void* tRrLM2(); //Void Terrarium 2 Review (PS5)
Our sweet Toriko is in her terrible twos!
Publisher: NIS America Inc
After completing Void Terrarium and absolutely loving it so much it became a week long obsession, I just had to play its sequel. It may have taken me a couple years to get myself to finally play it, but at least this way I didn’t have to wait long for Void Terrarium 2 to make its way to us. Excited to see the improvements and added mechanics, especially after playing the demo that was actually localized, it’s time to jump right in.
Void Terrarium 2 takes place sometime after the events of the first game (around a year if we consider the demo as canon, which does make sense considering the circumstances). You continue to play as a robot named Robbie and you are thrown into a dungeon Robbie is in the middle of. You find out that this led to a particular area you’ll recognize from the end of the first game and Robbie was looking for a particular piece. As he makes it back to the Scrapyard, we learn that he has been taking care of Toriko (a cute little girl that is the last human) the best he could while finding a way to bring back factoryAI. Luckily, this piece was the last piece needed and factoryAI survived the end of the first game! Yay! Even Toriko is happy as she waves to factoryAI (and we all almost die of cuteness). Don’t get too comfortable though, as Toriko’s arm may have fallen off and you need to go about reconnecting it. There doesn’t seem to be a known illness causing it, but at least you can reattach them. Also, bad news, a weird glitch-like distortion ends up taking over the Scrapyard, making you three relocate to another Scrapyward that used to be a garden. Sadly, all your blueprints and items were lost (and of course you start at the beginning stats wise), but you can rebuild. There is a silver lining with everyone having a new change of scenery, Toriko not having to be in a giant flask, and factoryAI is hilariously upside down now.
There is another layer to this though, as the robots that cloudAI was in control of in the first game are strangely still roaming around. When you defeat them, your vision glitches to show you a pixelated vision with humans. Almost like you’re seeing recordings of what happened when humans were still alive. It turns out that this is basically what they are, snapshots of human wishes that cloudAI stored, and you even get a glimpse at Toriko. In hopes to find out Toriko’s past and what’s causing Toriko’s body to literally fall apart, factoryAI builds the VRRAT where she compiles these snapshots, and future ones you get, into a VR world you can go into and interact with. So not only will you be taking care of Toriko and go dungeon crawling, but also fulfilling the wishes of the humans in the VR world.
I quite liked the story in Void Terrarium 2. There’s actually more of an emphasis on the story, which comes mainly from what happens in the VRRAT, and it was interesting to get some backstory on Toriko. I also liked the mini storylines in the VRRAT as it brought on a lot of surprises. There is one aspect that I was a bit confused on due to a contradiction, but I guess you can chalk that up to your interference changing the various events that happen in the VRRAT.
I will say before we go onto the gameplay that there are two endings where you have to make a choice. I highly recommend saving the game. You can’t save in the middle of the cutscene, but there is an objective that is obviously a “once you complete this you’re in the end game” that you can save after completing it. You can also shut off the game so you can load it back up at the autosave and save it right before crafting the item.
Just like the first game, Void Terrarium 2 is split between you dungeon crawling and the (new) Scrapyard that serves as your hub. Starting with the dungeon crawling, it’s as simple and quick to get the hang of as you’d expect. You start at Level 1 every time you enter a dungeon with nothing but your stats. Movement is based on a grid and all enemies won’t take their move until you do. You’ll be exploring the layers, or floors as they’re renamed here, uncovering the map, picking up items, and finding the floor exit so you can go deeper. Items also have contamination levels, which brings about the interesting effect of an item’s effectiveness varying based on how contaminated it is. There are also hidden traps that you can step on and trigger (and this time around, there aren’t that many traps around to drive you crazy other than in monster rooms).
Of course, you will run into a lot of enemies which you can always hit first or try to move so you have a tactical advantage against groups. New enemies are joining the old to give returning players more variety and I have to say that I liked a lot of the new enemies. Some are annoying, like the tentacles that can teleport you (annoying in monster rooms) and the blobs that have a move that takes away Energy, but overall they add enough to be fresh while also not having too many to where you can remember how each enemy moves and attacks.
Anyway, there are various aspects that help you survive longer in dungeons. Each level up will let you pick a randomly selected passive skill from a pool of them, you can equip weapons and shields, and the majority of items you pick up are used to help you in combat. This is where some new additions and changes have been made. A lot of the skills that were in the first game were either reworked or taken out. This also means the overpowered setup you can discover, which makes me a bit sad. You can still kind of get overpowered, but not as much. When you level up, you get exclusively passive skills and they’ve been reworked to put more emphasis on using bombs and potions. As well as having more inventory, which I feel is aimed towards the skill that gives you a small bonus for having extra weapons and shields. Talking about weapons and shields, they have levels now. They level up the more you use them, giving you another aspect that builds up as you play, as it’ll unlock a space where a perk is added like more health or the classic advantage against certain enemy types. If you’ve been wondering where the active skills are, they are now tied to weapons and contamination gives you a chance at afflicting status effects. While this change was a bit weird at first, I ended up liking it. It really seems like the developers noticed that players went to passive skills over active skills, so they did this so you can still have active skills without sacrificing getting passive skills.
