I have always been a fan of the Shin Megami Tensei series. Atlus has published some shining examples of the RPG series under the SMT label, including the first Devil Survivor. So, you can probably guess that I was really excited when I found out that a sequel would be reaching our shores. Is there something new to offer players this time around while still keeping the same feel of Devil Survivor?
You play as a young high school student living in urban Japan. He and his friend sign up for a mysterious website that is rumored to randomly send you emails with a video of someone’s future death. Soon thereafter, they receive an email showing a train crash involving them both. Minutes later, the exact same scene occurs, but instead of dying, they form a pact with some supernatural beings to spare their lives. Now, the entire city has gone into chaos with demons running rampant due to failed pacts with people. It’s up to you and your friends to hold off the demons and survive the incoming death emails.
Much like the first game, Devil Survivor 2 is a strategy RPG mixed with traditional turn-based RPG. During battles, you place characters on a grid map and move them into position. When running into enemies and attacking them, you go into a first person battle screen and choose abilities and actions from a menu. Each party member can have two demons equipped at a time. The middle character always serves as the leader in battles. If you defeat the leader, the entire party dies. This works for enemies, as well. Abilities can include elemental attacks, skills that remove extra turns, and more. By exploiting the enemies’ weaknesses, you not only do additional damage, but have a chance of gaining an extra turn in battle. After a confrontation is over, your party will gain a small amount of EXP based on defeated foes during that particular attack. After the entire battle is over, everyone left standing will gain a more robust amount of EXP and money.
When not in battles, you and your friends will be exploring the destroyed and panic-stricken streets. Every place you go costs you time, and 30 minutes will pass. Sometimes, you have to be at a certain place by a certain time, so using this precious resource wisely will prove useful. When going to certain spots, you will exchange dialog with your party members. Your responses may reward you with leveling up your relationship with friends, in turn offering up better stats for your party members.
There is also a special demon auction you can enter to gain better allies. You can bid with the money you have earned or buy the demon right then without having to outbid other people. There is also a fusion option that will allow you to combine demons make a new one that can, possibly, inherit the abilities of the “parents.” Some demons can only be obtained through fusion and management is almost a game in and of itself.
If you’re not ready to progress the story, or if you’re looking to level up your party members, you can always choose to participate in a Free Battle. Here, no time will pass and you can gain some extra money and EXP. Although, later on in the game you will begin to see that free battles don’t offer up much reward, and grinding will become a chore when hitting a story mission you just can’t beat.
That brings me to my biggest complaint about Devil Survivor 2. Much like in Devil Survivor 1, you will eventually hit a point in the game where a mission is too difficult to surmount. You either have to level up your party members and demons or create new demons through fusion. Unfortuantely, sometimes, that’s not even enough. So what ends up happening is you spend 30 minutes trying to complete a mission only to die, and have to start the whole process all over again. For a portable title, that doesn’t sit very well with me.
The visuals seem to have had an upgrade from the first game. There are a good amount of small anime cut scenes that really add to the story. The animations still look really nice, even on a DS screen. Much like every other MegaTen game, Devil Survivor 2’s soundtrack is very catchy and will have you humming the battle theme within a few hours.
Other than the all new story and characters, the game doesn’t change too much from Devil Survivor 1. Don’t get me wrong, the game is a very good RPG, but it would have been nice to see them expand the game play a little. Still, I can’t fault it too much. The first game was great, and this one is no exception.
The story is very well told, and the situations and story driven set pieces are actually more enjoyable than the first game. Another plus is you don’t have to know anything about the first game in order to understand and enjoy this game, but players of the original will be in very familiar territory when playing Devil Survivor 2.
All in all, I’d say Devil Survivor 2 is a really good RPG. The story is interesting, the combat is well executed and the concept is easy to understand and enjoy. I really wish the game would have branched out a bit more in gameplay and maybe toned down the difficulty a bit so I would have to level grind so much, but those are minor issues. If you still want some good RPG action on your DS, you really can’t go wrong with Devil Survivor 2.
Review copy provided by publisher.