girls) to find the cause and put a stop to it. Not working with the most ingenious generated synopsis coming from usually skilled writers, it is at least appropriate and fine for a DRPG with most the story dispersed through small scenes and other optional vignettes. Yes, some of the vignettes can range from pretty harmless and humorous to just plain risqué, but in the end, does work out to be pretty balanced and give you chance to see the more of the personalities and attitudes that make up your team. By far, my favorite would have to be the maid Conette who doesn’t exactly live up to her job description.
Much like any DRPG the same rules apply: you will be exploring various dungeons in first-person point view with the goal of exploring it nearly in its entirety only using a blank map and that will automatically fill out as you go and your party of 5. Part of the fun of Dungeon Travelers 2 (or any DRPG) is mixing matching characters, since depending your characters and class, you can get some useful or disadvantageous results. Of course, the classes are also pretty unique. Besides the standard Mage and Fighter, you also have oddities like: Maid, Doll Master, and Etoile just to name a few. As ridiculous as a few might sound, choosing your party composition from that pool is important as even normal encounters can prove to be fairly difficult. Despite the monsters you fight look even more absurd and either some sort of fruit or pseudo anime monster girl pictured in a racy way (again, the audience for it), it isn’t too unheard if lose a few battles, especially earlier on. Fruit kicking your butt is an amusing thought, isn’t it? This is not to say that Dungeon Travelers 2 is unfair game (far from it), yet is very difficult and for those expecting an easy game that they can blow through in a couple of hours on auto-pilot, you’re in for rude awakening. That being said, I do appreciate that the game is keeping true to the DRPG format, despite it not improving upon it much. Whether that be unseen traps that activate when you least expect it or chance random events like a Panada that wants to sell you ramen (which is related to the battle mechanic), I find most of the stuff placed in the game has its use and adds some personality to it.
When you need to regroup or tire of exploring dungeons, the Royal Library will act as your base of operations where various options are available to you. Buy/Sell/Identify weapons and items, reorganize your party, store unused or unwanted equipment, and picking up extra quest for rewards will probably be most frequented, but another essential option is the seal control room where you will be able to make spellbooks. Since Fried can’t directly participate in battle, he can help the party by making them spellbooks from defeated foes that come with different effects. Some are useless like lowering your speed or raising the encounter rate (which could be useful), but others are quite helpful and since all party members can equip them, it is another way to improve their abilities or cover weakness besides buying equipment or spending skill points to upgrade skills. If you find self getting useless books or unnecessary duplicates, they can be sold off at the shop and help add a little extra income for your adventures.
Being a game that original started off on PSP, Dungeon Travelers 2 looks really great on the Vita, the technical capabilities allowing for really bright and lush colors. Whether it be character models or menus, everything looks aesthetically pleasing and the quality of artwork speaks for itself. Of course, that sentiment goes double for the various fanservice shots, but most are as tame as the release can get it. The soundtrack composition is also very great, containing different tracks for each area and mainl uses synthesizers in an upbeat and peppy manner. For those that like English voice-overs, it sadly is a Japanese only deal, yet with it fully voiced and quality of work is fine, many people probably won’t mind.
All-in-all, I have to say for a game I didn’t think to highly of at first, Dungeon Travelers 2 does measure up to be competent and compelling one. While it isn’t free of issues like its shameless use of fanservice and many of the other later dungeons proving to use some nasty gimmicks to impede the player progress, the game sets out to create a DRPG and does just that while encompassing all the best and worst parts it has to offer. Taking around 45-50 hrs to complete and a sizable amount of post game content to tackle, this definitely is a title that will satisfy your dungeon crawler cravings as long as you don’t mind a challenge and not dismayed by the content. It probably won’t be a game to give to beginners of the genre (although, they are free to try it), but for the anime centric and players that like werid DRPG’s, the game provides a lot to love and very little to hate.
Pros: Wide variety of character classes and skills, nice balance of difficulty, able to save progress anywhere, spellbook system is very useful, impressive visuals, post game content is extremely challenging.
Cons: Fanservice gets touted too much, later dungeons can be painful to navigate.