Dusk Diver 酉閃町
Yang Yumo is just an ordinary high school student until one day when she arrives at Exit 6 of the MRT station in Ximending. Yumo is supposed to meet up with her friend, Yusha, for some fun in the vibrant shopping district, but instead, they end up being attacked by some otherworldly monsters. Fortunately for the two, a man named Leo intervenes and saves them, but that is just the start of the adventure for Yumo. Somehow, she ends up absorbing all of Leo’s powers, which leaves him in the form of a small lion statue. Not only does this provide her with a funky new hairstyle, but also allows her to hold her own in combat against the so-called Chaos Beasts that are threatening Ximending. This change obviously causes some consternation for Leo, who is not actually a human, but a guardian from another realm called Kunlun. To make a long story short, Yumo ends up working at a convenience store in Ximending, run by another Kunlunian, to assist them with the Chaos Beast incursion. With her newfound powers and the martial arts that she learned from watching television, Yumo soon becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Dusk Diver is a “Musou” style beat ’em up game that favors a very stylish anime look. Players take control of Yumo as she discovers about the hidden realm of Youshanding, which is filled with phantoms and only appears at dusk in Ximending. Thanks to rifts that are appearing, the Chaos Beasts that inhabit Youshanding are starting to become a nuisance and it is up to Yumo to drive them back. Normally this task would be handled by Leo, who has been the guardian of Ximending for a long time. Unfortunately, thanks to Yumo absorbing his powers. he can only assist her with her new duties. Leo is not the only Kunlunian Yumo meets either. Apart from Boss, the owner of the convenience store who is trapped in a rather unique body, there are also other guardians in the area. However, Yumo will first have to defeat them to bring them back to their senses and then draw upon their powers to assist her in future battles.
What sets Dusk Diver apart from the usual titles in the genre is the fact that it is set in Taipei, Taiwan, and specifically Ximending, a very faithful recreation of the popular shopping district. The developers are Taiwanese, so they obviously took great pride in designing the setting for the game to be as accurate as possible. They even managed to get permission from some of the actual shops in Ximending to add them to the game, which is great. Visually, the game looks great with its vibrant surroundings and unique character designs. Both the 2D sprites and 3D models of the main characters in the game look good, so fans of anime-style visuals are in for a treat. What is even better is that throughout the game players can also unlock a variety of different outfits for all four of the major characters. Ximending and Youshanding are basically the same in terms of layout, but while the former is bright and vibrant, the latter is darker and features a neon-heavy aesthetic.
Dusk Diver is very much a “Musou” style beat ’em up in terms of gameplay, but there is more to the game than just demolishing hordes of enemies. The game actually takes place in both Ximending and Youshanding, with the latter being where all the action takes place. While in Ximending Yumo is just an ordinary girl and doesn’t use her powers, which means that her guardian companions revert to their human forms. When Yumo is not working in the convenience store, she gets to explore Ximending and purchase food from the variety of restaurants and food stalls that are dotted about. Buying food not only boosts certain stats but also raises the friendship levels of your companions. Once you’ve raised these enough, you will gain access to special training levels where Yumo unlocks a new move for battle.
Ximending is also where you will find the various side-quests in the game, which are referred to as “Links.” These are all purely optional, but make for a nice change of pace and mostly involved running around and talking to different people. Your reward for completing these quests is a boost to Yumo’s special ability in battle, called D. ARMS, but more on that later. Finally, scattered throughout Ximending you’ll also find special Dragon Vein Stone fragments, which is the key to unlocking the main story missions. These fragments also provide you with skill points that can be used to boost Yumo’s stats, so they are well worth seeking out. Later in the game, you’ll also discover special gacha machines that reward players with new costumes, healing items, or concept art for a price. Your base of operations in Ximending is the convenience store, where you get to save your progress, purchase or sell items, change outfits, or just hang out and chat with your companions.
