riostarwind's Dark Cloud 2 (PlayStation 4) review

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Dark Cloud 2 has a solid foundation that starts to crumble the more I played it.

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Time to pull another RPG out of the bookshelf to finally play through it. I have a lot of positive memories of Dark Cloud 2 yet I never managed to finish it. The mixture of different gameplay styles really gives it a positive first impression. Yet now that I’m seeing this game in a new light I can see why it is well regarded while also seeing some very notable flaws.

The action is fast paced and the cel shaded art style lets it still look good to this day.
The action is fast paced and the cel shaded art style lets it still look good to this day.

After a quick intro we get introduced to one of our protagonists named Maximian who really wants to go to the circus. Yet once he gets in he learns a bit more than he expected from the ringmaster who seems to be looking for a red gem. Guess who has it. After a quick getaway into the sewers Max decides to go out to see what the world looks like beyond the walls of the town he lives in. Afterwards he meets Monica and the scope of what they have to do through time is immense.

Any sort of time traveling narrative is always interesting to me but it feels like the game relies on battling monsters down very generic looking dungeons a bit to much. Nothing wrong with the combat since it is the standard action RPG flair with some extra elements. Adding in new way to battle enemies is neat even if they aren’t all that useful like turning into monsters. It just takes too much time to grind them up to something great while the cool mech Max can use is just so much more powerful. Blowing through enemies in the mech may be a bit to powerful since I tend to use it a lot.

Every JRPG has to have fishing right?
Every JRPG has to have fishing right?

The amount of extra stuff you can do other than dungeon crawling is crazy. The main unique section is the base building mode after you collect enough georama parts. Building up different towns to fix the future is a neat premise. It mainly just means you do a thing and then you get a thing from the future than helps the present. I do wish the game would give me a bit more of a reason to build more than what I needed to compete the future. Elsewhere the game has multiple mini games that can pass a bit of time like fishing,time golf and side quests. Time golf is the worst one of the bunch since you play it in the dungeons after beating up all the monsters. They aren’t made to play golf at all since each map has way to many random pits for the ball to fall into. Fishing is fine and finding more people for your crew on the train is useful since they can sell you things.

I didn't want to spoil it with a screenshot but the final base building section has a neat gimmick.
I didn't want to spoil it with a screenshot but the final base building section has a neat gimmick.

The more I played the more repetitive everything became. Fighting the same enemies but now they are a different color doesn’t add much since I already knew how to beat them before. By the time chapter 6 rolled around I was already ready for the game to end yet it keeps going for one more chapter. That just draws out the game a bit much which is only extra highlighted by a very poorly designed final boss. None of the bosses were ever a challenge till the final boss rush that you have to fight without saving. Most are pointless fodder like the rest of the game but the two main bosses are just a battle of dps. Beating a boss by wailing on him while healing the damage is a really boring point to end on.

While the ending doesn’t land well getting to that point was enjoyable most of the time. The mix of going through the dungeons and fixing up a town in between them is a fun take on a normal action RPG. Like I mentioned I just wish it ended a bit sooner and all the unique boss encounters that are early just get replaced by super generic fights later. Most of the things I enjoyed the most were near the start which must be why I ended up not finishing it multiple times. Still a solid little adventure that is worth playing if you don’t mind that the conclusion is rather rough.

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