I’m on the 25th floor of the Tower of Bogomil, Dungeon Travelers 2’s very definitely, totally, positively final dungeon, honest. There are just five floors to go until I reach the top and the final final boss, though I suspect I will probably have to go and fight at least one of the “Gods” that lurk at the bottom of the other postgame dungeons before it will let me in to get my teeth kicked in by the boss. Oh, there’s also a five-floor annex to the tower, because of course there is. Each floor of this is pretty small, from what I understand, though; they’re mostly about additional boss fights.
I checked the clock when I made my last save tonight: 208 hours. This is officially the longest I’ve ever spent on a completely single-player game. Final Fantasy XIV has it beat in terms of total playtime, of course, but being an evolving MMO, that’s a somewhat different situation. Previous holders of the personal playtime records for me included Persona 3 (somewhere around 90 hours), Persona 4 (likewise), several of the Hyperdimension Neptunia games (100+ hours each, albeit split across several playthroughs) and Xenoblade Chronicles X (well over 100 hours and I hadn’t even finished half of it — must go back sometime).
What’s kind of impressive about that playtime for Dungeon Travelers 2 is that it’s a single playthrough. I haven’t started again, I haven’t done a New Game Plus — this is the same save file I started months ago. And only now, after 208 hours, am I even vaguely near finished.
What’s also impressive about the playtime for Dungeon Travelers 2 is that the vast majority of it occurred after the main ending to the story. The “Otherworld Chapter”, as the postgame is called, unfolds largely without an ongoing narrative — it simply unlocks a series of challenging dungeons in sequence and tasks you with navigating your way through some increasingly perilous and head-scratchingly confusing locales with a mind to eventually opening up the aforementioned Tower of Bogomil and making your way to the top. Why? Just because. (Well, technically you think the final boss of the story, who managed to escape after you defeated her, might be lurking up there.)
This motivation for dungeon-crawling is one of the purest there is: the simple joy of exploration and discovery. And this is one thing that Dungeon Travelers 2 is absolutely exceptional at that. It may obviously be working within some tight budget constraints — there are a lot of palette-swapped enemies throughout the game, and each dungeon is based on a single tileset, which in the case of the Tower of Bogomil you see a whole lot — but the absolutely exemplary level design makes up for these limitations and then some.
What I found interesting is that Dungeon Travelers 2 keeps a lot of its tricks up its sleeve until the postgame. One of the latter story dungeons features some switch puzzles that involve opening either red or blue gates at once, never both, but the postgame also adds floors with conveyor belts, floors that are interconnected by ladders and pitfalls, floors that are full of teleporters on every step, one-way walls, secret passages and doors that demand you have a specific party makeup or class present in order to proceed.
Essentially, the main story of the game is getting you prepared for this pure exploration, combat and character-building experience in the postgame. You get a taste of what to expect in the future in the story; you get thrown in at the deep end once you’re past the “final” boss. And it’s hugely enjoyable, as my playtime will attest.
Five floors to go, then. I’m hoping I get it finished by the beginning of next month, because there’s a ton I’d like to write about this game over on MoeGamer, so watch over there for some in-depth thoughts.