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I had researched this game before but didn't pay much attention to it and definitely did not pick it up, but after starting it on a boring afternoon, have been hooked since, and now finally finished the game... I have to say it is one of the best games I've played!
~~~GAME BOX ART~~~
Like most Japanese anime style games, the characters are all very pretty with perfectly styled hair and sharp jaw lines, and feature on the front of the box, with a red tinge over it, giving it the "devil", "evil", "dark" and "menacing" colour effect. It definitely does not give the game away at all. From the cover, I would have no idea that monsters (ahem... demons) are involved!
This game is actually part of a long games franchise called "Shin Megami Tensei" which is also responsible for the Persona series, which I was close to getting on PS2, but didn't, and now probably will!
Anyway, you start the game reading some poetic introduction before entering your name and nickname (which they call you throughout the game, so pick wisely!) and then get thrusted into the beautifully drawn world of Tokyo, Japan... where you meet your two (best) friends Yuzu and Atsuro. You are handed your "comps" which look identical to your Nintendo DS and demons are summoned. Immediately, you are in battle and upon defeating the demons start your journey to discover the dark and sinister plot that this game slowly unveils.
So, now you have a comp and have experienced the demons, the basic plot is that you are trapped inside Tokyo with a Defence Squad barricading all exits... the backdrop for a battle between angels and demons, biblical reincarnations, a modern day "tower of Babel" and a whole lot of religious jargon. The themes in this game are based on themes and events from the Bible, which does make this a very intriguing concept and story.
Firstly, I'd just like to say that this game is text-heavy. Perhaps 40-50% of the game you will spend reading text. But this game offers an alternative experience with the text. Not only do they give you options in your response which will trigger interesting (and funny) outcomes, your choices from the beginning will alter game play. Choosing to visit or speak to certain characters will unlock events which will then lead to multiple endings.
I was unaware of this multiple ending business and by the time I found out, I had managed to let three characters die which meant I limited my ending choice as well as characters that could join my party and be made useful.
Apart from choosing responses to text, the other half of the game play is based on battling. This is turn based, and takes place on a "board" or "grid", where you manouvre your characters in order to attack demons, pick up "items" and so on. The battle system is pretty fun, and requires strategy as well as technique. Which character you place where, how many moves it can have, the attacks and weaknesses of monsters nearby...
In order to win such battles, you must level up your characters through experience... You can personalise stats for yourself, but not the other party members. Monsters are obtained through the devil auction (yes, you bid for demons), with more powerful demons being unlocked as you level up and gain points for every purchase... Even in a game, they reward you for shopping!
Demons can also level up and fuse with each other (much like Dragon Quest Monsters Joker) to form more powerful monsters, with fusion level cap being the same of your main character, so you can't fuse a level 60 monster if you are less than 60 in level- although you can buy monsters higher in level than your main character...
Interesting to note is that when monsters fuse, they say their "description", and some statements are just hilarious, such as Pixie's: "Are you trying to make me more sexy? You are such a pervert." Errr... No. That just made me laugh... which moves us nicely onto dialogue. I have found the dialogue interesting to read, and very intriguing, but mostly lighthearted and funny. Upon introducing myself to one of Yuzu's friends, Gin, an option came up for me to choose claiming to me Yuzu's boyfriend.
As a sucker for a game with good story, this was a no-brainer. I was stuck in instantly. When you first get given the "comp" and it has to reboot, I was quite scared, thinking my DS was the comp itself and some demon programme is now on it. Yes, I was totally absorbed, and playing it in the dark didn't help!
Overall, the storyline is deep and gets very complex and intricate, with the multiple endings drawing you in for a second go. I am currently on my second run, and upon completing the game the first time, it offers you the chance to keep your skills and monsters. Apart from that, the game is identical, and you'd just be playing it twice. There are atleast five different endings, so you could be playing this for a very long time! It look me atleast twenty hours on my first go.
~~~CONTROLS AND DIFFICULTY~~~
The controls consist of the buttons, and there is no need for the stylus at all. It is eas to control although sometimes I mix up my X and Y keys during fusion.
Game difficulty is rather shallow... although certain bosses provide chinks in the game. I have found days 1-3 pretty straightforward, and then it gradually increases in difficulty which I like. I only spent a couple hours on days 1-3, but on day 4, 5 and 6, it required an hour more more each, whilst day 7 took me atleast 5-6 hours... The last bosses were mental, as I took Amane's path.
