A Solid Bit of Demon Creation in the Palm of Your Hand
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is an updated version of Devil Survivor 2 originally released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2012. Record Breaker goes beyond being a remastered edition or director’s cut and provides a second campaign that promises to deliver 30 hours of additional gameplay. This time you follow up your ordeal with the Septentriones to take on the Triangulum.
If this is the first time you have played a Shin Megami Tensei game, there are some familiar tropes present. Most notably, the world has been invaded with demons that can be captured and used with the help of technology. In the Devil Survivor series, people in the world are able to summon demons through their cellphones with the help of an app.
You start off Record Breaker as the protagonist and quickly join up with your school mates Io and Daichi. After some teenage squeals at the prospect of going to see a prominent J-Pop band, you head to the city center for a concert. That’s when the events from the past seem to start happening. From this point you’ll start to seek out a paramilitary organization dressed in yellow known as the JP (pronounced gyps) that you have previously worked with and who specialize in stopping invading demon forces.
Regardless of whether you have played the original DeSu2 you can skip over the Septentriones arc that took place in the original game and receive a brief synopsis about what took place. This synopsis does a good job bringing you up to speed and from this point you can immediately start on the new Triangulum storyline.
DeSu2 is a tactical RPG with turn-based combat that takes place on isometric battlefields delineated by a square grid. As you progress through the game you will be able to capture and buy demons. Different types of demons have their own unique skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Some demons will posses strong ice based skills but will be weak to fire. Others might be strong against physical damage but weak to most magical attacks. These strengths and weaknesses can make for interesting and difficult match ups as you move through the game. You will need to grow a large stable of demons as you advance that provide you a wealth of options to draw from.
Human characters do not start the game off with skills. They must learn them and that doesn’t happen through leveling up. They do this through Skill Cracking. At the beginning of a battle you will be able to select a party leader and a list of available skills that can be learned will pop up. You can then select a skill and it will tell you what demon on the battlefield you will have to defeat to learn that skill. Each party can only select one skill to crack per battle.
Once a Skill Crack is chosen, only the party making the selection can learn the skill by defeating the demon. Everyone in the party will learn the skill, however, so if you split them up and place them in different groups later they will all maintain it.
One of the quickest ways to gather new demons for your cause is through the auction house. There are two different types of auctions. One is the standard auction and the second is the special auction. Special auctions are rare but allow you to purchase powerful demons, or some that are bargain priced. Because they are demons and not the friendliest sort, demons may still extort you for additional money. Apparently if you give in and pay their extorted fee they could theoretically give you an additional item, but that never happened for me.
There is also another way to acquire demons besides capturing and buying them. You can create them. This is done through fusion at the Cathedral of Shadows which is accessible through the game options UI. You will fuse demons and place abilities from the parent demon into the new demon. This will allow you to create some of the most powerful hybrid demons in the game. You can also bolt on even more skills at the time of creation with items called addons.
Fans of both tactical RPGs and anime will find something to enjoy here. The characters are well drawn, if not overly endowed for school age, and the voice acting is a nice touch. I particularly liked the allegory of being able to summon demons through your mobile device and the dangers of technology. The UI is nicely done and captures the feel of an early smartphone as if it was on your 3DS.
- GAMEPLAY: 8 – Tactical RPG that involves buying and fusing demons. The story plays out like a well known anime.
- VISUALS AND SOUND: 7 – A few well drawn characters, albeit some border on the lewd, with decent voice acting. Atmospheric isometric battlefield maps are well done. Characters on the tactical map don’t really stand out as special.
- POLISH: 8 – On version 1.1 the game played bug free. The voice acting was far superior than other recent Japanese handheld remakes (FF Class Zero).
- LONGEVITY: 7 – You can play through the original and then have another 30 hours with the new Triangulum story.
- VALUE: 7 – $49.99 for a remake? Sure there are some new features but it’s still a remake. This one is a little on the pricey side.