Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal - Review  

Not Your Parents' Library
by Robert Sinclair

40-60 Hours
+ Can sometimes be funny
+ Plenty of classes
- Sexually suggestive content and art
- Poorly paced
- Unbalanced combat
- Little explanation, bad tutorials
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   When I was starting into Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal, the expectation was that the game would be a first-person dungeon crawler seasoned with what is called “fan service” by aficionados. I can't say that isn't what I got. The more I played the game, the more I found there was under the surface. However, it never pulls far away from that initial impression and, for better or worse, fan service is what the player is served.

   Dungeon Travelers 2 takes place in the Kingdom of Romulea and centres on the Royal Library in the capital. The main character, Fried, is what is known as a Libra and has the power to seal monsters into a book. After a brief introduction, Fried leaves behind his task of organizing the library and is sent off to meet with a couple of ladies to create a monster extermination team. After a mysterious earthquake that causes part of the cave he's in to collapse, Fried stumbles onto his fellow team members, and after a revealing picture of the ladies and some innuendo, the team is formed.

   The story is a fairly standard "demon god did bad stuff and was sealed away" drama. The team is tasked with missions to clear out monsters and make the kingdom safer for travelers and merchants while mysterious things happen around them. The story is more or less an excuse to go into each new dungeon for most of the game, with all the interesting bits making up the last few segments. The poor pacing of the story really makes it feel like it drags on too long.

   Along with unfortunate pacing in the story, there is a serious lack of explanations in Dungeon Travelers 2. Tutorials always seem to come too late to be any use as the player would likely have figured it out just through naturally playing the game. Even in the final dungeon there were tutorials. If someone tries to play without experimenting and toying with different things, such as item upgrading or changing classes, before the tutorial for it they would likely have a hard time advancing.

Everything is possible with the power of books! Everything is possible with the power of books!

   Coupled with the pathetic timing of the tutorials, the actual scenes in the tutorials are cringe worthy. During a tutorial, a bear and a penguin appear to explain what gameplay element the player is going to learn, but the humour is pitiful and wince-inducing, making it hard to take the tutorials seriously. Tutorials are definitely the bane of what makes Dungeon Travelers 2 a painful experience. If someone is brand new to the dungeon crawling genre, chances are they will get frustrated and quit in the first dungeon due to constant game overs and general confusion, even before the first tutorial arrives. Even veterans of these types of RPGs will likely get game overs in the beginning.

   Battles are turn-based, with each character acting based on their own speed characteristic. Some abilities, mostly magic, involve a casting time which prevents them from acting for a set amount of time. Turn order is also affected by hidden cooldown times that each action has, with some abilities being able to forcefully delay enemy actions. Issues arise when enemies begin to use attacks that do high damage to all team members without having a cast time. The final boss was a test of persistence more than skill because players will have to endure game overs due to a certain, cheap move of the boss that sometimes happens twice in a row. Battles can be very frustrating, and game overs feel like a constant norm.

   Dungeons themselves are decently designed, at least. They look rather bland, but not particularly bad. There are two big issues with the dungeons as the game progresses: first, the maps get extremely complicated and obtuse. You eventually have to check every square in the dungeon to find your way. It takes a lot of time and can be incredibly annoying and is usually very time consuming. The second issue is that enemy monsters don't scale well. Monsters go from being easily dealt with straight to killing the entire party within the same dungeon. The first run-ins with several monster types can be easy game overs for even well prepared and geared parties. The only way to deal with this issue is to make liberal use of the ability to save anywhere.

I don't think that's how gravity works... I don't think that's how gravity works...

   To strengthen characters for the journey, monsters give experience for levels and drop equipment that can be upgraded. Gaining a level gives a party member a certain amount of skill points, which can be used to learn or upgrade special abilities, magic, or other bonuses. There are also several classes that can be accessed as they level, which open up new abilities. There is also a way to redistribute the skill points if players want to reset their character's classes, which can be handy if one wishes to rebuild their character.

   There are several types of equipment and abilities attached to them. Every class has its own set of equipment it can equip and all classes have access to monster book accessories. The monster books are created by defeating nine of a single enemy and then going to a certain room at the library. These books provide a wide variation of skills and buffs and are the basis of upgrading equipment. Upgrading requires a book and an item that hasn't reached its level cap. Players then must spend money to craft a new item. By cancelling or retrying the upgrade over and over, players can choose what abilities can be passed over to the character's equipment, though there are hidden limitations that are never fully explained. Some abilities will not go onto some items and there is no reason given.

   The music in Dungeon Travelers 2 is actually pretty good. There's nothing offensive to the ears and some of the tunes can even motivate players into one more battle. Most of the Japanese voice acting is good, though some voices tend to be more miss-than-hit in terms of performance quality.

   The most controversial part of this game is the art style, and while it is quite good, it could be offensive to some players. Basically, every party member other than Fried is a female. With every character outside of Fried being female, the game is very overt in its design to appeal to certain demographics and isn't shy about its fan service. From the first five minutes, players should have a good idea of what they may be getting themselves into and the cheesecake doesn't stop there. That being said, while the designs are quite nice, fan service and all, one fault to find is the amount of palette-swapped enemy designs, which outside of bear, penguin and sexy girl, isn't a lot in terms of enemy variety.

   Dungeon Travelers 2 gives exactly what it sells itself as, a dungeon crawling RPG full of scantily clad females. The battles are pretty standard, the dungeons are overly complicated and time consuming, and the story is rather dull. There are plenty of reasons to dislike this game without needing to get into the sexualization of every female in the game. My biggest piece of advice when it comes to this game is to play the demo. You will experience everything the game has to offer in it and you will know very quickly whether you can stomach the fan service.

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