PS2 REVIEW: SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI: DIGITAL DEVIL SAGA 2

Atlus' Digital Devil Saga 2 continues right where the previous game left off and that's definitely good news for fans of the series. Generally in the gaming world people don't usually decide to take up "RPGing" on a whim and purchase the sequel to an already existing series. That wouldn't be recommended in this case although Atlus does go to great lengths to explain what has taken place thus far in the epic if you haven't played the previous game (released about 6 months ago). If you are greatly interested in playing DDS2, I implore you to get your hands on the first game as it will only enhance your enjoyment of the DDS 2. Feel free to go back even farther to the Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne series as well - although be prepared for a far more intense challenge.

Here is some story background - Serph, leader of the Embryon, wanders aimlessly through the lifeless streets before him. In the Junkyard, his Tribe fought a gruesome war, hoping the light of Heaven would relieve their suffering. In the end, Serph's world vanished, along with the comrades who stood by him. All that awaited him in Nirvana were endless streets littered with the silent remains of human statues. The Promised Land was nothing but a new hell. Guards in white appear through clouds of dust, threatening to arrest Serph as an unauthorized Avatar Tuner. He notices the Karma Temple's insignia on their equipment as they throw it aside and transform into hideous demons. The water crown's power washes over Serph, and he realizes the Atma was not simply a nightmare of the Junkyard - nothing has changed but his surroundings. Devouring others is the only way to survive. What awaits Serph beyond Nirvana-a glorious paradise, or a sea of blood-soaked corpses?

Many SMT converts and fans love the series for it's bizarre sense of perspective and DDS2 is no different. While many RPGs feature an underground resistance fighting oppressive rulers, DDS2 takes that to extremes while managing to use the askew sense of reality as an inspiration for it's unique visual presentation. You haven't seen anything quite like the world in which this game takes place and I found almost every moment within it, entirely fascinating.

Even more than the wonderfully odd storyline, RPG purists have found a lot to admire about the games fresh take on Turn Based Combat which has been even more refined since Nocturne and the previous DDS game. While Turn Based Combat is a staple of the role playing genre, the efficiency and strategy has been tweaked to perfection, allowing for a far more immersive gameplay experience and completely eliminating the boredom of repeatedly hitting the same buttons over and over ad nauseum. But again, you'll either already love the mechanics Atlus has been perfecting throughout the series tenure or you'll be wishing for something far more traditional along the lines of the Final Fantasy series.

DDS2's ability system has been almost completey revamped over the last game which should immediately put a smile on the faces of gamers who weren't crazy about the slow, methodical approach to upgrading abilities. Atlus has made the ability system fun and grossly entertaining so that it's no longer a chore and adds a completely new dimension to the game. I can't wait to see how Atlus further refines this system in subsequent iterations of DDS2. Abilities for all characters appear on a grid system (think honeycomb) and locked abilities must be first have the sections surrounding it completed before the abilities will become yours to use. To do so, Atlus has used their imaginations and created numerous mini-games which you'll have a great time trying to best.

Artistically, DDS2 manages to be a different animal in terms of direction when compared to the fantasy-architecture and stylings of the previous game - which is strange considering this IS a continuation of the same story. That it manages to make sense once everything is considered is a testament to Atlus' abilities. Voice acting is once again top notch and the drama of the story allows for some great delivery on all counts.

I cannot say enough about the fascinating storyline which goes so far beyond "the save the princess" or "save the universe" style of cookie cutter RPG's. - DDS2 manages to create as many questions as it answers and it's one game that had me thinking about various plotpoints well after I had played them. Clearly if you've been with the SMT series for awhile you're going to enjoy this altogether new direction.

Atlus has been making some of the best RPGs now for the last few years, although the mainstream fanboys continue to spew off about Final Fantasy, which has been waning in recent years in terms of story and impact. Due to the rich history of the series, you can't help but feel like you're taking part in a fantastic epic that hasn't even begun to scratch the surface in terms of totality. That's why I love this series and that's why I love DDS2. Chances are, you will too.

System: PS2
Dev: Atlus
Pub: Atlus
Released: Oct 2005
Players: 1
Review by Daemia
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
5.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
5.0
VALUE
5.0