Dusk Diver 2 promises slick art and a simple, satisfying action adventure

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Dusk Diver 2 has been slowly rolling out across regions and storefronts for most of this year. What initially started as a Japanese eShop release with English language support then quietly made its way to PC back in February, but now it’s jumping right into the spotlight around the world. With the help of publisher Idea Factory, Dusk Diver 2 is finally getting a wider release in America and Europe on PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. While the niche action-game publisher typically focuses on Japanese-developed titles, Dusk Diver 2 is developed by Taiwanese studio WANIN Games, and the way Taiwanese culture mixes and blends into the game creates a refreshingly unique beat-em-up experience.

Much like how Yakuza games typically take place in Kamurocho, a fictionalised version of Kabukicho in Tokyo, Dusk Diver 2 is set in the bustling shopping district of Ximending – a real-life Taiwanese neighborhood. When I first arrived in the polished shopping district, I could tell immediately how much focus was put into recreating a neighborhood I had never even seen before. Real-life restaurants like Cold Stone Creamery and lesser known Taiwanese shops and food-spots stack against each other, while the wide-open walk-able streets connecting each block of shops create this instantly welcoming feeling.

In my time with the game so far, it’s hard to tell if Ximending has the same sense of expansive side-activities or emergent moments of in-game life that the highly developed hubs of the Yakuza series have, but I still can’t help but be fascinated as I spent some time sightseeing before finally making my way to the main quest objective.

Now, Dusk Diver 2 is not really a standalone sequel with a narrative that invites newcomers. It takes place after the events of the first game, and those events seem to have been significant – if you aren’t familiar with them, or even with the general setting and background of the game world, Dusk Diver 2 does very little to acclimate you. You may not understand what college-student protagonist Yumo does, or why she has Dragon Vein powers, or what a Dragon Vein even is, and lacking that understanding of the story and the characters certainly hinders the enjoyment of the first couple hours of the games storytelling. Thankfully, this is one of those games where, if you want to turn your brain off, skip some cutscenes and get straight to the action, you’re almost all the better for it.

Dusk Diver 2 Combat

When mysterious Phantoms invade Ximending, you’ll have to travel into a mirror dimension to battle them – and it’s here that Dusk Diver 2 plays its best hand. Combat in the game is slick and fluid, and easily the most polished element of the entire package. Character animations are snappy, and even with your hour-1 basic toolkit of regular attacks and special attacks, you’ve got options for combo variety that rival most character-action games. Yumo has light and heavy attacks to dish out, along with a handful of special attacks, a timed burst mode for attack buffs, and an ultimate attack you can dish out by dealing enough damage during your burst mode. You can even tag in party members, not just for assist attacks, but to play as them in combat as well.

Making my way through the entire first dungeon of the game, I only see minor cracks starting to form in the loop of character action goodness. I fought the same two types of enemies my entire time there, and while enemy variety isn’t always an issue, the frequency of combat encounters quickly made that lack of variety become a sticking sore thumb. In the grand scheme of things, though, it’ll be important to see how Dusk Diver 2 elevates things from here. If I can unlock a swathe of new combat skills or fight increasingly varied enemy and boss types, this will be a great time. But if those two enemies I fought in dungeon one are a consistent threat, or the hub world exploration and obtuse storytelling don’t tie into combat and dungeons better, Dusk Diver 2 might end up with some major sticking points.

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I'm a writer, voice actor, and 3D artist living la vida loca in New York City. I'm into a pretty wide variety of games, and shows, and films, and music, and comics and anime. Anime and video games are my biggest vice, though, so feel free to talk to me about those. Bury me with my money.