The year 2015 is officially over and with that, game of the year awards from several publications have been posted and seen by many. Awards have been handed out for categories ranging from best soundtrack to the elusive game of the year. Unfortunately, awards like these sometimes tend to gloss over certain worthy releases and that’s perfectly understandable. Even with multiple people working under a publication, it’s impossible to have played every single game released in a given year. Naturally, some games will slip through the cracks(people also have different views). The game in question that has slipped through the cracks is Dungeon Travelers 2. No, this isn’t the best game of the year nor should it be nominated with some of the gargantuan competition it had this year, but it does deserve recognition.
Not a single mainstream publication has nominated or even mentioned Dungeon Travelers 2 when a discussion of the best handheld games of the year springs up; a worrying anomaly for the few that have actually played it. It’s certainly not a game for everyone, but it excels at what it sets out to do. Dungeon Travelers 2 is the rpg for gamers that love “rpg stuff”. If you hate rpg’s, especially turn based rpg’s, then this game will be a huge turn off and nothing will change your mind. For the rpg enthusiasts, though, it is one of the most gratifying handheld and role playing experiences of the year.
It may not have an expansive open world or intricate narrative–exploration is tied to picking icons on an overworld map and choosing a dungeon to go into and the narrative is basic with character archetypes any anime or jrpg lover will be familiar with, but it rises above these archetypes with charm and humor. Dungeon Travelers 2 embraces its straightforward narrative and archetypes by injecting itself with humor and fourth-wall-breaking jokes. This humor isn’t just tied to dialogue. It also extends to items and item descriptions. An item known as Rap Candy in-game contains the following description: “Invokes the undeniable urge to rap. You’ll be the real Kandy-e West.”
With such absurd and self-referential humor, Dungeon Travelers 2 has more heart and character than one would expect from passively observing on the sidelines. Beyond the humor, lies the aforementioned “rpg stuff”. Fans of maximizing builds and finding the right party composition will find a lot to like. With the first full party of five given to the player, each character starts off as a base class such as magic user or fighter. Once that character reaches level fifteen, she is able to branch off into one of two or three sub-classes depending on the base class and then at level thirty, can branch off again.
You can do all this without losing any previously learned abilities. The system is malleable, allowing for extensive experimentation without punishing the player too harshly for going down the wrong path. Levels can be reset at any point to level 1, 15, or 30 with the ability to redistribute skill points as you see fit when picking a new class. This handy level reset feature also plays a role in the game’s crowning system. Resetting from the current level to the target level with a difference of at least sixty levels will grant a permanent stat boost with a minimum of +2 and a maximum of +5 for the reset. These bonuses can stack up multiple times until the character reaches +50.
There are other forms of customization such as a blacksmith which allows any non-special item to be enchanted up to a total of five times with a spell book. Spell books are created by defeating nine of each enemy type with roughly 350 of these. Multiple spell books of the same type can be created to sell at a shop, equip onto a character for various bonuses, or to use in enchantment, though it can be unreliable seeing as the blacksmith’s appearance is relegated to the good old random number generator.
With a title like Dungeon Travelers 2, dungeon crawling is the name of the game. In this case, dungeon crawling is experienced through a first person perspective with the map automatically filling in walls and obstacles as the player traverses each environment with random battles thrown in there. With a missing auto-battle feature, paying close attention to each situation is a necessity even against lower level enemies(unless there is a wide gap of more than fifteen levels). That may sound like a drag to some, but it keeps each fight interesting and the infectious battle music combined with the fundamentally solid turned based combat ensures that repetition never becomes a serious issue. Maps can be dull at first with very straightforward paths, but as the story progresses, dungeons become far more labyrinthine in nature.
Late game dungeons feel like an adventure–Multiple floors separated by ladders, holes in the ground, walls that can be walked through, switches for opening certain colored doors, color coded symbols for teleportation, etc. It may not have the FOE’s of Etrian Odysey or the satisfaction and obsessive compulsiveness that comes with drawing out your own map, but it does have more engaging dungeon navigation. Saving is also possible at any point within a dungeon; a blessing considering how confusing they can be become at times.
2015 is over and if you have any interest in rpg’s whatsoever, you owe it to yourself to try out Dungeon Travelers 2. It’s one of the best rpg’s of 2015 and just one of the best games of the year. Don’t let this gem pass you up.