Death end re;Quest 2 was one of the first games I reviewed for RPGFan back in 2020. When I initially gave this horror RPG a look, I was thoroughly impressed with the writing, art, and mechanics. With the recent release of the Nintendo Switch port, I decided to revisit the creepy town of Le Choara and step into the shoes of troubled heroine Mai Toyama once more. Along the way, I loaded up my PS4 saves for the sake of comparison. Surprisingly, I found the disparity between the two versions to be quite notable when it comes to performance.
Death end re;Quest 2 is, unsurprisingly, a follow-up to 2019’s horror/adventure RPG Death end re;Quest. It tells the tale of a young girl who has lived a sad, hard life. The game pulls no punches as it opens with protagonist Mai Toyama murdering her abusive and raging alcoholic father. After a court deems her actions to be in self-defense, she’s given some brief counseling to help her cope with the traumatic event and then sent on her way. As soon as she’s free of the system, she sets out to find her missing little sister at Wordsworth, an all-girls academy. Despite its prestigious name, Wordsworth is little more than an orphanage and boarding school for problematic children. To make matters worse, it’s nestled in a creepy former mining town known as Le Choara. The town is full of disturbing secrets, and every night at midnight, all hell seems to break loose.
Narratively, the game is quick to throw players into the deep end. Within an hour, horrible events are already kicking off at Wordsworth. Death end re;Quest 2 is a particularly gruesome game. It’s chock full of death and gore, though the majority of the latter is presented in a (thankfully) textual manner. The story is an exciting affair full of twists and turns, though it is incredibly bloody. Compile Heart have certainly stayed true to their initial claim that the game would have “200% more occult horror” than the original. Those lacking a strong stomach may want to prepare themselves for some rather disturbing scenes.
Death end re;Quest 2‘s story is largely standalone for the first half of the game, though events and characters from the original do start to show up fairly quickly. While there’s no required knowledge of the first game, it certainly helps with understanding the meta-plot of the series. Fans of the first game will also be pleased to see some familiar faces, though the majority of returning characters are little more than avatars to be used in combat.
Visually, the Switch version of Death end re;Quest 2 uses much simpler geometry and runs at a far lower resolution than the PS4 version. Despite all these cuts and changes to ensure better performance, the game still runs incredibly poorly. The frame rate drops to 15 fps or lower when roaming the town of Le Choara. Add in a few enemies chasing you and it tanks even further. The choppy performance, low-quality character models, and low resolution make the 3D portion of the game rather unpleasant to look at compared to its PS4 counterpart. This is quite a shame given how great the 2D assets are. It can be a little jarring going from the vivid visual novel presentation with vibrant and beautiful art to the muddy and low-res 3D elements.
For battles, Death end re;Quest 2 uses a symbol encounter system. Players can attack enemies on the field to start the battle with an advantage, though this is a bit more difficult in the Switch version due to the erratic frame rate. While battles are turn-based, they’re a bit more tactical, as players are able to roam the battlefield and position themselves prior to attacking. Characters can chain up to three attacks in a row per turn, and the game has a large list of skills to choose from, with more options becoming available as you progress. The game also utilizes a “Flash” system in which players experiment with skill combinations and “spark” new abilities similar to the SaGa series. Add in the rock-paper-scissors system of elemental strengths and weaknesses, and there is a lot of strategy and flexibility for players to utilize when they are faced with a gruesome foe.
Players can also send enemies flying across the battlefield to bounce off walls, into corrupted bugs (traps with buffs, essentially), and towards other enemies and allies. Upon contact with an ally, the enemy can get knocked away again with a violent blow. While combat in the Switch version is largely the same as the PS4 version, performance issues again mar the experience. When roaming around the battlefield, characters feel much heavier and slower due to the chugging frame rate. In the PS4 version, characters have weight to them, but movement is generally fluid and smooth. On Switch, it simply feels worse. There also seems to be a small amount of input lag when it comes to the combat menu, which weighs down the entire experience.
Overall, this version of Death end re;Quest 2 feels much slower and more unwieldy both in and out of combat. When running through the alleyways of Le Choara and dodging monsters, the frame rate drops to an uncomfortable low. Additionally, terrifying pursuers known as Dark Shadows occasionally pop up and chase after the party. Your only option is to run, as you face certain death should they catch you. When you’re sprinting full speed down alleyways with one of these creatures on your tail, the frame rate once again makes the experience frustratingly worse.
Thankfully, Death end re;Quest 2‘s audio is nearly identical to other versions. The eerie, atmospheric music creates an unsettling backdrop while you roam the foggy, monster-riddled streets. A haunting piano adds a chilling touch to the experience, and at times it almost feels like the piano itself is a ghostly apparition drifting through the air. When you’re not basking in the creepy ambience, the soundtrack spikes in tempo and excitement as soon as a battle starts. Even the boss themes have a catchy, melodic flow to them that feels heavy and impactful. Finally, while I mentioned this in my PS4 review, I’d like to address just how fantastic the English voice cast is once more. Their performances and the lengths they go to stay true to the horror vibe are truly impressive and greatly appreciated.
While there are a lot of great things about Death end re;Quest 2, the poor performance of the Switch version continually detracts from the experience. In a game rife with blood and gore, it’s unfortunate that the frame rate is the most nauseating part. While I’d love to recommend Death end re;Quest 2 to fans of the original (and horror RPG fans in general), it’s difficult to recommend the Switch version unless it is your only option. If you had no qualms with the original Death end re;Quest‘s Switch performance, you’ll likely have no issues with this sequel. However, it is without a doubt the worst way to experience a great horror RPG.