Another addition are mystery rooms. Each floor has a chance at having a mystery room exit and this in turn gives you a random mystery room. This can range from something good like rooms that gives you items, a chance at combining weapons, buying items and blueprints with a new currency you get by doing optional challenges, and getting a one floor blessing (which I wish was active longer than one floor). However, there is a chance to get a room with a boss like enemy (or multiple). Not to spoil what this enemy is, but this game has an “Icky Filter” and let me just say that this is the reason why it’s in the game. I…I don’t want to talk about how truly icky this enemy is.
An interesting aspect that’s different here is that the dungeons are also connected now. Dungeons are basically laid out in tiers and while dungeons on the same tier aren’t connected, they do connect with dungeons on the next tier. As you progress, more dungeons and connections between dungeons are discovered. You even get shortcuts unlocked so you can jump tiers, although you will still start at Level 1 (trust me, it’s not that scary). Not to mention there is a secret abandoned Casino that will pop up if you find a VIP key as well as a Candyland that randomly pops up. This also lets each dungeon have their bonus effects and its own weather, which is basically how many spores are raining down and can affect how contaminated items are in the dungeon and raises the chance of encountering more aggressive enemies.
Of course, we have the twist of taking are of Toriko through a Tomagotchi-like interface, but with a couple changes. You can still see her health, if she’s hungry or sick, how dirty her terrarium is, and how contaminated she is still. You can also clean her terrarium and play with her so her needs deplete slower. You can now also feed Toriko while out in dungeons, but Toriko’s hunger isn’t tied to her health anymore.
A strange consequence to the new changes though is that there seems to be less of an emphasis on taking care of Toriko. While I do agree with toning her neediness down, I felt it was toned down too much to where she barely factors in anymore. You get first craft bonuses early on that increases Toriko’s stomach and health to where you just need to look for how dirty her terrarium is and to play with her now and then. Sure she still can get sick, with various aspects making this chance higher or lower, but you don’t need to hurry back, food is barely needed past the beginning, and the beeps meant to alert you kinda lost its meaning (there were instances where I had no idea why it beeped at me). And talking about the illnesses, new illnesses have joined, with the new ones taking multiple days to cure which can be annoying. The new illnesses are interesting, but it can be annoying having Toriko get sick back to back and not being able to progress through the campaign for multiple in-game days.
To keep exploring, you do have to not only keep an eye on your health, but your Energy which slowly depletes as you explore and use skills/actions. If your Energy runs out, it will instead take away health until you replenish it with items like batteries. Once you eventually run out of health and die, or go back to the Scrapyard on your own accord, you won’t be able to take anything back other than food for Toriko. Everything else is recycled into four different resources. There are a lot of things you can do before heading back out into dungeons.
In the (new) Scrapyard there are a bunch of things you can do. You’ll be able to craft blueprints you find in dungeons as long as you have the needed resources and, if needed, materials. This ranges from items for Toriko or items for Robbie. Most blueprints will give you a first craft bonus that increase your base stats so while you always start at Level 1, you still have a sense of progression as you do still get stronger as you get more blueprints and craft more. There are also a couple bonuses that involve Toriko’s hunger and health and letting you remove skills from the skill pool.
You can also craft things your yourself, giving you more inventory space, more space in the food vault, and chips you can install on Robbie returning. Knacks let you alter the probability of certain skills to pop up based on the Knack’s theme; with Custom Parts coming in different varieties like giving you an extra skill draw when leveling up, a chance to pick up two skills, and lowering the chance of a skill rarity of popping up. These help you turn the RNG tides in your favor, so don’t forget to put these on. It is honestly even easier to forget here since you not only have Toriko to bond with more but the VRRAT.
There is also the VRRAT, the VR world built through the snapshots of human recordings. Going in will have you be in a space with a couple buildings that you can go into. You can talk to the humans here, but there are some with wishes that you can grant. Some wishes are required for the story, but a lot of them are optional. They mainly wish for you to craft items, which will give you more first craft bonuses, and reward you with blueprints.
And lastly, checking up on Toriko! This is the same from the first game, but also different (and I’m not just talking about the new nice, sleek design). Here you can feed food to replenish Toriko’s health. Luckily she’s not picky, but each food has an expiration countdown to keep an eye on. You can clean her terrarium, which this time you can see visible scruffs on the glass, decorate her terrarium with the decor you crafted, and pat Toriko’s head to make sure she feels loved. You can also watch Toriko walk around, interact with some decor, see her cute sleepy animation, and she even has interactions with Robbie where she wants to play a game, want you to pat her head (awww), and may even follow you and cry when you leave (awwwwww). Dressing Toriko up also returns, with some new additions, though she has more control on what she wears this time around (which is sad if you want her to be in her cute cosmetic items all the time).
