ATLUS has been partnering up with Aquaplus in recent years, bringing over an eclectic mix of titles from their library from the more strategic stylings of Tears to Tiara II to the Aquapazza fighting game. Now, Aquaplus is bringing out a dungeon RPG called Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & The Monster Seal, hot on the heals of an early August release of the latest Etrian Odyssey title. Is Dungeon Travelers 2 worthy of becoming a part of your library, or should this lascivious title be better off sealed away?
Dungeon Travelers 2 opens with players assuming the role of Fried, a newly minted Libra tasked with protecting the world and the general other do-good nonsense that role-playing games so love to set up as the backdrop for your adventures. While there’s not much in terms of creative liberty with the storytelling, at best it’s a vehicle for giving you motivation behind wanting to go into various dungeons across the country and seal away various unsavory monster types.
As the party’s Libra, it’s your job to give the party members commands as well as seal monsters in your Libra Book for later use. Each and every monster you defeat gets sealed away and there’s plenty of incentive to trap as many as you can. Acquiring nine of a given monster outright will fill in details in the bestiary about their weaknesses and other affinities. In addition, you’ll be able to convert batches of these monsters into various Libra Books for your companions to equip.
These sealbooks also work as one of the primary moneymakers for funding your explorations, so converting and selling large quantities of these sealbooks will keep your party funded for the occasional merchant you might come across. Regular monsters will confer abilities to your heroines, such as increasing their Critical Hit Rate or even a slight HP/TP restoration buff. The bosses you encounter can be converted into Grand Sealbooks, powerful party enhancements that only the main character can equip that can easily be swapped about depending on the player’s playstyle.
The dungeons themselves in Dungeon Travelers 2 are as much a character as the heroines in your party. Each of the various locales have different tactics and map variations, such as pitfalls or dark areas where the map is obscured. You’ll be frequenting the same dungeons quite often, whether its for the next story mission, some new Sealbooks to sell for a quick bit of cash, or the various sidequests that involve gathering up particular goods or sealing away a certain number of enemy beasts.
Combat itself should feel familiar to players that might have dabbled with a bit of the Etrian Odyssey series or the recently released Operation Abyss. Your party consists of five party members at a given time (don’t worry, LOTS more join your group later on, so mixing and matching pedigrees is quite important) set across both front and back rows. The front line is typically reserved for those with limited attack ranges, such as a Spieler that joins your party early on with a specialization in daggers or Alicia whose traits truly shine when she becomes a Paladin and can defend the rest of the party from attacks. The back row, as one would expect, is where characters such as assassins or magic users would hang out, away from the immediate reach of enemy attacks. From what I’ve noticed, the two rows don’t necessarily dictate enmity or priority for the enemy’s attacks, just rather attack ranges (so an enemy with only a short range attack wouldn’t hit the back row and so forth).
A handy turn marker in combat is useful for figuring out whose turn is coming up next in combat or when an enemy’s spell will be set to go off (smacking down an enemy any time the word CHANTING appears on screen is all important if you don’t want to randomly lose a party member to a 300 HP damage fireball out of the blue). The same goes for your party as well, with regular attacks and most skills going off instantaneously. On the downside, spells and other select skills do have a casting time to consider before they go into effect and I would’ve preferred if the developers had put in an option to see how far down the turn order a given spell would push the character before I selected to cast the spell. All too often I’d begin casting a spell to knock out an entire enemy line only to have the rest of my party decimate that line before the spell could be cast, worse yet wasting a large chunk of TP on a spell that only hits one enemy on the field.
Each of the girls that join Fried’s party are customizable in terms of class progression. Leveling up gives the girls’ extra skill points to allocate to various abilities in their arsenal, from new attacks and spells to more passive buffs and regenerative abilities. Early on, I found that investing extra skill points in the mage’s various spells wasn’t a smart option as they not only increased the damage and TP usage, but also increased the casting delay and would make the spell come out much later in combat than I’d originally like. I found that it was worth while to invest just a single point in each skill and instead focus more on passive abilities that would give a constant damage bonus or whatever could help to regenerate HP/TP.
Every character has a base class or specialty that they begin the adventure with, so sadly your Mage-type character will never grow up to be a paladin or berserker. Instead, they have a number of advanced classes at their disposal. These advanced classes can be selected with one branching path at level 15 and a second advanced mastery at level 30. If you feel that you’ve taken a wrong turn in a character’s growth, there is a Level Reset option to drop down their levels and skill allocations but it will take a fair bit of grinding to get back up to a functional state for most characters.
Given the developer AQUAPLUS’ pedigree in storytelling, it should come as no surprise that Dungeon Travelers 2 features more than a fair bit of fan service to spice up the action. Frequent dialogue exchanges between party members and important story NPC’s straddle the line of still being permissible in a PG-13 setting while not being too explicit in their content. Panty shots and other various forms of exposed underwear pop up throughout the story in a rather prolific fashion. Defeating most major bosses in the story will present the player with a fan service scene featuring the female antagonist in various compromising situations, yet no actual nudity is ever shown.
Even without the fan service to back it up, there is still plenty of enjoyment to be found in Dungeon Travelers 2 for the RPG aficionado. Those squeamish around a bit of exposed flesh might find there to be too much adult content for their liking which lamentably can’t be turned off or toned down for those that might be inclined to play this particular title in public view.
In the sum of its parts, Dungeon Travelers feels like more of a peep show and less of an adventure to save the world by the time the story reaches its conclusion. Players easily offended by the show of skin might not find themselves wanting to finish this RPG but those that can look past a little innuendo will find an easygoing RPG with plenty of party customization and grab-and-go sized RPG battles.
[Editor’s note: Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & The Monster Seal was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita. Review code was provided to us by the publisher for the purposes of critique.]Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & The Monster Seal Review,