Much as it did back in 2012, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 will be sliding in under the radar later this year, this time on the Nintendo 3DS. Its low production values are apt to result it in being ignored by all but the most hardcore RPG fans, but that would be an injustice. Devil Survivor 2 is secretly one of the best Shin Megami Tensei games around.
Here are some of the relevant facts:
More on That Battle System
I briefly discussed Devil Survivor's battle system above, but it's worth going into more detail on it because, as turn-based RPGs go, it's really good.
The general thrust of Devil Survivor 2's combat is that you get a very brief period of time to do as much damage as possible. Like any good game, Devil Survivor 2 presents the opportunity to make a variety of interesting decisions. One of the most basic is whether to immediately target the leader and potentially wipe out the entire enemy party immediately, or to knock out the support monsters to earn more experience, keeping in mind that resources like MP are relatively limited.
Often, it's not possible to defeat enemies with one attack, so efforts must be undertaken to extend the battle as much as possible. That means, for example, striking at a monster's elemental weak spot or earning critical hit, thus pushing the battle to an extra round. Extending the combat is often crucial, since it potentially denies an enemy an extra chance to attack, which makes a big difference in a game as unforgiving as Devil Survivor 2.
From a stylistic standpoint, Devil Survivor 2's combat also feel more dynamic than other strategy RPGs, affording the opportunity for more interesting-looking attacks and somewhat deeper strategy. I don't mean to disparage Final Fantasy Tactics, but I do find Devil Survivor's battles more interesting than simply walking up behind a foe and whacking them with a sword. And with minimal loading times and extremely quick attacks, Devil Survivor 2 manages to come off as fast-paced, giving it the best of both worlds.
What Record Breaker Brings to the Table
In addition to the original, rather robust, campaign found in the original, Devil Survivor 2 adds a lengthy follow-up called The Triangulum Arc. Accessible from the start, it picks up near the Tokyo Skytree, where only the main character can recall the events of the original seven days. Hence the confusion of his companions when strange events begin happening and the main character seems to know exactly what's going on. You'd be a little weirded out too if black helicopters appeared in the sky and your friend said, "Oh, those belong to a secret organization working to prevent the end of the world.
There's also voice acting now, which puts it in line with Devil Survivor Overclocked, as well as the rest of the franchise. Atlus' voice work is generally well-regarded around the industry, and I don't expect that to change with Devil Survivor 2. I don't know that it'll make a huge difference, not the least because I tend to play with the sound (and thus the voices) turned off while I listen to other music or podcasts, but it does lend some personality to the characters as well as to the story as a whole.
The Devil Survivor games have their own cult following, but like many other games not named Persona in the franchise, it's not especially well-known outside of the Shin Megami Tensei fandom. Being the hardcore strategy RPG that it is, I don't expect that to change. But there's a lot of merit to the series, and I'm glad to see that it's getting a second chance at an audience.
With Persona 5 getting so much hype, I've seen more than a few fans expressing concern that the Shin Megami Tensei franchise as a whole might be dead. Hopefully, this impending update—which contains such a large amount of new story content as to be considered a pseudo-sequel—will put those fears to rest somewhat. And if it doesn't, then the best way to sway Atlus is to go and vote with your wallet. Even if you don't like strategy RPGs, I think Devil Survivor 2 is worth it.