It seems like it’s been a while since Dark Cloud sneaked into the gaming world and stunned many of us by being an excellent RPG that reminded many gamers of the great Zelda Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64. So there was no surprise when Sony would come out with a sequel, and they have with Dark Cloud 2 a fantastic RPG that won’t fail to impress.
Let’s just get one main thing out of the way before the start of the review, if you did not enjoy Dark Cloud then there is a good chance you will not enjoy Dark Cloud 2. Dark Cloud 2 is mainly the same game with a new story line, with a lot of the major problems of the first being fixed, but all in all it’s the same type of game.
Throughout Dark Cloud 2 there is an on going story line that does start to pick up some speed later on in the game. You play as several different characters throughout the game but you start the game playing with Max. You are located in a small little town who only knows what is going on in there own little town, and nothing about what is happening in the outside world. In fact no one in the town has ever actually stepped foot out of the towns gates. But all of this will change when the circus comes to town and throws Max for the biggest spin of his life.
So after the initial cut scenes and the beginning Gameplay sequences, the true heart of the game will start with you trying to escape town. In these caves you will find the basics of what Dark Cloud 2 is all about. If you have played the first Dark Cloud then you will remember several upon several of dungeons in which you needed the key to move onto the next cave. Now like in the first Dark Cloud I will admit that this did get quite boring, and in fact there will be signs of the boredom in some of the dungeons of Dark Cloud 2. But I believe that Level-5 has done a much better job of spreading things around a bit and doing a good job of mixing things up so you don’t feel like your doing the same thing over and over again.
If you have read anything up on Dark Cloud 2 you have most likely heard of the Dark Cloud series as being the Zelda for the PlayStation. For the most part this is a pretty accurate comparison. Being an avid Zelda fan for many years since the NES version, it does seem like the two do compare quite well. This is most notably found in the fighting portions of the game. The two games both are considered RPG’s but don’t have the traditional turn based action fighting system, which is a plus in my book. Instead you will be fighting in real time, which feels very similar to the Zelda series.
One of the key factors that separate Dark Cloud from the rest of the RPG pack, is the building portions of the game. This is still found in Dark Cloud 2, but is used in a way so that it has a much more important effect to how you can do in the game. You will have to meet certain requirements in order to complete your objectives for the town. These objectives can vary from simple tasks, to some that will be a lot more time consuming. Overall like in the first Dark Cloud I actually enjoyed the ability to build towns just as much as the RPG portions of the game.
As you make your way through the several dungeons and the several towns that you create you will be able to obtain new abilities and new weapons. Also like in the first game, you will have to pay attention to the health of your weapons, which do wear down after time, and can break. In this instance you will need to be able to repair them using the repair powder.. Luckily there is plenty of repair power to be found around the caves, so you want have to search every for some.
The controls of Dark Cloud 2 are extremely simple. There is no tutorial (per say) but the first levels are easy enough to where you will have plenty of time to learn them before the game starts to pick up some pace and gain some difficulty.
The one thing that does slow the game down a lot is the cutscenes. Let’s just say there are a "lot" of them, and almost all of them has some sort of voice acting. The voice acting throughout is nothing special but it gets the job done. Each characters voice matches what you would expect the character to sound like, and does a decent job of it. There is background music throughout the game but it isn’t anything that will catch your ears, it is just a mellow tune that is quite soothing.
Even though Dark Cloud was released only a few months after the PS2 was released, it still wasn’t an overly impressive looking title, but now the tides have changed and Level-5 has brought in the art of cel shading to the table to give Dark Cloud 2 some artistic flair. The characters of Dark Cloud 2 just look absolutely fantastic; they are heavily detailed, and excellently drawn out.
What really makes Dark Cloud 2 stand out, is not that the cel shading is so great, but that the whole game maintains an excellent appearance throughout. When you compare Dark Cloud 2 to other RPG’s already released with cel shading, Dark Cloud 2 proves to be top.
I just can’t emphasize enough how wonderful Dark Cloud 2 actually looks. Not only does it look good while standing still, but also looks excellent during scenes of action. Dark Cloud 2 could easily be one of the best looking games on the PS2, if not the best.
Is Dark Cloud 2 fun? Well that is an easy one; it is "extremely" fun. With so many dungeons and so much to do throughout the game it’s hard not to have fun. If cut scenes are not your thing then you will be happy to know that Level-5 has incorporated a nice feature of being able to skip them, which should be available for all games. Dark Cloud 2 is a game that also lets you do some many different things throughout the game that you will very rarely find yourself wanting to take a break from this one.
If you are jealous of Cube owners with the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, then here is a game that you can throw right back in their faces, because Dark Cloud 2 does everything you would want an Adventure RPG to do. With excellent graphics, and superb gameplay, you should definitely think about picking this one up!
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.