While an Adults Only rating from the ESRB only raises the age requirement from 17 to 18, it is essentially a death knell for any video game. The reason being is that retailers, even ones that exclusively deal in gaming, are hesitant to stock any Adults Only products in their stores, or sell them through their online shops. Several prominent titles have come close to gaining an Adults Only rating in the past, such as Manhunt 2, but were edited for content to ensure a Mature rating instead.
The latest game to almost receive the Adults Only rating is Aquaplus and Atlus’ Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & The Monster Seal. In order to receive a Mature rating, Atlus had to edit some of the more risqué pieces of artwork. Considering the kind of sexually suggestive art that’s still present in Aquaplus’ dungeon crawling RPG, it would be interesting to see what had to be edited. These edits have received a lot of attention for what would be considered a niche release, so is the fan service found in Dungeon Travelers 2 worth having, or does it subtract from an otherwise solid game?
The general setup to Dungeon Travelers 2 is as generic as can be. Players take the role of Fried, a brand new member of the Royal Library, who has an interest in monsters on an academic level. It is Fried’s job to command a party of adventurers against these evil monsters who have popped up throughout the land, and capture them. This simple plot is enough to get players in dungeons, but does very little to capture the imagination.
If you’ve played other 3D dungeon crawlers, such as Atlus’ own Etrian Odyssey series, then you’ll immediately feel right at home with Dungeon Travelers 2. Dungeons are fully represented on-screen through 3D visuals, but you’ll spend most of your time staring at the game’s map in order to not get lost. Since every corridor looks the same in each level, it is very easy to lose your bearings in the first-person labyrinths that you explore.
Enemy encounters are frequent inside the dungeons, and this is where Dungeon Travelers 2 really shines. The combat system is simple enough to where it will feel familiar to anyone who has played a turn-based RPG, but has enough depth to constantly keep the player’s attention. Fried will command each of his five party members to attack enemies, and direct them on when they should use their special skills. Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Order & The Monster Seal does very little to innovate, but it’s one of the best playing dungeon crawlers that I’ve seen in a long time.
Each of the game’s five main character classes, which range from your typical fighter to more unique choices such as the maid, have their own unique skill trees to customize. These can be redone at any time, so players are constantly able to change their play style if they want to. Dungeon Travelers 2 gives you a ton of freedom in how the game is played, but thankfully, every part is thoroughly explained and paced out expertly. This way, players are never overwhelmed by the battle systems, or left wondering what to do.
The customization options don’t end there, as you can also put their own spin on character classes. Once each character reaches a certain level, the base class can be upgraded into a more specific one. This means the fighter can become a Paladin, a magic user into a Priestess, etc.. This adds further depth to the game, which is essential as there’s over 80 hours of content. Dungeon Travelers 2 does a fantastic job of always making the player feel like they are working toward a goal, so no grinding is ever done in vain.
The bulk of the main story will have the player going through dungeons to capture powerful mutant monsters which serve as boss fights. These battles are difficult affairs that feel like a real accomplishment once the mutant is defeated. This is also where Dungeon Travelers 2 runs into a bit of a problem – as it tries to reward the player with provocative artwork after each battle. The art shows the mutants, which like most of the enemies in the game are cutely drawn girls, tied up and in a sexual position.
Not only is this fan service totally unnecessary, but it actively takes away from the game. Instead of feeling accomplished after beating a boss, players have to look at an embarrassing image of a monster (who usually looks like a 13-year old girl) until the dialogue sequence ends. It is almost tragic that Dungeon Travelers 2 has to rely on such shock value for attention, as the core gameplay really is fantastic.
Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & The Monster Seal has other issues besides its creepy fan service, too, as the dungeons in the later parts of the game add difficulty in the cheapest ways possible. Instead of relying on smart puzzle design, the game instead focuses on gimmicks such as invisible walls that make navigation a complete hassle. Navigation was already one of the game’s weak points, so it made very little sense to make it even more complicated.
Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & The Monster Seal is one of the best dungeon crawlers ever made, despite some level designs that are more frustrating than fun. That being said, it isn’t the easiest title to recommend due to its sexually suggestive fan service. An option to make the images optional would have gone a long way in broadening the appeal of Aquaplus’ RPG. If you are willing to overlook some rather unfortunate images though, then you should absolutely pick up this gem of an RPG.
This review is based on the PlayStation Vita version, which we were provided with for review.
Dungeon Travelers 2 is a fun dungeon crawler with a ton of depth, but its insistence on fan service limits the overall appeal.