I'm going to kick this off with three simple words: I. Love. Atlus.
Seriously, they are one of my favorite devs out there. Not everything they do turns out great, but they're usually always worth at least checking out if for no other reason than to see what crazy shit they have cooked up this time around.
Boy was I ever glad to have checked out this little batch of insanity back in '09.
So, what is this all about?
Well, Devil Survivor is the story of yourself and your two best friends getting caught in a military lock-down in Tokyo's Yamanote Circle after an explosion caused by a gas leak. At least, that's the official story. What actually happens is that someone created a Devil Summoning program, Demons are running loose in the city, and no one really knows what's happening. Oh, and one perk for those who have a device with the summoning program? You can see people's death clock, a nifty little device that shows a single digit number next to someone that represents how many days they have left to live. Yours and your friends' say 1. Most people in the lock-down have 7. That's not a good sign, right?
From that basic set-up, it's up to you to use your own demons to fight your fate, discover what the hell is really going on with the lock-down, maybe save some people along the way and, ultimately, survive. All in some strange hybrid of traditional Turn-Based Strategy games and the classic Shin Megami Tensei First-Person RPG battles.
What makes this so amazing?
A few things: The story starts off quite tame, but as the lock-down drags on, things get pretty dark, pretty fast. Every action you take on the world map, besides free battles, takes up 30 minutes of your day. There isn't enough time to do everything on a single play-through and, by the time you reach the 4th and 5th day, you realize the choices you made about how to spend your time really make a difference. Maybe you managed to save a kind nurse from dying at the hands of a vampire, but you failed to stop another friend from taking a path where he lost a fight against someone else, and died incinerated (on-screen!) from the other guy's demon. By the end of it all, your choices will determine which of 5 possible ending scenario is open to you and the payoff for most of them is nothing short of amazing.
Also, the gameplay and music are pretty good. The hybrid battle system has a few flaws, but serves the game pretty well. At the very least, I can safely say there is nothing else quite like it on the market, at the moment. The visuals, while simple, are clean and pleasant to look at and the demon designs are standard SMT fare, which is to say awesome. Also in standard Atlus fare, the localization is kickass.
So this game is perfect, then?
Hell no! For starters, if you have a tendency to throw your controller at a wall in rage because of difficulty, this may not be the game for you. The first few battles are easy enough, but unless you instantly master all of the complexities of the game, you are going to run into a wall. Oh, and those escort missions are a bitch and the game delights in throwing the most ridiculous kind of scenarios where even one single NPC death is a game over. Better learn to love those movement skills! Not that the game will tell you you need them. Oh, and you only get one save file, because Atlus gets off on your tears.
On the bright side, the 3DS re-release somewhat fixes these issues by having more than one save slot and adding an Easy difficulty (Not that you wont still fail here, you'll just fail less). It also adds voice-acting, which is hit or miss, and some of the gameplay streamlining Devil Survivor 2 introduced.
Bottom line, this is one of the most unique experiences I got to enjoy over the last few years. I would recommend it on the strength of the story and characters alone, but Strategy fans will also get an amazing game out of it, too. The original game may be a hard to track down nowadays, but Overclocked isn't. So do yourselves a favor and play this!
Man, I love this game, but seriously, FUCK THIS GAME!!!
Remember the complaints about difficulty I mentioned for Devil Survivor? Multiply it by ten. How appropriate that this game is set in a twisted, demonic monument to all of mankind's sins, because getting through this will be your personal hell. Don't believe me? Think you're tough shit? Play this for a while and come talk to me when Ouroboros breaks you in half like the pathetic little twig you are!
If you can get past the insane difficulty, you'll get to enjoy a fine example of pure, unadulterated dungeon crawling. This game has amazing level designs. You will not believe the kind of fucked up mazes Atlus has cooked up for you. Also, while not as crazy as other Atlus games, the story will still take you through a, well, a Strange Journey. Seriously, telling you more would be spoiling the fun. If you like dungeon crawlers and think you're tough enough, then suit up, and welcome to the crew of the Red Sprite!
That's all for today, peeps. Stay tuned, though! Number 7 is just around the corner.