Dusk Diver Switch Review: A Taiwanese Anime Hack ‘n’ Slash


Dusk Diver is an anime styled hack ‘n’ slash set in the Ximending district in Taipei, Taiwan. You play as Yang Yumo a high school student thrown into a world of guardian deities (a mystical race called Kunlunians) and chaos beasts when she strolls into the alternate dimension of Youshanding and accidentally has a guardian’s power transferred into her while he’s saving her. Now it falls to you to save the world from the chaos beasts attempting to invade. 

Or is there another reason gods and chaos beasts gather there?

Combat is simple as one would expect from a hack ‘n’ slash but it does introduce elements to make it interesting and most importantly plays very smoothly with just the odd dip in frames when docked or when things get really hectic (with updates coming to make it silky smooth regardless). There’s light, heavy and summon attacks, the latter allowing you to summon one of three guardians with different specialities. Dusk Diver has no blocking, instead opting for dodging with a ‘just dodge’ feature when you dodge right before an attack. I love this as it slows down enemies and makes you feel like a god as you lay the smack down but it has a cooldown timer so you can’t spam it. As you fight and use summon attacks you collect TP which once maxed allows you to go into a Super Saiyan All Might mode unleashing a fury of powerful attacks ending it with one super powered attack similar to other hack ‘n’ slash games. Dusk Diver hasn’t got the most exhaustive move set but the different guardians do help mix it up plus you slowly unlock more guardian attacks keeping things fresh.

KAME HAME DETROIT SMASH!

Unfortunately there’s very few enemy types and a lot look more like colour palette swaps despite having different attacks and some having super armour. A lot of the enemies are just cannon fodder but some do have bite too. Speaking of bite bosses have a gigantic difficulty spike, one level I went from barely being hit only once to not even doing half damage to the boss then having to play through the whole level again to have another attempt at the crazily more difficult boss. This is when I learnt to use all the features available in Dusk Diver to their fullest, went back and beat that son of a chaos beast to hell and back with no problems.

My tasty secret to beating bosses.

There’s a lot of different types of missions with story missions, guardian missions to unlock new moves as your friendship increases, boss missions to increase items sold, with all of these having a hard mode too. The missions have rankings to add more replay value but are solely based on time. This was probably a decision to force you to replay levels as an S rank will often give you a dragon vein shard (needed to go on story missions) but the first time you play a mission you’ll be scouring Youshanding for the Hidden dragon vein shards within the mission rather than worrying about time. For a nice change of pace there’s link quests which consists of helping out the locals by mostly doing fetch quests around Ximending to level up your Super Saiyan mode, I really enjoyed these as it both mixed up the gameplay and makes you explore Ximending and appreciate its colourful surroundings.

Sneaky little buggers those dragon vein shards.

Completing missions and finding dragon vein stones gain you skill points used for upgrading Yang’s stats and you can eat out in Ximending at a whole bunch of tasty looking street food stalls and restaurants giving a different perk for each and improving your friendship level with the guardians. Choosing which perk to take into battle is a hard choice but usually I went with extra boss damage to combat the difficulty spike.

I laughed a few times through the game.

Dusk Diver’s Ximending reminded me an awful lot of Tokyo Mirage Sessions’ Shibuya in terms of aesthetic and vibrant colourful textures, making it feel full of life and a place worthy of a real life visit albeit with slightly disappointing colourful silhouettes roaming about until you get close enough for them to pop into a featureless low poly look that I do love but looks poor in contrast to the fantastic looking main characters. Whereas Youshanding, the other realm, looks quite bland, everything’s dull, square and looks the same. The chaos beasts within Youshanding look as if they could’ve been plucked out of RWBY as they bare a striking resemblance to the Grimm. The camera has a mind of its own in Youshanding leaving me often looking at the mini map to make sure I was facing enemies but this wasn’t a problem and it can easily be reset or you can lock onto an enemy.

Not the best view but cool nonetheless.

This is the first game I’ve ever played with Chinese voice acting and it was superb and a nice change from the norm. Dusk Diver has a Japanese dub by default but similarly to how many feel about Japanese dub in many games and anime, I think the Chinese dub gives it extra authenticity and character, plus the main guardian summon Leo sounds like he says “Here’s your dinner” in some of his attacks. There’s quite a few songs in Dusk Diver but the soundtrack really plays a back seat in the sound department though it does help set the scene throughout the story.

Damn straight there’s your dinner of doom.

Charming is the best word to describe Dusk Diver, Ximending is a lovely place to explore and action is fast paced and fluid for the most part. I found myself enjoying Dusk Diver more and more as I got further into the game as all the systems clicked and characters start really showing their personalities. It’s a little pricey for something that feels like it could’ve been at home on the PSVita but for what seems to be Taiwanese developers JERA Game Studio’s first game it’s a great start and I look forward to seeing what they do next. The story took me about 11-12 hours plus there’s plenty to do after you finish the story with attempting to collect all the dragon vein shards and S rank every mission, I only had 67 of 153 dragon vein shards when I finished. If you’re a fan of a good hack ‘n’ slash, Dusk Diver will definitely scratch that itch in that awkward place that not many other games reach.

It’s raining SP (for summon attacks) and TP orbs.

Dusk Diver is available both physically and digitally on the eShop 25th October for £34.99/$39.99/€39.99. A huge thank you to PQube for providing the review code.

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