There is a big addition in the form of plants. Since this new Scrapyard used to be a garden, you can grow various plants here. You can get seeds by crafting them with blueprints you can find, plant them, water them, and harvest once they grow to maturity. However, they do require a specific range in temperature and humidity. This brings along a mechanic where you can alter the temp/hum with machines or certain decor. The machines do take up electricity, which you gave a finit amount of, but they give out more of a change. The decor items in comparison have a smaller change and is only held back by how many you have and the item limit (which I never ran into). This does also have a consequence of not being able to decorate as you want though. Harvesting these plants will grant you plant decor (some which alter temp/hum), a material if it gives one, another seed so you don’t need to constantly craft new ones, and a rare chance at a decor blueprint.
As you progress through the story, you even get blueprints to make two more terrariums. You can decorate each terrarium differently (and coincidently there are three different decor themes that even change the background music) and have them at different humidity and temperature levels. While the plants didn’t have much of an impact as I expected, this lets you have plants with different temp/hum growing at the same time, but in different terrariums. Or dedicate one terrarium to just be for Toriko while the others are for growing plants.
I’m not sure if it’s because Void Terrarium 2 was easier or that it’s because I played the first game so I knew how to efficiently play, but I found this easier than the first game. Aside from the multi-day illnesses that brought me to a halt, I wasn’t hit with a roadblock like I was in the first game. Yeah, the RNG screwed me sometimes and the final dungeon and boss was hard (mainly because I got bad RNG), but I didn’t end up spiraling into despair. I know I complained about how hard the first game is, but it was a weird experience not hitting a difficulty spike. I even was bracing for a mid-game spike when there wasn’t one and I ended up being in the endgame instead.
While I’ve been talking about the new additions and changes all throughout, I do want to bring up some miscellaneous ones. Dungeons do have the usual layout and look, but there was more done to decorate each dungeon and to make them different from one another. You can now bring up the grid and you can even have a (more or less) free roam cursor to see what items are in the room (no specifics until you step on it) and the enemies in the room where you can see its level, health, and a quick link to it’s archive page. A battle log was implemented, but it still doesn’t tell you what the rats stole from you; which is disappointing since that was the main reason why I wanted one and it’s even harder to catch what they stole. I didn’t have room to mention this, but we also got a couple new weapons and active skills. And lastly, resources are way easier to get now, including the contaminated resource. I had more of the contam resources in my first 10 hours of this game than I did in the entirety of the first game.
To bring along some negatives, Void Terrarium 2 doesn’t have that many. Like I mentioned, I was a bit sad of my favorite skills being taken out. It doesn’t seem bio gels and leaky batteries have a drop chance until you grab the passive skill for it, items can land on a space with a trap, the log doesn’t tell you what the rats stole from you, and hints for objective are mainly useless now. Some hints do tell you what floor a material is on, but a lot don’t. It does seem like it’s on the last couple of layers in that dungeon most of the time, but I just couldn’t help but think “what if it’s in the middle of the dungeon this time”. I also did feel it was a bit rushed towards the end, we could have had one or two more objectives as downtime which could also let the optional VRRATs flow better along with the campaign.
After you complete the game, getting both the true and false ending, there are some things you can still do. You can get achievements you didn’t get, max level all weapons and shields, get all blueprints, and craft everything. The Endless Ruins make a return in the endgame where you can go in without worrying about Toriko’s health, grab blueprints from different dungeons here, and level up weapons/shields. There is also a Danger Zone which is basically a hard dungeon that increases in danger as you progress in it more. The Danger Zone unlocks fairly early, but even in the endgame it’s hard.
While I was a bit hesitant towards Void Terrarium 2, and I think I weirdly enjoy the first game over this one, I still ended up really liking Void Terrarium 2. Like the first game, I was thrown into a week long obsession and I just couldn’t stop until I got both endings. It is still has that addictive aspect of dungeon crawler, the cuteness that Toriko brings, and most of the new additions were welcomed ones. It’s a shame that taking care of Toriko isn’t emphasized as much as the first game, but we did get more emphasis on the story and learning about Toriko’s background.
I also did like the endings. They were both good ends to this duology, giving us a happy but melancholy end. This is especially true for the true ending, which I wasn’t expecting, but does make perfect sense considering the circumstances.
In terms of whether you can jump into Void Terrarium 2 without playing the first, I honestly don’t recommend it. You’re pretty much thrown into the thick of things here and it’s pretty much assumed you both know how to play already and that you know what happened in the first game. Sure, there isn’t that much to catch up on story-wise, you’re given a quick summary of what happened, and there are still tutorials on how to play, but you don’t get eased into it like you do in the first game. Not to mention you won’t be entering with a bond with Toriko.
While I definitely do recommend Void Terrarium 2, especially to those that love dungeon crawlers and want one with an interesting spin on it, I honestly don’t recommend playing this until you play the first Void Terrarium.