Gaming Review: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor

So after finishing the spiritual sequel, I picked the first one up to remind myself where it came from. But I digress. The original Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor was released a few years back, and took almost all NDS owners by surprise with how dark and in-depth this RPG was, and it turned into what’s become known as a sleeper hit, with anyone who plays it loving it, but not enough playing having heard of it.

The story starts off rather basically, your typical group of friends turns up in Tokyo to re-unite with the main characters cousin at the end of summer break, but from there things go downhill rather rapidly…as the COMPs (a rather wittingly named Nintendo DS disguised as a personal computer) given to them from said cousin run a strange program and cause demons to manifest right in front of them.

From there, Tokyo gets locked down by the government and demons start roaming the street, and numbers appear above everyone’s head called a Death Clock. You have to feel slightly sorry for the poor people involved in this, but it soon becomes apparant that there’s a conspiracy behind everything, pulling the strings from the shadows…a conspiracy called religion. That’s right, anyone religious might want to stay away from this game, because it essentially says that god is evil and so forth. Throughout the game, the two main endings are actually pro-religion and anti-religion, which characters taking alternate paths down the middle.

Things are displayed on a simplified map, as you can see above, and character logos and events appear on the map. You simply select which you want to view and ignore those you don’t want to view, slowly whittling through the seven days that the game takes place over. The dialoge is well thought out and really interesting to read at times, and other times it manages to show an accurate snapshot of teenagers hearts and their fears and worries.

Obviously, being an RPG, battles are inevitable. Battles take place on the old fashioned method of a turn based grid, with any engagements doing into a 2D scene where you and your demons fight opposing demons. All the demons are drawn really well, and there’s a lot of depth in the system, much more depth than actually appears. It’s hard to create a perfect team, but you can often just spam Holy Dance/anything Holy to win towards the endgame if you can’t be bothered to think about your battling. Is turn based battling good or bad? Thats probably up to the user to decide, but it’s done really well here.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor uses dark themes, some rather interesting music tracks and wonderfully thought out mechanics to bring you a story about real-life demons in Tokyo, and religious corruption. It’s worth picking up for any DS owner, because it’s one of the best RPG’s on the console.

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