Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker not only puts itself in the running for longest game title of the year, but is also potentially already familiar to RPG fans. A remaster of the original Devil Survivor 2 that first appeared on Nintendo’s all-conquering DS back in 2011, it’s taken a further ten months for this new 3DS version to reach us from Japan. The question of course is whether it’s been worth the wait, to which the unequivocal answer is yes, whether you’re a newcomer or a returning fan.
The game begins with two journeys ahead of you, the first being the original game’s seven day ordeal where humanity is threatened by the dreadful Septentriones, while the second is a new journey set directly after that follows the battle against the Triangulum. Thankfully returning players can jump straight into this new content rather than having to retread the original game which is refreshing.
You’re also given the new option of the Blessed or Apocalypse difficulty settings, with little surprise as to which is the harder of the two. This should be a welcome addition to anyone that bailed out of the original game because of its high difficulty, or perhaps if you want to quickly run through the first section as a refresher.
Your friend Daichi talks you into signing up to the Nicaea website, which in familiar horror movie-esque lore seemingly provides you with a video that shows the deaths of all the important people in your life. While it sounds like a joke, it soon proves to be frighteningly real. On top of seeing the deaths of those around you predicted on your mobile phone, demons then appear to finish the job.
For those unfamiliar with the Shin Megami Tensei series, the theme of capturing demons and then using them to fight in a Pokemon-esque fashion runs deep. While defeating them in combat at the outset can see them join your team you mainly buy demons at the auction house before then taking to the task of levelling them up. With plenty of variation, and the ability to take two demons into combat with you, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into.
Combat is turn-based, and during each encounter combat appears in first person, while movement is shown on an isometric grid. Anyone that’s played a tactical RPG such as Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together should be right at home, utilising your positioning to whittle down your foes. Besides the standard functions of combat you also have to consider the elemental weaknesses of your adversaries in order to win yourself extra turns, use the correct buffs, or attempt to crack enemy abilities.
Taking this into consideration while having a team of four, each of whom have two demons in tow, means there’s a ton of depth to be found here. While it can be overwhelming at first once you settle into the flow it’s a wonderfully engaging and rewarding system.
Devil Survivor 2 clearly shows its roots as a DS title, and despite some visual upgrades it remains somewhat underwhelming. It’s not the ugliest game to grace the 3DS, it’s just somewhat lacking, particularly when stacked up against titles such as the New 3DS’ Xenoblade. Still, it performs the functions required of it, and when the gameplay is so strong it’s definitely not such a big deal.
Much of the plot is brought to you via talking heads, interspersed with the odd anime cutscene, and, in an impressive feat for a 3DS title, the character conversations are actually fully voiced. It certainly helps to make them all feel like real people, and are of a good quality throughout. The static artwork for each character is also generally of a very high quality too, which is handy as you’ll be looking at it a lot, though some of the female proportioning is a bit…off.
Io, the first female character you come across has breasts that somehow seem to hang in mid-air, and it’s a recurring problem with other female cast members. It’s a shame when the story-telling is of such a high standard that this actually diminishes and distracts somewhat from the proceedings. Meanwhile the standard character models you see during the isometric encounters are functional enough, though they are certainly showing their age in comparison with some other elements.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is a fantastic handheld RPG with a deep combat system, characters that you care about, and a well-delivered story. Returning fans will also find plenty to enjoy here too, whether it’s the new difficulty settings, voice-acting, or the fresh story arc. As such, Devil Survivor 2 takes its place amongst the best the Nintendo 3DS has to offer.