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A substantial improvment on its precursors.

Ages ago, when dinosaurs walked the earth, I wrote a review for Legacies of Dondoran in which I lamented the fact that it had so much potential left unfulfilled. A few years later, however, Deadly Sin 2, a spiritual successor of sorts to LoD, came along to remedy many of the problems that plagued its predecessor. For the record, I helped test this game prior to its original release, and some changes were made at my recommendation.

This game places you in the role of Carrion, an imperial knight who lives in the shadow of his famous father. It is a time of political upheaval for the empire, and Carrion seeks to aid his friend, Prince Siegfried, in a struggle between the various factions vying for control of the empire. Carrion will have to face his countrymen, an undead army, and his own demons before finally realizing his destiny.

Like LoD, Deadly Sin makes use of a skill tree for each character, allowing you to grow your party’s abilities in whatever manner you choose. You may choose at any time to have your skill points refunded and reallocate them if you find you don’t like your current build, or if it simply isn’t an appropriate build for the challenges you face. Heading to a fire dungeon? You could put all your skills in water magic. Unlike LoD, however, where most characters had a huge number of options available to them, here each character generally only has a small number of skills to choose from. While this makes sense from a balance perspective, it feels lackluster compared to LoD’s massive skill tree which was a lot of fun to explore.

Maric, the dual sword-wielding magic knight prettyboy. He is the fastest character, he can fight, heal, and cast spells, but can’t get a date.

The game is arranged in a series of self-contained acts. Each act has a central plot for you to complete, and several side quests you can embark on beforehand to acquire gold, equipment, skill points, or other treasure to prepare yourself for the challenges ahead. You can press forward if you feel bold, or do a few errands first to prepare yourself. The game also features “augments” you can buy, which you can add to your gear to substantially increase its power. Along with the ability to reallocate your skills at any time, this gives you quite a few options for how to prepare for any given threat without the traditional grinding, and you can choose whatever suits your playstyle. Or of course, you can do everything, which makes breezing through the main quest pretty easy. There’s no kill like overkill.

Combat is pretty standard turn-based, although the mechanic of “Threat” is an important addition. The character with the highest threat will always get attacked, and characters gain threat by dealing damage. This means your powerful but fragile spellcaster, Ruby, will often find herself the target of your enemy’s ire unless you plan ahead! Learning to manage threat is an unobtrusive but interesting mechanic that makes the game a bit more fun, and mastering it lets you control the flow of battle. The battles themselves feature nicely animated art assets that give the game a unique visual style. Dungeons are pretty standard random encounter-filled mazes with the occasional puzzle, although in a nice addition each map of a dungeon has a “monster node” that allows you to turn encounters off, as well as awards the party a skill point. One thing I appreciate in harmonic’s dungeons is he is not stingy with treasure. You’ll often walk away with an armload of new loot in each one.

A fairly standard enemy formation, seconds before Ruby blasted them into oblivion.

The principle cast of the game includes Carrion, his nurturing girlfriend Teresa who has a few surprises of her own, snarky magician Maric, and imperial princess Ruby, who has two settings: blow stuff up, and blow stuff up more. Carrion is a pretty dour character, and while he is the subject of a somewhat awkward drug addiction subplot, he is generally a pretty serviceable JRPG hero who is struggling to attain his destiny. Maric and Ruby serve as sidekicks and comic relief characters, both are very amusing and entertaining compared to the more serious protagonist, and serve as a more light-hearted romantic “B couple” to the more mature leading pair. Teresa isn’t a terribly compelling character, which is a shame because her initial introduction had the potential to be interesting. The fact that Carrion’s bookish, librarian girlfriend actually turned out to be a hot warrior priestess is presented as something of a plot twist, but given that we see almost nothing of her more subdued identity first, we don’t have much context and the “twist” will likely go over most players’ heads. The story of how she and Carrion met is cute though.

However, most of the plot revolves around Siegfried, the imperial prince, who is struggling to hold his empire together. Many of the game’s story arcs begin with Siegfried providing a quest hook or impetus for some task, and Carrion’s party carrying it out. Most of the game’s other NPCs are fairly one-note, save a doddering bureaucrat and his beleaguered assistant, who generally steal whatever scene they’re involved with. The game has quite a few villains, who receive plenty of screen time, though most don’t have much more than generically evil political motives for characterization.

The characters are supplemented by excellent character art which is very colorful and expressive without being hyper-kawaii anime, making it a nice stylistic difference from most other games of the genre. The game’s mapping is competent; occasionally tiles are used in strange ways but in general the game’s various towns are a lot of fun to explore and generally look pretty cool. Deadly Sin 2 also features an original soundtrack by harmonic that is very high quality. Fans of LoD will likely recognize a few tracks that have been remixed or re-orchestrated as well.

I don’t usually mention details of a game’s ending in a review, but I wanted to bring it up here because this game has probably my favorite ending of any RPG Maker game. It is a playable sequence in which the player has the opportunity to talk with many of the people you have done quests for over the course of the game, finding out how they’re doing and what their future plans are. It was a very nice touch that brings a lot of closure to the game as well as that all-important warm fuzzy feeling. The game's "final battle" also really makes you feel like you're fighting along side the forces of the entire world, rather than your heroes fighting all alone. After twenty years of playing RPGs where my party had to march off to the villain's lair and save the world for everyone, it was nice to actually see the rest of the world pull its weight when it was time to fight the bad guy.

Overall, Deadly Sin 2 builds well on LoD and corrects nearly all of the flaws that its predecessor had. The result is a pretty high quality game with gorgeous art and music assets. It features a lot of customization options, which I always like, and great deal of optional content. It's a traditional RPG, and there's nothing particularly groundbreaking or innovative here, but there are a lot of little touches and additions that help it feel a little unique and improve on the weak points of the genre. I’d say this is an excellent example of a traditional RPG done right.