In contrast to the relative tranquility of Ximending, there is Youshanding where it’s all about the combat. There are a few missions that try to shake things up a bit by requiring you to be stealthy, do some platforming sections, or even chase down an enemy, but for the most part, it’s kill or be killed. The Chaos Beasts you’ll face in Youshanding comes in all shapes and sizes, so you’ll need to deal with them in different ways. Most of the smaller ones can simply be pummeled to oblivion, but a few of the larger ones require a bit more finesse. Yumo can perform a light and heavy attack, which can be strung together for combos. There is also a button for summoning a guardian of your choice, who performs an assist move, provided you have enough “SP” points. You also have a dodge button, which is great for avoiding enemy attacks and can trigger a slow-motion period if used at the right time. Finally, if you have charged up your companions enough by summoning their aid during battle, you can initialize D.ARMS, which basically supercharges Yumo for a short time. Not only is she stronger and faster in this mode, but can also unleash particularly devastating team attacks. These have to be unlocked first by completing all the training with your allies, but they can really turn the tide during battle.
All things considered, the battle system is not as sophisticated as something like the Devil May Cry series, but it is still a lot of fun. Like all “Musou” type games, there is a certain amount of repetition involved, but this is unavoidable for the genre. We did find it a bit finicky to lock on to enemies with precision and most foes take a huge amount of hits before they go down, but all in all the game is quite easy. It’s not uncommon to have combos that stretch into the hundreds as the cool-down between hits is quite generous and getting knocked down does not reset the combo. Players in search of a bigger challenge can always attempt to improve their grade, which is based on the time it takes to complete the mission. Missions can also be retried on “Hard” mode, which makes things slightly more difficult, but yields greater rewards.
The audio for Dusk Diver is very good and features a lot of upbeat tunes that get the adrenaline flowing without becoming annoying. The sound effects are about what one can expect from a “Musou” game, so there’s plenty of shouting and punching as well as kicking noises. The developers did a commendable job with the voice acting, which is available in both Japanese and Mandarin. Unfortunately, we can’t understand either language, but the actors and actresses all sound good. English subtitles are available for all the dialog, but we did notice some spelling and grammar issues crop up. Another unfortunate side effect of the subtitles is that it’s easy to miss out on entire conversations that take place during battle. It turns out that stringing together a five hundred hit combo while trying to read what your characters are talking about at the same time is not quite so easy.
We played Dusk Diver with a wireless Xbox controller and had no issues pulling off any of the moves or combos. There are quite a few buttons involved when it comes to switching guardians, using healing items and activating special moves, so playing with a keyboard and mouse can be a bit awkward. The controls work great for the most part, but have clearly been designed around combat and not platforming, which makes some of the platforming sections a bit annoying.
Overall, we really enjoyed Dusk Diver although there were a couple of issues. The whole “bonding” with your companions is a great feature, but honestly, it could have been fleshed out a lot more. All of them have great designs and cool back-stories, so we would have liked to spend more time getting to know them better. There are some brief sections where they reveal more about themselves, but for the most part, it is easy to level up their friendship levels by simply buying all the food in sight. This is a pity seeing as one of your companions is a vegetarian bat guardian with a butler named Alfred and the other is a beautiful part-time model who turns into a little goldfish. Finally, most levels in Dusk Diver are very linear and even the open-world setting of Ximending doesn’t have that much to offer apart from the very easy side missions.
Despite all of this we definitely had a blast playing Dusk Diver and only encountered a single crash that set us back a bit. The setting and character designs are the highlights of the game, but the combat is also fun once you get the hang of it. The storyline is pretty standard, so it’s a pity that more time wasn’t devoted to fleshing out the system of bonding with your companions. Veterans might find Dusk Diver somewhat on the easy side, but there are plenty of achievements to aim for and replaying missions on “Hard” does up the challenge a bit. If you are a fan of the genre, love the anime visual style, or simply want a beat ’em up with a unique setting, then Dusk Diver won’t disappoint.
- OS: Windows 7/Windows 10 64Bit
- Processor: Intel Core i5-6400
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 5 GB available space
- OS: Windows 10 64Bit
- Processor: Intel Core i5-7600
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050ti
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 5 GB available space