Title: Dusk Diver
Developer: JFI Games
Publisher: PQube Limited
Genre: Action, Adventure, Role-Playing Games (RPG)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 25/10/2019
Price: £34.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Innocent schoolgirl hero? Check. Interdimensional demons? Check. A god-like being that runs a convenience store, whose consciousness has been transferred into a ceramic bear? Uh…check. Dusk Diver has all of the over the top hallmarks of your favourite Anime infused into an entertaining if occasionally shallow hack and slash experience.
Dusk Diver puts you in control of Yumo, a schoolgirl from the real-life city of Ximending, Taiwan. She is out shopping with her friend when they inadvertently pass through an inter-dimensional fissure into the demon-infested realm of Youshanding. It is here where Yumo discovers she has a mysterious power that allows her to help fight back against the demons who are attempting to enter the realm of men. The plot overall is fairly thin and uninteresting; however, you are quickly introduced to an endearing cast of characters in the form of the God-like guardians of Kunlun, who enlist your help to close these portals between dimensions…and work part-time in the convenience store they use as their base of operations in the human world.
From here on in, you will be dividing your time between wiping out demons and wandering around part of the city, which acts as a hub area where you can interact with your allies, go and eat some food and find collectables in between missions. This area, albeit visually stylish is disappointingly hollow. It teases some freedom, but in the end, is riddled with invisible walls and not much to do. Aside from some optional dialogue with your allies, there is not much more to fill your time than a few humdrum side missions which usually amount to dull fetch quests. As well as one or two watered-down versions of the game’s combat scenarios.
When you enter the main stories combat missions things get significantly more interesting. After a slow first hour or so, which amounts to inane button mashing, you begin to unlock new abilities which give the combat a surprising amount of depth. Between light and heavy attacks, a dodge system that rewards you for perfectly timed movements with a brief slowdown of time and the ability to summon your guardians to perform various attacks.
The combat is entertainingly frantic and doesn’t outstay its welcome during the games 5 or so hour runtime. Boss battles also do a good job of breaking up the action, with a far heavier emphasis on dodging and using a varied amount of summon attacks to break their block meter before being able to dish out serious damage. There are a couple of infuriatingly imprecise platforming sections and one particularly obtuse stealth section that threatens to hijack the pacing of these encounters, but they are kept mercifully brief.
Beat em up games are often fairly repetitive by their very nature, but Dusk Diver does a decent job at keeping things fresh, and there is something addictive and rewarding about watching that Dynasty Warriors-esque hit counter totalling up on screen…
Outside of the combat, there are a few VERY light RPG elements, where you can upgrade some of Yumo’s stats and choose from a selection of outfits for you and your allies. There is also a relationship system that allows you to level up your guardians and unlock some new abilities. As fun and likeable as the characters are, this all feels a little inconsequential and shallow when compared to the Mass Effect and Persona games of the world. There are also options to replay levels to achieve higher scores, which nets you extra items for use in-game.
This includes Dragon Veil Shards that are frustratingly tied to story progression. If you haven’t collected enough throughout the combat missions or by exploring the hub world, you may find the pacing grinding to a halt as you’re wandering aimlessly around looking for more.
Visually, it is safe to say that Dusk Diver is an inconsistent affair. There is a very charming art style at its core that leans very heavily on its Anime influences. The character models are solid, and the city environment is rendered with a decent amount of detail. When there are multiple enemies on screen and a deluge of neon-tinged attacks flying about the place, the game looks genuinely impressive. However, there are clear signs of where the developers have had cut corners.
The battle areas themselves are incredibly bland and devoid of life, many enemies are just different colour variations of each other, and most NPC’s in the hub area appear only as vaguely humanoid blobs of colour until you get up close. At least the game runs well outside of that, with the only issues of note being some minor texture pop in and a couple of text issues on dialogue screens.
Despite its lack of depth, Dusk Diver is a solid action/hack and slash game. The likeable cast of characters and engaging combat do enough to motivate you to see the game through in spite of the lack of a compelling overall story. It’s undoubtedly let down a fair bit by the laborious busy work between missions, and there may be a lack of compelling content to justify its price point, but when firing on all cylinders its an enjoyable, cathartic experience. If you’re a big fan of over the top, anime-style characterisation or just want to spend a few hours kicking seven shades of **** into some demons, this game could be worth your time.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Dusk Diver from the PlayStation Store on the following link, https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP4293-CUSA16554_00-DUSKDIVER1000000
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.