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Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 Review

Developer: Atlus Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: October 3, 2005 Also On: None

Digital Devil Saga 2 is the direct sequel from Devil Saga 1, which was released earlier this year. If you played the original, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try out Devil Saga 2–but newcomers to the series might want to stick to the original before diving into the second game, because the story and battle system aren’t the normal servings that role-playing gamers are used to.

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Serph and his Embryon crew return with their quest to reach Karma Temple and Nirvana. They have to go underground after leaving their home known as the Junkyard because the sun has begun emitting “bad data” that has petrified everything above the ground. To add to that, the evil entity known as the Karma Association threatens the lives of the survivors underground, and Serph and his comrades must stop the threat with their demonic powers.

The story is told in a very gloomy, apocalyptic environment so the mood is always low. The effect is pretty good and slows the flow of the story. Because of this, DDS players will be in the right spot while other gamers might feel that DDS2 moves too slowly and “feels” too depressing. The characters are difficult to grow an attachment with simply because they’re very dull in-cut scenes and don’t appear to have very much emotion to their surroundings. Their lines are pretty straightforward and the only emotion they ever show is when a normal character would reach some sort of extremity.

The gloomy environments of the underground aren’t the most exciting thing in the world, and it’s disappointing that some of the levels look so repetitive. Hallways and dead ends are common, especially within the first few hours of the game, and that’s not a very interesting start for DDS2. The Shin Megami Tensei art style is certainly interesting and it really isn’t used in the best way; instead of vivid and strange graphics and colors, there is a lot of brown and gray. It’s a real shame that such great art was underplayed and overall the graphics are pretty bland. The prettiest part of DDS2 is probably the box art.

At the very least, the battle system in DDS2 is great. I loved the fast pace of it, which is similar to DDS and Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. Returning from DDS is the Mantra Grid, which is best described as a mixture between Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid and a Chinese checkers board. On this Grid, abilities called Mantras can be chosen and once a party member is equipped with that Mantra, he or she will learn certain abilities and magic skills. To unlock new Mantras, current Mantras can be leveled up through battling enemies, so once a Mantra is “mastered”, new ones open up on the Grid.

It’s too bad that the battle system is so great in an RPG that isn’t really interesting to newcomers like myself. I would have been more immersed into the story if the environments weren’t so bland and I would have felt more attached to the characters if they weren’t so sunken and gray. I think that Atlus did a great job with the feeling and mood that they tried to set with Digital Devil Saga 2, but I don’t think this makes the game very accessible. If you’ve played the original, give the sequel a try; it’s worth figuring out the story. If not, try the original and then decide if the Digital Devil Saga series is worth your time.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 6.2
Written by Cliff Review Guide