Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor – First Impressions
- Very impressed with the whole package so far. I’m five hours in, and the story is quite compelling. Takes very clear inspiration from manga like Death Note. The graphics are very anime-esque and the game is just self-ridiculing enough to avoid appearing too serious.
- The game has a team of youngsters fighting to survive in a Tokyo overtaken by demons. The Japanese Self-Defense Force quarantines the city, citing “poisonous gas” leaking from the subway. Meanwhile, numerous demons wreak havoc among the populace. Your party is among the handful of humans that can summon demons and use their powers using in-game DSi clones called COMPs. The COMPs basically serve as your “menu” throughout, showing you your team roster and demons. They also allow you to access the “Devil Auction” where you can get new demons, as well as the “Shadow Cathedral” where you can fuse demons to create new, more powerful ones. The fusion reminds me quite a bit of fusing creatures in the old Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, and the fusions make logical sense…most of the time.
- The battles are turn-based affairs with strategy and movement mixed in. It’s like a cross between The Last Remnant and Final Fantasy Tactics, if that makes sense. You move your team of one human and two demons across a battle grid over to an enemy team (usually 2-3 demons), select attack, and then choose each character’s attack. It makes for a fair deal of strategy, and the fights are just challenging enough that you seldom lose but never feel quite like you’re just grinding out fights. If you don’t use appropriate strategy and allow your characters to get flanked or closed in upon, you’re going to have a rough time of it. That said, the game does not reward fighting defensively; the aggressive party in an encounter is going to have a much greater chance of obtaining an “extra turn”, which I suppose is their way of preventing players from winning by “turtling.”
- While the battles and story are very well-done separately, they are also put together brilliantly. So far, every fight has felt interesting and unique, and the storyline and character interaction is pretty fleshed out for a DS game. It’s stuff like this that underscores both how well this game has been made, and just how short Chinatown Wars fell on trying to weave a good narrative with dialogue boxes in place of voices. It can be done, and CW just didn’t even bother to try.