The First Few Hours – Shin Megami Tensei 4

There would have been a time, not long ago, when I would have been excited about a new Shin Megami game, let alone an entry in the main series.  The DS entries, and to a lesser extent Persona 4, have sapped this excitement from me.  But here I am, giving it another shot, because Nocturne and Persona 3 remain some of the best experiences I ever had on the PS2 (not to mention the earlier Persona’s)

First Thoughts, First Impressions:  The low key neon which somehow helped to emphasize the overall darkness from the early PS2 era Shine Megami titles appears to be completely gone (this started with Persona 3, but is complete now). It’s replaced with 80s camp anime, bright sunlight, and a throw back to early persona games in character portraits. Even the quirky and endearing personalities from persona 3 (and to a lesser extent 4) are missing.  Although I will say that the actual dungeon crawling looks amazing and works well.

So how does it play?  I’m not sure why, but there is something about the game.  Despite what I expected, I was actually very excited to continue playing it yesterday. It’s the beginning though.  I put quite a few hours in Strange Journey, but never ended up finishing it, because at a certain point in time you have to choose a very distinct ending.  Once you get there, it’s all out of surprises.  So I assume I know how 4 will end:  3 bland choices, evil, neutral and good. Although Nocturne avoided this convention, so it could always surprise me.
Nocturne neon
Nocturne neon
Digital Devil Saga neon
Digital Devil Saga neon
and 4's...
and 4…

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 – It’s No Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (aka, The Longest Review Title Ever)

Title:  Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2
Company: Atlus
System: DS
Cost: $29

Yeah… High School Sucks

You know why I liked Nocturne?  Because it didn’t make me cringe.  It’s certainly a flawed game (the possibility of getting killed in a random preemptive enemy attack after 30 minutes of progress coming to mind).  But the darkness of the game felt very real.  The true demon ending being the darkest surprise I’ve ever had in a video game.  Persona 4 on the other hand, had me groaning all over the place.  But despite being embarrassing, Persona 4 is still a good game.

Devil Summoner 2 feels infinetely more like Persona 4 than Nocturne.  It stars a group of (mostly) Japanese high school students in a demon infested Japan.  You need to make “social links” with your friends to improve battle effectiveness.  The only real difference is that Survivor 2, well isn’t that interesting.  As a strategy game it’s weak, and the few strong ideas (demon auctions, designating learnable techniques at the beginning of battle) are overshadowed.  It’s another grind, just this time with a weak story and transparent characters.  It still has the benefits of the Shin Megami universe though, and the adult (or perhaps teen is more appropriate) pokemon characteristics can entertain for awhile.

Review: 2 Stars

Memory:  Creepster scene where the high-school girls compare breast sizes (in text).  This is the kind of shit that can be cut from a US release.