Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor was like a dream come true for me. One of my most-loved game makers took my favorite genre (strategy role-playing) and fused it with the demon collecting fun and turn-based battles of other Shin Megami Tensei games to make what ended up being one of my favorite games of 2009. Now they're back with a sequel, Devil Survivor 2, and you'll run around Japan again trying to save the world (again) through the power of a demon summoning app on your cellphone. Yes, there's an app for that.
My face has been in my DS for the past week digging into Atlus' latest SRPG. If you don't have time to read a full preview, know that after about 7 hours of play I'm already liking this one more than its predecessor. If you do have time, hit the jump to hear about heroic teenagers, cellphone apps, and impossible boobs.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 (Nintendo DS)
Death and disaster is back for this second game. Something like an earthquake strikes Tokyo right about when a group of high school teens find a crazy video website called Nicaea. This online site lets its users watch movies that depict their friends' deaths. They quickly find that these "death clips" are more like predictions for the future, so they set out to prevent their deaths as well as the deaths of others, armed with the newfound ability to summon demons from an application on their cellphones. It turns out that the Tokyo earthquake was not the only disaster in Japan, and while investigating this the teens run into a strange government organization that seems to know all about the demons, phone apps and other disasters. The group reluctantly joins forces with this organization while trying to make sense of it all.
DS2 brings a new story and some small gameplay improvements to the original forumla. The battle system is almost exactly the same as that of Devil Survivor, so fans of that neat mix of strategy and turn-based action are going to eat this one up. You'll control four teams throughout the game, each consisting of one human and two summoned demons. As in the first game you're free to trade these demons out and participate in an auction to acquire new ones. You can also fuse demons to create new ones, and you're open to pick from your favorite abilities from the two for your new creation. Fans of deep customization and endless tinkering are going to be in heaven while hell goes on all around them.
There's a new focus on characters and relationships with the game's Fate system. As the story progresses, the main character and his friends, Io, Daichi and Joe, will have conversations that put you in the driver's seat, guiding their interactions. As you get to know your friends and others, you form this Fate with them, and from there your interactions can eventually open up different abilities and effects. This will remind Persona fans of the Social Link system, and much like in those games, creating strong relationships will benefit the player in the long run. This new system certainly makes dialogue time more interesting.
Devil Survivor 2 is a great looking game, even on the aging DS. I hope they redo this game with an Overclocked version for the 3DS, like they did with Devil Survivor, but as it stands now, it's still looks and sounds great, even on the small screens. The game's art style is attractive by any measure, but fans of ridiculous breasts will enjoy DS2's character design. One of the main characters, Io Nitta, has boobs that seem to defy gravity. As the game progresses and more characters are introduced, each female seems to up the ante. These girls and Atlus' character designer make no apologies about the chests in this game.
Look for our full review of Devil Survivor 2 next month, and get your DS charged up for its release on February 28.