Although Death Jr. probably would have been talked about a lot had the game not been with the official announcement of the PSP, it never would have got such widespread notoriety either. Whatever the case the PSP is now out and we are a year after the original release of Death Jr. for the handheld. The original game was one that had tons of potential and a story to kill, literally, however the final product was a combination of good idea and some poor execution. Well now with the experience under their belt, Konami is back with Backbone Entertainment to try and make the second experience an even more enjoyable one then the first. How successful are they? Read our full review to find out!
So let’s just take a brief moment and talk about last year’s game, which will help lead up to what you find in this here sequel. One of the big problems was that the overlying concepts were all there and they seemed fantastic. You have a great concept being the son of the Grimm Reaper, and a good cast of supporting characters that really help drive the game. However, the gameplay being a mix of both action and platforming didn’t really manage to give an all around great experience. Does Death Jr. 2 improve upon some of these shortcomings?
One of the big changes in this year’s game is that you will not only be taking the role of DJ (main character), but instead you will also take control of his good friend Pandora, who we did see in last year’s game. In concept this would mean more variety in the gameplay department, but unfortunately Pandora’s character doesn’t play all that different from DJ, and doesn’t add a whole lot of extra change to the experience. In fact, much of the controls and feel of the two characters feel close to identical, which is kind of disappointing.
The flow or the pace of the game also feels extremely familiar and something I was surprised to see so similar to last year’s game. The game has both platforming and action sequences that are both kind of comprised within each other, and you will find yourself going back and forth between the two. One of the newer touches in the game are the weapons, which is a lot more versatile then last year and it just feels like there are more new weapons to unlock as you go. The weapons are used for both taking out enemies and often times helping you progress through the game.
Just like in last year’s game you are given an experience that just sort of hangs around in the middle, not sure where exactly it wants to go. And that is exactly the feeling you get throughout the game, as there just never seemed to be that killer idea that took this franchise to the next level. Technically the game is solid with great controls and a pretty good camera that works well in almost all of the environments. The end product, however, just feels as though it needed something else added to get that extra kick that would have spiced up the experience a little bit more.
Last year’s game definitely had a very unique style that I can’t say I have really seen before and once again that style comes in with a very fresh feel here in the sequel to last year’s game. One of the big factors to the success of the visual department is the use of color, which really varies and helps to bring some different looks into the game. Also the environments, although somewhat repetitive, are actually extremely well detailed and seem to have been designed with great caution and detail. The entire game just consistently keeps a very high standard and really does help out other facets of the game by doing so.
The game looks great, it even sounds great, but the gameplay really does hold this game back from the next level. This happens for a couple of reasons, one being that there is really nothing new or fresh about this game that would make it a huge upgrade from last year’s game. Also the addition character (Pandora), although a welcome addition, once again doesn’t manage to add much depth or a different feel to the game. In the end, Death Jr. 2 is a good solid experience, but one that really needed some new fresh ideas.
It is hard to see a game that plays as well as Death Jr. 2 struggle to really find its core strength and run on it. This is a game that feels like a lot of great ideas (story, visuals, sound), but doesn’t manage to bring those into new and engaging gameplay. Some may find the rest enough to make up for the gameplay, however I am under the impression that most gamers are going to be wishing the game had more variety to offer.
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.