Traditionally, Shin Megami Tensei games are excellent turn based JRPGs. Each has a unique and interesting story with familiar demons to encounter.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker takes this foundation and layers strategic unit placement alla Final Fantasy Tactics on top. This meshing of genres produces one of the finest RPGs on the 3DS.
Technically, Devil Survivor 2 is a DS port, but expanding on the original game, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker features a new scenario ‘Triangulum’ set after the events of the main story, as well as additional difficulty options, improved controls, a new character, fully voiced English story dialogue, and over 100 hours of gameplay.
The basic plot of the game is that Tokyo has undergone some kind of disaster and demons are leaking into our world. You and a group of your friends play as demon tamers who are going to battle to save the city. The twist is that you all signed up for a death app, Nicaea, where the characters can see their friend’s death scenes. This is used as a frequent plot device to help save your friends from ‘death by demon’ by intervening with your own host of monsters. Like many a Shin Megami Tensei game before it, you can also fuse demons in order to strengthen your ranks and perfect your party lay out.
Battles in Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker start with you picking your teams for the upcoming conflict. Once this has been decided the area is split into a grid and you can move characters, use skills and engage enemies. Once you attack another character on the map the game switches from its strategic overview to a turn-based battle. This is where your characters specific team of monsters can really shine. Picking complementing and synergising squads will help you gain consistent wins.
Abilities inside combat are useful for depleting an opponent’s health bar, but the strategic map gives you access to abilities that: slow down enemy movement, recover health, guarantee damage when engaged in combat and loads of other useful abilities. By combining traditional turn-based RPG combat with turn-based strategy, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker surpasses the sum of it’s parts.
You, yes you, get to create your own character at the start of the game and will be faced with a multitude of choices throughout the story. These choices and all other cutscenes are full voiced and while the acting isn’t always amazing it is sufficient. The soundtrack, however, is great. The music fits perfectly with a post-apocalyptic Japan and the demons you are fighting.
Generally this game is wonderful. The combat is great, the story is engaging and the characters are interesting. However, like so many Japanese games it often ruins itself by behaving like everyone playing it is a sexist teenage boy. It puts women into 2 roles: those to be protected and those that are scary. The narrative that surrounds Daichi and Io, two of the game’s characters, range from Daichi commenting about Io’s body and Io being incredibly passive and thinking she can’t do anything and then killing an entire army of demons. I understand that the game is very anime and is aimed at teenage boys who many think that is all women are, but it is incredibly disappointing and these moments do nothing for the story.
Both newcomers and veterans alike will have a chance to learn more about the world of Devil Survivor 2, with the option of skipping to the new content right away or playing through the original game first. I think Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is an excellent example of how to blend genres and produce something of excellent quality and value. If you are looking for an excellent 3DS RPG then it will have you covered for hours and hours. However, I do wish it would grow up.
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