Dark Cloud 2 Review

Nebojsa Radakovic
Dark Cloud 2 Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 1

Publisher

  • Sony

Developer

  • SCEA

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PS2

rating

Silver linings.

Maximilian, an earnest young boy with a knack for invention, fatefully crosses

paths one day with Monica, a sword-wielding princess from the future. She has

traveled back in time because important people and places have been disappearing

left and right thanks to an evil force futzing around with time travel.

If something never began, then it ceases to exist. Remember in Back to

the Future
when Marty McFly starting fading away? That’s the idea. Together,

Max and Monica must restore the lost origin points, fixing the past to save

the future. And no, they don’t play any Check Berry songs.

Dark Cloud 2‘s origin point is the first Dark

Cloud
, an interesting release for the PS2 that mixed Zelda combat,

randomized dungeons and town-creation into a decent RPG. The sequel improves

upon every facet of the original, yet ultimately it suffers from some of the

same problems as its forbear.

The game starts out a touch slow, easing you into the many different playable

genres. From dungeons and town construction to the new “inventing with photography”

system, the game is brimming with things to do.

The random dungeons are divided into floors, and one random monster on each

floor has the exit key. I don’t know why a monster would have a key or why monsters

always carry money and items, but more importantly, you have to rob them and

beat them to death.

After completing one floor, the game can be saved, and it’s onward to the

next floor or a complete exit from the dungeon to run other errands. Despite

the dungeon label, there is a visible, conscience effort to make each “dungeon”

have a different look and feel.

The main disadvantage of randomized dungeons is that it feels less like a

truly contiguous world. Rather than looking at the lush scenery, I find myself

fixated on the little inset map, almost as if I’m still playing the original

DOS version of

Rogue
. Overall, these segments feel serial in nature, as you complete each

floor of the dungeon one by one.

Random dungeons do provide opportunities to build up your character statistics,

which is especially fun for stat-minded players. As an incentive to get more

play out of each floor, various challenges are listed. Some challenges require

you to conquer the dungeon in a specific form or fight with only a certain item

The combat is a cross between Zelda and Phantasy

Star Online
. After locking onto an opponent, Max and Monica can slash, shoot,

charge and block. Even though Ocarina of Time‘s combat is simpler in

comparison, the timing was more readily apparent. Dark Cloud 2 has smaller

windows of opportunity to fit in a block, and the varying damage by enemies

means you can be quickly caught by surprise for an unexpected death.

Max and Monica each have alternate forms, bringing the total number of playable

characters to four. The Ridepod, Max’s robotic ride, is my favorite form and

really livens up the combat. The experience points earned while in the Ridepod

go directly towards buying upgrades, from heavy blasting artillery and caterpillar

treads to dual katanas. Monica has the ability to turn into selected enemy characters.

Amusingly, while in this form, she can talk to other creatures of the same species.

It seems like monsters have much to complain about – as well they should, because

they keep getting robbed and beaten up.

In each new chapter of the game, you’ll find an area that has been beaten

down into an empty plain. The origin point has been erased, and you must recreate

the point by constructing a town that fits certain criteria. Building instructions

for these towns can be found scattered within the dungeons, locked within Geostones.

The Georama town constructing system feels more fleshed out and more open-ended

than in the original.

Another

open-ended addition is the Photography Invention system. Max is given a camera

that lets him “collect” an item by taking a photograph of it. After you’ve collected

a big list of photos, you put three of them together to create the blueprints

for an invention. There are hints dropped throughout the game on what three

items to put together in order to come up with something.

Despite the expansive list of special items to create, I wish the three items

that make an invention actually had more logical real-world thought behind them.

Coming up with an invention wholly on your own is almost utterly random. The

game helps out a bit – if you can get at least two of the three correct, some

clues will be provided on the third part. It’s a cool game idea, but it’s a

bit too restricted to really play correctly.

At the very least, running around and taking photos forces you notice the impressive

attention to detail. In one shop, I found a Dali-esque melting clock, drooping

atop a cabinet. Dark Cloud 2‘s cel-shaded style paints a very pretty

picture; it’s a solid look filled with detail and color. The consistent style

pushes the pleasant storybook atmosphere of the game.

While the music is rich and filled with emotional touches, it gets repetitive.

The voices are well cast, but the writing behind the dialogue varies. For example,

one character has a long drawl to everything he says; it’s overdone and adds

little to his character.

Once the game finally gets up to speed, it devolves into cycles of fighting

simply to earn gold, which is used to buy building pieces for towns. The town

parts are constructed to trigger events in the future that lead into boss battles,

and thus leading towards more dungeons to explore.

Again, Dark Cloud 2 is very serial in nature. It’s a game you can pick

up and play for a few hours, stomping though a few dungeon floors, trying to

solve a problem or two, but after a while it meanders towards repetition. In

truth, the game is filled with innumerable challenges, likable characters and

a high production value. But beneath the surface, the lightweight story and

characters combined with the almost rigidly episodic game flow still hold it

back. It’s a marked improvement, but the standards have gone up as well.

 

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

3.5
Rating
Improves upon the original
So many things to do
The Ridepod!
Storybook graphics
Slow to start
Repetition
Lightweight story and characters