#365Games42: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor – DS

I’ve known about the SMT games since the 90’s but never really looked into them. They either weren’t localized or the term “heavy dungeon-crawler” was used and that just wasn’t the type of RPG I was in to. I abandoned those back in the NES days and preferred the open exploration found in the Square Enix games. I had just finished playing “The World Ends with You” and was told to check out SMT: Devil Survivor since the 2 games were verrrrrryyyyyyyy similar.

I checked out the trailer online, grabbed a copy and now I’m addicted to the entire Shin Megami Tensei series. This game is a tactical RPG, similar to Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics or any other tactics game except it’s set in modern-day Tokyo right after a series of demon attacks leads to a quarantine.

The story (from IGN) Tokyo is in full lockdown, the government’s swift, coldblooded response to a surprise demon invasion. Trapped within the sprawling metropolis is the city’s helpless populace, forced to turn on each other in order to survive. A mysterious piece of technology, the COMP, falls into the hands of you and your peers. This device allows you to form contracts, forcing demons to serve you in battle against the otherworldly creatures. There are others with COMPs, so-called demon tamers, who seek to use the demons to satisfy their own whims-be they for justice, peace, or power-in the chaos that was once downtown Tokyo. Where did the demons come from? Why did they appear? Who created the COMPs, and what is their purpose? These questions must soon be answered, for if you fail to solve the mystery, much more is at stake than your own lives.

Your COMP basically leads the way here, it’s a device modeled after the DS that receives emails of catastrophic events before they occur (you have to stop them), manage your team and summon demons. You are able to obtain new demons after you defeat them and you can also win new demons via the Demon Auction, a function within the game that lets you bid against imaginary individuals for a chance to win more powerful demons.

They’ve done a great job of easing you into the game as the many options and functions could be overwhelming if you were forced to pick them up right off the bat. The game is tough without being ridiculous and clearly defines paths and people you should be talking to. Nothing is more frustrating than playing an RPG only to find out you should have acquired something from some dude 8 days ago and you’re going to hit a brick wall in the next town. Lot’s of character customization and a great story and really, it’s the story that drives all of this.

The game is presented in a pixelicious isometric-view, the characters and demon “portraits” are well illustrated with a fair amount of detail placed in the background and location graphics to counter the cartoonish vibe of the sprites. The music is a nice mix of electronic/rock mixes. Nothing special but it fits the vibe of the game.

Back to the similarities to “The World Ends with You,” the humans within the quarantine have 7 days to live, you actually begin with less but are able to add additional days when you beat bad guys or keep a tragedy from occurring. The game is set in Tokyo and does have an internal social connection, letting you send emails to your teammates or people you befriend but doesn’t have the same level of complexity making it a slightly more enjoyable experience.

I won’t dig too far into the game since I want people to be able to experience it but if you have a DS or 3DS, buy or rent it. It’s worth it.