|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Atlus||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jun. 23, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
The Shin Megami Tensei series has always been known for its dark and occult themes. Whether it is 1940s Tokyo or a modern-day high school, SMT has a flair for making everyday settings paranormal. The latest SMT title, Devil Survivor, follows this trend closely and takes place in modern-day Japan during the end of the world. Demon appearances, rolling blackouts, and predictions of doom and gloom have punctuated the landscape, and everything is looking fairly bleak at the start of the game.
The games story revolves around some young Japanese kids that are able to use the power of special COMPs that allow them to summon demons and fight the evil that is infecting Japan. However, the games story isnt as easy as kill the badguys and save the world. Unfortunately, one of the key elements in Devil Survivor is time. The main character has a special ability which allows him to see how much time someone has left to live, and youll have to make hard decisions about how to extend the time of those close to you.
Since the game takes place on a very rigid time system, youll only have a certain amount of hours to prevent catastrophic events from happening. Every action takes 30 minutes, and the game routinely gives you more to handle than you are capable of accomplishing within the time goal. Will you save an entire apartment building or those closest to you? Could you choose between your friends if you only had time to save one? The games storyline branches in some interesting ways, and when youre hard-pressed for time, the decisions you make will have a serious impact on the way the narrative evolves.
In addition to deciding who to save and when, the game also gives you narrative choices that help shape how other characters behave in relation to you. The text-system allows you to react to situations in a number of different ways, and based on what you say while in one of the games many dialogue scenes, other characters may respect or abhor you.
The story in SMT: Devil Survivor is reason enough to pick up this title. There are so many narrative possibilities that replay is a must, and the game challenges you to examine what is important to you in a game. Although other titles like Fable II and Mass Effect have put the fate of their respective worlds in your hands, Devil Survivor lets you know up front that the world is ending, and it is up to you to pick the survivors. Its pretty heavy stuff, but the story does an excellent job of keeping you immersed and thinking about your next move.
Although the story really is the hallmark of this title, it doesnt hurt that the battle system is quite good as well. True to SMT form, the game relies heavily on demons that you can summon to fight battles for you. The games battle system is a lot like the Devil Summoner series, with many of the demons from those titles making repeat appearances here. However, forming contracts with demons is not as difficult in Devil Survivor, and generally it just involves entering an auction and purchasing new demons.
Using the demons is very straightforward, and each demon will have its own set of attacks and special abilities. You can only summon two demons at a time, but you can keep plenty in your reserves, and the game lets you switch out your demons on the fly, which is helpful when you are fighting elemental-type enemies.