Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2, part of the Megami Tensei series developed by Atlus for the Nintendo DS, and the sequel to the 2009 NDS game Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. Originally released in Japan back in 2011, it didn’t reach Europe until a little over two years later; unfortunately for Devil Survivor 2, Nintendo’s new handheld, the 3DS, was already available and the original DS was on its last legs. Fast-forward another three years and we now see the release that Devil Survivor 2 deserves, an enhanced port for the 3DS, including fully voiced dialogue throughout, a new scenario and much more. Devil Survivor 2 has also recieved an anime adaptation which is available in the UK through MVM Entertainment.
There are two different stories to choose from when loading up the game, first, we have the original story from Devil Survivor 2, the Septentriones, and an all-new sequel to that story, known as Triangulum. The Septentriones scenario sees Japan hit by a mysterious catastrophe; with the very real absence of information or a rescue attempt those that survived are faced with a new threat – demons. Appearing out of nowhere, demons are attacking survivors but you and your friends appear to have gained the ability to form a contract with these demons, allowing you to fight back. The Triangulum scenario takes place after the events of Septentriones; having survived seven gruelling days and the beginning of a new world, our heroes are faced with familiar chaos as Japan is hit by a new disaster and a new threat of invaders known as the Triangulum.
Like the majority of Megami Tensei games, the story plays out in a visual novel style, with text-based dialogue and character portraits. DS2 Record Breaker, however, comes fully voiced which is rare for a 3DS title and much welcome addition. Fans of Persona, another Megami Tensei series, will find some familiar features here such as the emphasis of building relationships and the focus on time management. Time flows during the game with each mission taking a certain amount of time; not all choices can be explored during one play through and some choices will be more beneficial than others. This also adds a good deal of replay value as you’ll be able to experience different stories; ultimately you need to play certain missions to progress the story. The game also features a selection of different endings and the missions you choose to play will determine what ending you will receive at the end. Like Persona’s social links that place an emphasis on building relationships with your fellow characters, DS2 Record Breaker employs a system called Fate. The idea is very similar to social links; as you make choices and give certain replies, your affinity with a specific character will raise. As you level up each character’s Fate you will unlock new abilities and demons.
If you played Devil Survivor or the DS version of Devil Survivor 2, then the battle system will be familiar ground but it’s worth a mention that it’s a brilliant hybrid of classic mechanics. As a strategy RPG, you move characters around a grid-based map but instead of your character acting as a single unit in battle, you’re joined by two demons. Battles are then fought in a traditional turn-based format except for each unit only gets one turn. Extra-turns can be gained for striking an enemy’s weak point but be aware that enemies can also take advantage of this feature. Outside of battle, you can see what an enemy’s weak point is, so plan accordingly and be careful as more enemy demons can also join the fray.
Fortunately, there are ways to strengthen your team of demons, through the use of free battles; these battles to do not use up time like normal missions would and so you can repeatedly battle to practice, train, grind whatever you fancy. This works well with the Fusion feature which allows you, again like Persona, to fuse two different demons together to create a stronger demon. In combination with the Demon Auction which allows you to buy demons, you can really get ahead and also get lost in just buying, training and fusing.
Visually the game isn’t all that different from its original incarnation, obviously made to fit and look nice on the 3DS. With the majority of the game taking place on the bottom screen there isn’t a great use of 3D, although, personally, I don’t feel this is a great loss. The sequel, Triangulum scenario, has been made to the same standard as the original so nothing new visually there either.
Shoji Meguro helms the composition of Record Breaker bringing with him some new composition for the game. Shoji Meguro has worked at Atlus since 1995, primarily in the Megami Tensei series, is known for his iconic composition work for Persona 3 and Persona 4, and is currently working on the upcoming Persona 5. I have noticed that the sound effects during battles come out a lot louder than the music which is a shame. So if you want to enjoy the music during battle be prepared for some ear-splitting sound effects to follow.
Atlus says it's “two full-length RPGs in one package!” which should make this a must-buy for players of the original and newcomers alike. As a player of the original on the Nintendo DS, I decided to relive the event of the Septentriones scenario and I do not regret it, the story is brilliant and the battles are just a joy to play. If you haven’t experienced the first game, Devil Survivor/Devil Survivor Overclocked, and are worried about jumping in at DS2 don’t worry as the stories are completely separate. With essentially two full-length RPGs contained within this one release, you’re sure to get your money's worth.