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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked Review

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On 11/22/2011 at 11:36 PM by Patrick Kijek

Demons have overtaken Japan. Let’s survive!

For a portable RPG on the 3DS, it’s a great option. It won’t show off your system’s graphics, but there’s enough gameplay to justify a purchase. Nevertheless, not enough has been added to warrant a purchase for those who have already played the DS title, except for the most hardcore fans.

A lockdown has bound Tokyo. No one knows who started the lockdown, and why the government is preventing any civilians from leaving the city. Shouldn’t everyone be able to flee, since angels and demons have begun to appear all around the city? Your party has no choice but to fight or die. If you can defeat them, you’ll make a contract with these powerful entities and enlist their aid in the fight for Tokyo. You will help eradicate Tokyo from the onslaught of evil...except if you’re some kind of monster who abuses their power when they choose their character's moral decisions. With the modified, portable “comps” you have inherited, you can summon your demons and stand a chance at survival.

The complex stories in Atlus’ turn-based RPG are worth the price of admission by themselves. The choices you make will decide which of the six endings you will receive, for better or for worse. Much of the plot and dialogue emphasizes the user’s power and responsibility. Your character’s actions run parallel to your own choices as a gamer. It’s no coincidence that the comp devices look exactly like the 3DS; the writers have also masterfully crafted an extended metaphor for the responsibility we have when we play games. Some people within the lockdown have done nothing, so they remain defenseless. When the demon tamers (“comp” users) have forgotten their responsibility and use their devices too much, they often lose sight of the point to their comps. Our hero’s party must save these people from others and from themselves.

The game mechanics used during this story’s progression are deep and absorbing. Over 150 different demons can be bought through auction, then summoned and fused. Most of the demons have a distinguishing aesthetic, the art team’s chief accomplishment. The player is allowed two demons per character in the hero’s party, so choose wisely. Each of these demons has three attack skills, three passive skills, and one auto skill. The skills are fully customizable except for some race-specific skills attached to special demons. Skills range from your basic elemental attacks to healing abilities, whereas passive abilities can fortify the character’s defense or add attack buffs.

To put those angels and demons to use, the developer packs Devil Survivor with innumerable battles throughout the many neighborhoods in Tokyo. After a series of emails that start each days your party will have to search various sections of the city to find whatever is on your agenda. There are plenty of people to talk to and many enemies will fill each of your days. Luckily, your time progresses as you win battles against your foes, and leveling up in free battles can be done as much as possible. From these battles you’ll gain macca to use on purchasing more angels and demons from auctions with other demon tamers. Depending on your chosen level of difficulty (an added easy mode is exclusive to Overclocked), you might have to grind a lot of macca for gaining the demons necessary to advance the story.

As the hero’s party gains strength, more branches to the plot begin to expand into an otherworldly war. As the plot thickens, members of the government, military, demons, and civilians all choose sides. Throughout Devil Survivor’s 40-50 hour initial campaign, alliances will be made with the acquaintances you meet. These choices matter so much that they alter who joins and stays on your team. The decisions you make will focus your path on one of six endings. Not bad for such a little cartridge; Atlus really knows how to use it.

While your character is shaped by your choices in the dialogue branch, there are usually only two options. Sometimes both of the options seem to effect whatever you are talking to in the same way. Even though the story has a large amount of text, a dialogue tree with more apparent options would have been nice. Your extraordinary job is to become Tokyo’s savior and eradicate the demons while becoming the king of Bel in the process. Do you side with the angels, demons, or humanity? Can you figure out a way to bring them all together? Not if the branching dialogue options have anything to say about it.

The underutilized dialogue tree is probably hampered by the ineffective use of Nintendo’s dual screens. About 80 percent of the game takes place on the lower screen, which leaves little room for response options. An easy solution to this would have been to use the top screen a lot more. The few times both screens are used in tandem, the art style shines. The opening cinematic will catch your attention (even if you find the hard rock musical style humorous). Occasionally after defeating a boss you’ll be rewarded with a flashing glimpse of beautiful art. Nevertheless, it only lasts for a moment. 

In addition, the label “Overclocked” doesn’t overclock any of the 3D in 3DS, except when fusing demons or during the opening cinematic. Although Atlus has added an epilogue in the form of an added day to the story, it would have been nice to use more of the additional features in the 3DS. Streetpass could've been implemented for meeting other heroes, gaining money for buying new demons, or learning new skills could have attached a real world element to an already solid RPG. Some animation for the demons would have been marvelous; more diversity in battle locations could’ve freshened up some of the grinding. And it would've been nice to be able to move characters or choose moves with the stylus.

The one saving grace might come in the form of voiceovers. Albeit annoying at times, some characters’ voices can provide one of the game’s main sources of humor.

Overall, you should experience Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked, especially if you’ve never dabbled in the series. You’ll remember its engrossing gameplay and inspiring story for years.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




11/23/2011 at 12:44 PM

So basically there is nothing new added that would make me buy a 3DS to play this game and I should just get the DS version? I've been interested in this game for a while and I've never gotten around to purchasing it.

Nick DiMola Director

11/23/2011 at 01:10 PM

That's right anon. I was interested in this one myself until I realized that I basically already own this game on the DS. There are some light differences, but nothing that warrants double dipping, at least from my point of view.

Patrick Kijek Contributing Writer

11/24/2011 at 04:27 AM

Yup, save yourselves for Devil Survivor 2. I'm not even interested in the epilogue. It's kind of tacked on.


12/01/2011 at 06:53 PM

nice to see that the DS version wasn't really rendered obsolete by this one's "bells and whistles".

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