Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor

Devil Survivor makes a few interesting departures from traditional Shin Megami Tensei titles

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Atlus Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
  • Atlus Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
  • Atlus Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor
  • Atlus Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor

Pros

  • Nice character designs, intriguing story

Cons

  • Underwhelming presentation, mundane battles

Bottom Line

An intriguing blend of role playing action and real time battles, Devil Survivor is a fun, if not quite groundbreaking installation to Shin Megami Tensei lore.

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Atlus' latest installation in its prestigious role-playing series takes the franchise's tried and true demon-summoning roots and introduces them to the Nintendo DS in this flawed, but fun-filled SRPG.

Counting Down

Devil Survivor makes a few interesting departures from traditional Shin Megami Tensei titles, such as implementing grid-based battles in the vein of strategy RPGs such as Vandal Hearts and Disgaea. The game's combat isn't incredibly deep, mostly focusing on summoning the demon best suited to fight by your side and exploiting your enemy's physical or elemental weakness via a turn-based interface. While some enemies will require intense thinking on your part regarding the best tactics to take them down, other battles feel a bit like a glorified game of rock-paper-scissors as each demon's strengths and weaknesses are on display from the get-go, leaving little room for strategy. After each battle, players can distribute experience points to their protagonist, upgrade various skills, and attain Mecca - currency of the underworld — which they can use to purchase new demons with later on.

From the player's main hub, they can visit different parts of Tokyo, access their COMPs (handheld communication devices) and engage in various actions in order to further the plot - assuming you have the time. Now, time plays quite a large role in Devil Survivor, as each character has a "Death Clock" floating above their head that only the main character can see. The mysterious clock displays how many days that person has left to live, and seeing as how you start the game with only one swirling number, it's up to you to use your newfound powers to try and lengthen your lifespan. Thankfully, you'll receive new e-mails on your COMP regularly, informing you of upcoming disasters. You stop these disasters from occurring; you buy yourself a bit more time. You fail, and, it's game over.

Bound in Blood

While I enjoyed what Devil Survivor had to offer, I never really felt too drawn into the game's world. Where the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona titles remain some of my favorite RPGs thanks to their interactivity and engaging plots, Devil Survivor really only lets you take the driver's seat when you're fighting. Aside from navigating menus and occasionally selecting different answers in conversations, there's not much to do other than wait for catastrophes to occur, intervene, fight demons, repeat. Still, aficionados of the Megami Tensei universe will undoubtedly get a kick out of the game's intriguing story and colorful cast while fans of turn-based combat might just find an addicting and innovative adventure — just don't expect an RPG that'll re-invent the wheel.

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