Developer – Atlus
Publisher – Atlus
Platform – Nintendo DS
Devil Survivor was one of my favorite RPGs of the past five years. It blended turn-based strategy with traditional JRPG battle schemes in a way that didn’t make it feel slow. It was also considerate in it’s method for tackling player choice. While it was somewhat grounded in two choices (obviously good and obviously evil), it did feature some other options, such as running away from the chaos (which would never solve the problem).
Once again we’re introduced to the same mechanics, except on a larger scale. Players will find themselves utilizing 4 demon summoners. Each one will have 2 demons to accompany them. It’s up to the player as to how they want to build these teams. Some people might have one squad focus on healing, with another focusing on physical damage. Other times there might be a spread focus, where there’s a healer, magic damage, and physical damage character on each team. It’s really all up to you and your play style.
The game is larger in scale than the first Devil Survivor in terms of the number of levels and accessible moves. Devil Survivor took place only in Tokyo, whereas Devil Survivor 2 takes place in multiple cities throughout Japan. We get a mix of older stages as well as new ones and new abilities to make each of your characters even more finely tuned in whichever role you choose for them.
Outside of the wonderful game mechanics, we have a stirring narrative with some quirky, albeit stereotypical characters. The cast is about 3 or 4 characters larger than the first Devil Survivor, creating more schemes for the oft-employed player choice system, and it works much better. No longer is there some sort of cookie-cutter take on morals where the main character can only choose between good an evil. The choices at stake seem to be one of order, one of equality, and a middle one shaped by you as a player. Even when it seems as if one choice is blatantly the “good” one, the game throws you for a loop, adding some complexity to the story at hand.
That’s only the over-arcing narrative. Atlus JRPGs have a penchant for exploring the inner workings of an individual. This game is no different. They’ve carried over the friend ranking system found in the Persona games, titling it the “Fate system.” Instead of going to 10, this scales up to 5, an adjustment made due to the sheer variety of characters in the game. Each one has a unique storyline, some more interesting than others, but all worth looking into despite some of them being a little bland.
With the end of the DS era practically here, I think it’s safe to say it ended on a high note. I don’t think it will be the last great game for the DS, but maybe the last great DS RPG. It followed the likes of other wonderful games before it (Radiant Historia or Mario & Luigi: Bowsers Inside Story come to mind), putting the finishing touch on a strong line up. Pick this game up if you have a DS. Hell, pick this game up if you have a 3DS. It could very well mark the start of the JRPG comeback year.