Overall, given you collect the right monsters, set the right skills and use tactical skills, this game shouldn't be difficult at all.
The graphics are beautiful and colourful and lovely to view. I would perhaps like to have a few more movie sequences, but the monsters, bosses and attacks are nicely animated.
~~~MUSIC AND SOUND~~~
There are only a few games where the music is acceptable and this is it. I happily turn the sound on when playing, and it doesn't annoy one bit (most games does)... This aids in setting the mood and maintaining excitement with its upbeat jazz/rock-ish sound.
This is unavailable in the UK. You can get this imported and there is a site that sells this for under £10 which is well worth it! Just search Shin Megami Tensei: Soul Survivor DS on Google.
This game is a rare find, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest Monsters Joker or long, in depth and a game with a good story. Those who like Japanese animation games such as Phoenix Wright or The World Ends With You will also like this game.
I love the story in this game which is perhaps the best part, and the provision of multiple endings which develop through the choices I make are a great move to make this more dynamic and much more enjoyable (not just reading linear text). Plus it gives this game replay value that otherwise would be non-existent.
I would rate this as one of my favourite DS games of all time.
Danger roams the streets. Demons are appearing everywhere, and the populace in is panic. There's only seven days till the city is destroyed. And you, as a 17-year old schoolboy, have taken it upon yourself to sort things out. It must be a japanese role playing game...
Although not as well-known as the Final Fantasy series, the Megami Tensei games have been around for just as long: the original game was released as far back as 1987. Thankfully, those unwilling to go back and learn twenty years-worth of RPG history will be pleased to hear that, like the Final Fantasy games, each story in the series is self-contained.
That's pretty much the only thing this title has in common with Final Fantasy, though. Rather than re-using the same old tired fantasy tropes, Devil Survivor is set on the streets of contemporary Tokyo. A series of bizarre accidents have led to the city being sealed off from the rest of the world, leaving its citizens at the mercy of demons have suddenly popped up everywhere. You task, should you choose to accept it, is to escape the city, and you've only got seven days to do it.
This enforced time limit adds extra impetus to your quest, especially when you realise that certain dialogue choices and in-game decisions affect the way that the story progresses. While there are twelve playable characters, allying with one will often take the story down a path which will prevent you meeting another. Your choices in Devil Survivor aren't trivial; they often can be a matter of life or death. Unlike most RPGs, this is a game where your decisions really matter.
Seeing the whole thing, then, will require multiple playthroughs, but thankfully the quality of the character design, script and gameplay are more than enough to encourage this. The main focus of the game is a turn-based strategic battle mode. Players can take four characters into battle, and each character has their own party of up to two friendly demons. The fights take place on an isometic battlefield, upon which you can move and heal your characters. When you engage an enemy the screen switches to a first-person view showing the members of the enemy party, and it is from this screen that you launch attacks. Your goal is usually to destroy all enemies, the missions do have a surprising amount of variety; you might find yourself defending targets, escorting civilians to safety or battling bosses.
Navigation away from battle is performed using a map and menu system. Visiting locations will often trigger cutscenes which themselves lead into more combat missions, but you can also ask your party members for their opinions or just look around, chatting with the locals. Aside from this you can spend time customising your characters with new skills learned during battle, and these skills can be redistributed at any time, giving you a wealth of tactical options.
Adding to these options are your demon buddies. You can buy new demons using an auction system, and these infernal helpers level up alongside their masters. To really get the best out of them, though, you'll have to fuse them to make stronger demons, allowing you to pass skills from both of the original monsters onto their offspring. There's a handy guide to fusions, removing any guesswork from the equation, and optimizing your forces is surprisingly addictive.
My only personal quibble is with the music; Devil Survivor features horribly generic J-rock which emphasises the action well but can grate on the nerves. Otherwise the presentation is fantastic, which great anime characters and bright, detailed sprites.
Unlike many RPGs there's a dark tone to this game. Most of the characters you meet have numbers floating above their heads, counting down the time until they die. This is indicative of a game that's as atmospheric as it is stylish. Longtime fans will appreciate the steamlining of certain game elements, while newcomers will be able to experience the well-told story and an inventive and strategic battle system that help make this one of the best RPGs on the DS.