Persona Kagura 5: Re-Newal
Sometime in 2019 I was searching through the dusty, cob-webbed pages of eBay and Amazon, looking for hidden gems, when I came across DuskDiver. A game stuck between Senran Kagura (which TheDblTap, a man of impeccable culture, reviewed earlier in 2020) and Persona 5 which isn’t a half bad place to exist, if I’m being honest.
Story & Characters
As far as video game stories go, DuskDiver doesn’t tread new ground or reinvent the narrative wheel. However, what ground it does tread, it does it well enough to keep you interested for the very few short hours it takes to see everything the game has to offer.
Yang Yumo and her friend, Yusha, arrive in the Taiwanese city if Ximending when they mysteriously fall into a parallel version of the city where demons roam freely. Things take a turn for the worse when Yusha is attacked and Yumo is powerless to help. Luckily, a god named Leo approaches and offers to lend his powers to Yumo so that she can save her friend. Unfortunately, Leo’s power ends up stuck inside Yumo and together they must figure out how to separate themselves and uncover the reason for the increasing number of demon attacks on the right-side-up version of Ximending.
From there the game opens up as you are given free rein to explore the city, which is crowded and lived in but not enough that it becomes overwhelming to navigate. There are plenty of food shops for you to discover which double as a way to buff Yumo’s attack or defence stats between chapters. You can also find a handful of interesting characters you can meet hiding in the streets that will give you LINK quests. Of course you can also search every nook and cranny of the city for Dragon Shards which are hidden quite well.
The real hotspot of Ximdending is Boss’ Shop where Yumo ends up working alongside the companions she meets. Here is where you can launch companion training missions, Boss’ requests and replay completed chapters. Once you become a regular at a restaurant, you can also have food delivered here which becomes convenient when replaying the chapters on hard. The highlight of Boss’ Shop is that Leo and the other companions hang out here and you can talk to them between chapters to really get to know them.
There are 3 companions you can unlock and all of them are introduced as part of the story. Leo is the first companion you’ll meet and he’s probably the best in terms of raw damage. He has an ability that just melts shields and health bars.
Bahet has the least amount of presence, however, he has the best crowd control moves which become absolutely vital while playing the chapters on hard mode. He also has the least interesting design.
Viada is the best for… er, well… 2 very obvious, bouncy reasons. Unfortunately, she has the worst damage output and skills which makes her the least viable option for both normal and hard playthroughs.
Aside from the 3 companions, you’ll be bumping into Yusha from time to time, but she’s such a non-character that she could have been completely cut from the game and nothing would change. She serves purely as a McGuffin for Yumo to rescue.
Gameplay & Challenge
At the start of each chapter, Yumo and the gang will discuss the latest threat and then zip out the door in search of the “tear” to the upside-down (which is called Youshanding) to solve it. It’s inside the upside-down that you’ll be introduced to the meat and potatoes of DuskDiver. It’s a beat-em up. A group of enemies will spawn and Yumo will have to use her fists and powers to beat them to a pulp before you can continue on to the nest section. There’s always at least one objective to complete in each chapter–like locating a key to unlock a giant wall.
The enemies aren’t very complicated or diverse. There are small pawn types which are typically killed with a few regular punches. Sometimes these enemies will spawn with some floating balls that are slow and weak, but later in the game they can pack quite a punch. The most challenging enemies have shields, which regenerate incredibly fast if you don’t deal damage within a few seconds. There are 2 types of shielded enemies, a humanoid with dual swords and a small dog-like creature.
Enemies start off with purple and orange colours, but will later appear as blue and green. Their colour isn’t the only thing that changes as the blue enemies have more shields and higher DPS with the green enemies being the toughest of the lot. There also exists larger variations on the dual sword and dog type enemies which exist as a sort of sub-boss.
Speaking of bosses, some chapters in DuskDiver end with a boss fight. These are quite simple at first with them having a healthy shield pool and an obscene amount of health. Most bosses only have about 3 attack moves which are all easily telegraphed and dodged effortlessly. The first difficulty spike comes later once the big bad guy of the game is revealed and you must fight it, but still only has 3 attacks which becomes easy to dodge after you’ve been hit by them once or twice.
There are quite a few combos you can do as Yumo, but the best one is , , , , , , (which later can be upgraded to add a few more presses). The best part about this attack is that you can skip the first attack phase when you activate D.Arms—Yumo’s ultimate ability which increases her attack power—and if you get a D.Arms Duration Lv. 3 buff from eating before a mission, you can enter D.Arms mode and keep it filled for the whole chapter. Which means all you need to do is use Bahet for crowd control and mass at every encounter and the S Rank is pretty much guaranteed.
My DuskDiver Platinum Journey
As far as platinum journeys go, DuskDiver is very simple. There are 38 trophies (including the platinum). 6 are for playing the story, 4 for maxing out familiarity with all vendors, 6 for collecting all Gacha rewards, 7 for completing all LINK quests, 4 for maxing out Yumo’s and her companions skills, 3 for completing training with all companions and a trophy each for spending 50k at Boss’ shop, acquiring all gallery content, making the tree behind Boss’ shop bloom, finishing Boss’ side requests, finding all Dragon Stones and getting S Rank in all chapters and missions.
To start, I just played through the story and tried to S Rank as many chapters and missions as I could. During the downtime between chapters I focused on finding all Dragon Stones in Ximdending, maxing out vendor familiarity and completing any LINK request I came across. After around Chapter 6 the Gacha machines become available, but not all of them. It was also important that I watered the tree after every mission because it requires a lot of water to bloom.
Once I had finished the story, I quickly went back through and found any Dragon Stones I missed while I got S Rank on all chapters in normal mode. Then I started the grind. I had to replay every single mission and chapter on hard mode which became extremely tedious even with D.Arms Duration Lv. 3 and Bahet handling crowd control. It was effortless but ultimately dull.
The game gives you exactly enough skill points to max out all character skills so once I had achieved the final S Rank on hard, I opened the Skill menu and just poured the points into Yumo’s final skills. I had already maxed out all the companions because they were pretty invaluable during combat (with the exception of Viada).
With nothing left to do the Platinum Trophy popped and my journey had reached it’s end.
Story on Normal & Side Missions
S Rank everything
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