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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker Review

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Over the past few years the 3DS has became a haven for JRPGs. From Pokémon to Bravely Default there hasn’t been a shortage of great JRPGs. One of the newest, at least in the UK, is devil survivor 2 Record Breaker, a remake of Devil survivor 2 for the original DS. It’s a spin off from the Shin Megami Tensei games although the other spin off from Shin Megami Tensei, the Persona games, is what you more likely to have heard about. The game is created by Atlus, which is known for localising many Japanese games and making series like Etrian odyssey games and Shin Megami Tensei.

Devil Survivor 2 is a grid based JRPG similar to the Fire Emblem games. Your character can only move a set number of spaces and you either attack the enemy, use a healing spell, stats increases or do absolutely nothing… Basically it’s chess only with demons. Well there is more to it then that. When you start a fight you enter a first person perspective where you can fight the demons. A single unit can have a max of 3 characters, including the main characters and the rest is filled up by demons you get throughout the game. From there it’s normal turn based combat where you can choose different magic attacks and physical attacks that can range from damage, to stat decreases or increases and healing. All attacking moves are put into groups. Physical attacks are in… the physical group and the rest of the moves can be from a group of elements (fire, ice, electricity, light, darkness etc). Demons have different weaknesses and immunities so choose carefully.

Usually there is only one turn in battle until you go back into the grid based system where you can move however if you exploit a demons weakness or you get a critical hit you can get an extra turn were you can attack again. Demons can do the same thing so be careful. Also if you use a move that a demon is immune to you can lose your extra turn and they will get it instead. You can also steal demon abilities by using skill cracking. You choose a skill to crack and set it to a character and they have to go defeat the demon to get the skill. Note, at the start of the game, the character you set the skill too is the only ones who can get the skill and if a different character kills the demon you will not get the skill. When not in battle you buy new demons at an auction or fuse demons you already have to make stronger ones. There are no items in the game so don’t expect much help. Overall the game is quite difficult if you don’t know what you are doing. However when not fighting you can talk to other characters and get to know them better. It’ll also help in the fights although I will go into that later.

There has been no new gameplay mechanics added from the original DS game or from Devil survivor 1. What has been added is an animated opening, voice acting for most of the game and a whole new story set after the main game. This new story doubles the playtime according to Atlus however I have not been able to get to that point so I will not be able to comment on anything from that part of the game. The voice acting is good though for the most part and there isn’t anyone who does a terrible or even bad job. The worst of the voice acting is merely okay.

What I can comment on is the main story. The game takes place in Japan and you are a student. The first character you meet, the main character’s best friend Daichi, shows you a site called Nicea or ‘the dead face delivery site.’ You sign up for the site and if one of your friends is about to die you will get a video showing their death. Generally, not that nice a website. You head to a train to go home and you get a video showing the train going off the rails and killing everyone waiting at the station including you. The video is no lie and a few seconds later the vary thing happens. Although just as you are about to die you get a message on your phone asking if you want to live. You say yes and survive the crash. You, Daichi and another character called Io Nitta wake up in the train station to see everyone dead and demons wandering about. The demons fight you but you win and the story goes on from there.

You will meet many characters from that point on that can join you if they survive. The game is time based outside of combat where you can talk to different characters or do optional fights. All events in the game tack up 30 minutes, even fights. The more you talk the characters the closer you will get with them and you get benefits for doing so such as being able to help that character with skill cracking to getting the ability to fuse stronger demons. Sometimes at pre determined points of the day you will get a death video showing a characters death and it is your job to prevent that. If you succeed the character will live and continue to help you. If you take too long… they will die.

In general the story is good and most of the characters are likeable with a few exceptions to that. It keeps you interested by dangling mysterious in front of you such as why is there demons and what is Nicea and who made it. There are multiple endings as well based on a choice on the 6th in game day. The characters all have different opinions on this choice so friends may become enemies…

The graphics aren’t a powerhouse. The locations look fine and there are a variety of them although most of them are city environments. All battles are still images of the demons you are fighting with the only effects being when you do attack, skills etc. When outside of fights it’s a menu where you select where you want to go and you’re there, nothing special about it. The conversations are done with portraits of the characters that change throughout a conversation. The art is well done and Suzuhito Yasuda who did the art for the anime series “Durarara!!” did all the designs of the characters.

My main problem with the game for me is during fights. At certain points in the game enemies will join the fight out of nowhere and can completely ruin your carefully laid out plan and make you have to restart. Yes you can start the fight over again with the knowledge that they will show up but it frustrating to start the whole fight over again because of something you couldn’t predict or have any prior knowledge of.

Overall the game is great. It has a good amount of challenge and a good story and characters despite a few of them being unlikeable. I do have a few problems with the missions spawning enemies without any warning but other then that I highly recommend the game to anyone who like JRPGs or strategy.

By Kieran Clements

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