It’s hard finding a balance in your everyday life–especially when your everyday life consists of working as a convenience store clerk who travels to another world to use the powers of gods to defeat monsters in order to protect your homeworld. Well this is a very basic description of Dusk Diver. Dusk Diver is an anime-styled beat em up/hack n’ slash game with RPG elements. It’s easy to tell this game has a lot of potential but how good is it really?
Dusk Diver’s story starts off fairly interesting. The protagonist, Yumo, and her friend, Yusha, are walking through the streets of Ximending–a real world city in Taipei, and accidentally cross over into a strange and dangerous world called Youshanding. There, Yumo meets a man named Leo who she mistakes as a gangster. In reality, Leo is actually a Kunlunian–a local guardian God.
Yumo accidentally absorbs Leo’s powers and is now faced with the tasks of protecting both worlds from the Chaos beasts. The game is voice acted but only in the original Japanese. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though as the Japanese cast is fantastic. The acting may actually be the highlight of the game’s sound design as the music is okay but pretty forgettable.
Gameplay consists of your classic beat em up/hack n slash style. You beat up waves of chaos beats with your various melee strikes/combos, and Kunlunian specials. You can unlock new moves by spending time with the Kunlunians in the real world or by purchasing skill upgrades in the main menu. Gameplay is pretty mindless and fun, exactly what you expect from this style game–but it does get repetitive after a while and the different Kunlunians do not offer much variety from one another. Enemies are switched up often so Dusk Diver tries to keep gameplay pretty fresh.
Dusk Diver’s setting offers a mix between a real world city like Ximending, and a fictional world like Youshanding. Normally, this mix would make for a fun and interesting contrast, however, Youshanding’s design tends to be pretty minimal and uninteresting. Every time you visit it throughout the game feels very similar to the last. Occasionally, the theme of where you are in the world will change to something slightly more interesting like a parking garage or station, but for the most part, it’s all just an endless maze of buildings–most of which are blocked off and inaccessible. While Youshanding is pretty repetitive and consists mostly of darker colors for the setting, Ximending is brightly colored, full of faceless people and market stands. Ximending is still pretty lackluster and repetitive but it at least offers some side quests and shops to spend time at.
Remember how I mentioned the faceless people? Well, one of my main gripes with Dusk Diver is the lack of effort put into the details. This of course applies to the graphics which are overall good but very minimalistic in certain areas. Not only can the worlds be bland, but all NPCs in Ximending show up as a solid color until you get close enough to them where they will then colorize a full head of hair and outfits but still no faces. This very well could be an artistic decision but it still rubs me the wrong way, it just seems like they could have put more effort into the graphics overall. This very well could be a consequence of a smaller budget and graphics really aren’t what makes or breaks a game to me, so while I had my complaints–it wasn’t a huge concern.
One thing that really did stand out though was the poor translation. I saw countless translation errors throughout the game with typos like “Besdies”, “hte”, and “ove” instead of the word “of”. This doesn’t hinder gameplay in anyway but it is noticeable and sometimes laughable.
One other complaint I have with Dusk Diver is that it has a lot of collectibles. Normally, I am okay with collectibles. I actually love finding collectibles in a lot of games like Banjo Kazooie and Spyro the Dragon but these games are made for collecting. In most other games, I’ll probably get a few collectibles that I see around but I won’t stress it–Dusk Diver however, makes you find collectibles. Every new mission is locked behind a gate that can only be unlocked with a certain number of Dragon Vein Stones which can be found in each mission or around Ximending.
The requirement isn’t too high but I did find myself being a little short almost every time and thus needing to take an extra look to make up the difference. Stunting progress for the sake of forcing what should be an optional task, or just to make the game feel longer, is a pretty annoying mechanic.
Dusk Diver is a pretty short game but offers a fun experience while it lasts. I just can’t help but feel that there is a lot of potential here that just isn’t being reached. If the developers come back with a bigger budget and are able to expand the game’s depth, improve graphics, increase the size of the game world, and really flesh out the story, characters, and gameplay, then I think it could be a fantastic series. However, for now it falls short of that high potential. I definitely recommend playing it for any hack n’ slash fans but I don’t think there’s necessarily enough content for most players.
- Interesting story, character and enemy design
- Well written characters and great voice acting
- Great hack n slash gameplay
- RPG components are nicely incorporated
- Poor translation
- Weird design choices
- Two worlds are very minimalistic and repetitive
- Collectibles stunt game progression