Dusk Diver 2 Review

Dusk Diver 2 Header

Dusk Diver 2 was a promising sequel on paper – a follow-up to the original 2019 city-exploration brawler had so many ways to go bigger and better. Like the Yakuza series’ evolving narratives and gameplay mechanics, I was ready for a Dusk Diver follow-up that embraced the best parts of the experience and made them even more magical. Instead, Dusk Diver 2 feels like a fumbled attempt at pivoting in an entirely different direction. While some exciting elements from the original game carry over, the combat, which makes up a vast majority of the game, suffers a few too many missteps to be overlooked.

Like the original game, Dusk Diver 2 takes place in the modern and super-chic shopping district Ximending. It’s a real-life Taiwanese neighbourhood, and the game goes into jaw-dropping detail to recreate it virtually. You’ve got a solid chunk of city blocks to run around in and explore, lined with restaurants and shopping stops that are lifted straight from the real world. This was one of the highlights of the original game, and I’m happy the experience was preserved for the sequel. There isn’t as much interactivity here as there might be in the city streets of a Yakuza game, but it’s still a huge delight to visit a Cold Stone Creamery or pop into a Korean street-food spot in-between battles.

When you aren’t exploring Ximending, you’ll be diving into dungeons in an alternate dimension full of menacing creatures that protagonist Yumo and her boss Leo will need to beat down and bust up. They’re joined by Behet and Le Viada, and the quartet make up your playable heroes for the duration of the game. Each one plays a bit differently than the last – Leo is super slow but super strong, while Le Viada is a tricky ranged fighter and Behet is an AoE beast with huge combo potential.

Ideally, you’d be able to invent a variety of different combos by swapping between all these characters in real-time to string their attacks together. Unfortunately, character swaps in Dusk Diver 2 have a massive cool-down on them, locking you into a single character for far too long to make any interesting sorts of combination plays happen.

Dusk Diver 2 Review City Fight

In a lot of ways, not the least being the short-sighted character swapping cooldowns, Dusk Diver 2 feels like it knows what it wants to be, but doesn’t quite know how to get there. The original game had hordes of enemies with paper-thin health bars, not unlike a Warriors game or a Senran Kagura brawler. The sequel chops the quantity of enemies but buffs them all significantly, meaning you have fewer enemies on screen with lots more health. This is a bad change!

For one thing, the enemy variety is pretty low in this game, yet battles occur constantly. It’s made so much easier to recognise the enemy repetition when they’ve got so much health for you to shred through. The bigger problem is that the game doesn’t provide enough variety or evolution to warrant the amount of fighting you do. There are only a handful of unlockable moves, meaning you’ll be busting out virtually the same combos for the entire runtime, and that gets really old, really quick.

If you were invested in the narrative of the first game, it might still be worth trudging through the messy gameplay to experience this follow-up. The events of Dusk Diver 2 take place after the conclusion of the original game, and elevate things in a lot of ways with new mysteries and a really, really cool new antagonist. Even better is that, while the gameplay might have taken a hit, the presentation and visuals of Dusk Diver 2 got a noticeable upgrade. The game runs smooth as silk on PlayStation 5, and every character, dialogue portrait, and menu has even more style and polish than they did in the original game. While most of the music is lifted from the original game, it still goes just as hard as it did last time – Dusk Diver has one of the best soundtracks in gaming, and that fact remains true with the sequel.

Dusk Diver 2 Review Combat

Despite improved visuals and a consistently banging soundtrack, Dusk Diver 2 still ends up being a mixed bag. It does little to welcome any newcomers to the story, while returning fans will end up burnt by the changes to combat. It’s a bummer to see the game hit such lows after the original was such a tight and exciting experience. There’s some things to love in Dusk Diver 2, but when a game mostly made up of combat encounters has numbingly repetitive combat, it’s hard to recommend it.

Dusk Diver 2 flies too close to the sun - and it isn't even aiming for the sun in it's own solar system. While the original game was a tight and exciting brawler, this sequel tries to pivot into a more methodical character-action style without the tools that make those games so rewarding. The result is a game with repetitive, sluggish combat dominating the entire experience. Fans might find crumbs of narrative intrigue to explore here, but newcomers have little reason to dive in.
  • Improved visuals
  • A beautiful, detailed city to explore
  • Repetitive, limited combat
  • Damage-sponge enemies
  • No way to string your multiple characters attacks together
Written by
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.