Just two years ago, the original Devil Survivor spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei series arrived on the DS to provide gamers with a JRPG that combined both tactics gameplay and traditional turn based combat. This mix made for an interesting old-school mechanic that felt fresh due to the pairing of the two forms of gameplay with a touch of Pokémon/monster hunting to give it a true JRPG level of customization. And, though I myself am a huge fan of extreme customization, I must admit that I missed out on the original iteration of this game.
Good news for me and other JRPG enthusiasts, Atlus decided to create a premier version of the game on the 3DS that not only includes a full makeover but also has further gameplay not included in the original version on the DS. Seeing as Devil Survivor 2 is out in Japan and scheduled to be released next year, it seems like a smart move to release a definitive version of the game to allow other gamers to experience the series for the first time (like Nintendo does with every iteration of Pokémon). But does the 3DS version have enough bells and whistles to warrant a purchase or should you look for the original DS version in a bargain bin to get your JRPG fix?
Devil Survivor follows the actions of a group of kids trying to survive due to a disturbing chain of events; a lockdown of Tokyo and non-trustworthy government are only small problems compared to the outbreak of demons plaguing the city. Armed with COMPs (computerized companions that can do a number of functions such as summoning, auctioning, and fusing demons) and a Laplace program that can predict the future, the heroes must change the course of fate by attempting to survive.
In terms of gameplay, Devil Survivor does a great job of introducing new concepts slowly to allow you to ease into its complexities. From the beginning, players are introduced to basic combat mechanics, demonstrating elements from tactics RPGs (players take turns moving around the environment and can perform a number of actions including skills, spells, and attacks), as well as traditional turn based elements (once an attack is performed, the battle is played out in a 3-on-3 Dragon Quest style of combat). Though complexities such as gaining extra turns in combat for exploiting rock-paper-scissors type weaknesses (very similar to super effective attacks in Pokémon) are a bit difficult to describe in words, they are easily picked up through the smart pacing of the game.
As the game progresses, more concepts are introduced to the gamer such as the ability to form 3 character teams for each of your leaders in combat (the characters that move around the battlefield) as well as the ability to bid at auctions for different types of demons and also fuse them to create newer, stronger demons. The game most certainly lives up to its name as a JRPG by providing a massive amount of customization (I found myself reverting back into my obsessive addiction of endlessly customizing and improving my team even if my characters could fly through the many battles presented to me).
Traversing through the story is another interesting portion of gameplay that forgoes world maps and the like from traditional RPGs and reverts back to text-based progression. Thus, to move to an area, you simply choose the name of the area on the world map and then a sequence of dialogue is prompted between your characters or a battle starts. There is no running around or exploring so essentially the game revolves around character dialogue and battle sequences.
The one limitation is the time clock, which adds 30 minutes each time you attend a necessary event or a side quest (though the game doesn’t seem to let you screw up and miss an important event). You can also choose to battle in an optional battle at almost any time during the game. This will allow you strengthen your team if an upcoming battle is too difficult or give you the option of spending countless hours improving your team for the sake of being a badass (such as myself).
Devil Survivor Overclocked is an interesting conundrum. The game is definitely a better version than the original with more features and a much brighter, crisper level of visuals. However, there seem to be an equal number of improvements as there are things that were glaringly left unchanged. For instance, Atlus seems to have spent a good deal of time adding voice acting to the entirety of the game’s lengthy story. However, the music sounds muffled and almost sounds cheap through this iteration (don’t get me wrong, I like the composition of many of the songs but the instrumentation was not renovated for the 3DS’s better hardware).
Next, the game’s visuals are more enjoyable to look at than that of the DS version due to the higher resolution screen available on the 3DS. However, the fact that the 3DS is backwards compatible with DS games makes it difficult to warrant purchasing a game that costs $10 more that only includes 3D in the title sequence, monster fusion and a small amount of cut scenes.
Don’t misunderstand my complaint: I’m not at all opposed to non-3D games on the 3DS (in fact I would cherish the release of them); I’m just saying that DS games, which can be played on the 3DS, need 3DS specific remakes to have the proper amount of improvements to warrant a more expensive purchase (though if this were released at the same price, it would be a no-brainer). Sure 3D is one thing, but there isn’t any inclusion of StreetPass functionality, which could have made for a nice addition to the level of team building complexity. Thus, to make a complicated statement short and sweet, the DS version is still a great buy and might want to be considered over this one if you don’t mind slightly less crisp visuals and the lack of voice acting.