Dusk Diver from developers JFI Games Inc., Justdan International Co. Ltd. and publisher PQube released on Nintendo Switch, PC and PS4 fairly recently and delivers quite a unique take on the action-adventure beat ‘em up JRPG formula. The game is set in Taiwan and not in Japan like anime fans are used to.
In Dusk Diver players will take on the role of Yang Yumo, a teenage girl that gets dragged into a battle between worlds. Yumo and her friend Yusha end up getting sucked into an alternate dimension version of Ximending district during a lunch meetup. Things escalate and Yumo eventually befriends a guardian spirit known as Leo. In the alternate dimension though, Leo’s powers get transferred to Yumo and she gains the ability to fight off monsters.
Ximending district has tears in its space fabric which open up portals to Youshanding, a mirror world inhabited by monsters. Yumo eventually discovers that Leo and another guardian spirit that inhabits a cat charm defend Ximending and the game’s plot thickens. Players will learn more about the district and Youshanding as they fight through the alternate dimension and open up conversations with the guardian spirits.
Gameplay in Dusk Diver is fairly standard with both light and heavy attacks available. Players will also be able to summon a guardian spirit to perform a special attack and later on in the game, you’ll be able to awaken a more powerful form for Yumo. Combining both light, heavy and guardian attacks are key to victory and there’s a lot of button bashing gameplay involved throughout. Enemies get progressively stronger and different mechanics and strategies have to be applied to defeat them. For example some have a shielding that only be penetrated by using guardian attacks while others can be dispatched quite easily using standard attacks.
The game’s difficulty is well adjusted with the normal mode not providing too much of a hassle to get through. The hard mode however will provide quite a challenge and you’ll have to be more mindful of your combo usage and positioning in battles. The gameplay shines in the fact that the game is broken up into two very different segments. One is the story-driven Ximending segment and the other is the Youshanding combat segments. In Ximending players will run around and talk to vendors and other characters while building relationships with them to unlock more story cutscenes. In Youshanding, the combat will keep you entertained.
It’s refreshing to see locations that aren’t the standard fare we’ve come to expect from JRPGs. Seeing Ximending district recreated in-game is great. It would have been great if the developers explained more of the setting’s rich cultural history or heritage in the game but alas they didn’t. Environments in Dusk Diver are vibrant and even though NPCs fade-out, unless you’re close to them, and turn into shadows, this doesn’t influence the game negatively. Some of Youshanding could have gotten a bit more detail but overall, the visual style and aesthetic of Dusk Diver is great with the character designs being excellent. The guardians and Yumo herself all look great both in the cutscenes and in the battles themselves. There are also lots of flashy effects in combat, especially when using special abilities, and players will be in for a visual treat.
The voice acting in Dusk Diver is excellent too with many seasoned veteran Japanese voice actors lending their vocal cords to the game’s cast. Anime fans will be quite pleased with this. English dub fans, however, might be slightly disappointed since there aren’t any English voices in the game. The soundtrack used in the game is good and never got annoying either. There are some minor grievances to be had with the localization of text though. There are many cases of improper translation or missing letters or words in sentences. It’s forgivable but it does detract from the game somewhat when you notice it.
Overall, Dusk Diver is reminiscent of button bashing “Musou” games such as Warriors Orochi. There are visual novel-esque story segments interspersed with lots of combat and flashy moves. If you’re a fan of JRPG style games with hack and slash or beat ‘em up combat, you’ll probably enjoy Dusk Diver.
Dusk Diver is available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PC
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