The long-running Megami Tensei franchise has seen many incarnations, from the stylish detective adventures of Raidou Kuzunoha to the school-sim-slash-dungeon-crawlers action of the recent Persona games. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, the latest game in the stygian series, is, like many of its predecessors, an odd concoction of mechanisms from a variety of genres. But despite the seemingly disparate styles of gameplay it contains, Devil Survivor is a superb role-playing experience with a surprisingly mutable storyline that hardened veterans and series neophytes alike can enjoy.
6208153Battle is a combination of tactical RPG movement and first-person RPG combat.none
In the midst of a hot Tokyo summer, the city is plunged into chaos when a series of mysterious accidents force the government to lock everything down under quarantine. With the military preventing any entry or exit, the people trapped inside are left defenseless against the demonic forces that have begun to run rampant--all except for you. Armed with customized portable computers called COMPs received from your reclusive hacker cousin, you and your friends have gained the ability to summon demons of your own. But even with your newfound powers, escaping Tokyo and surviving what may be the end of the world are going to take time--time that you don't have much of.
You see, time in Devil Survivor is a harsh mistress that waits for no one. With utter catastrophe rumored to strike in seven days, you'll be investigating the various districts of Tokyo for possible escape routes all while trying to find ways to keep your life from being cut even shorter. Exploration is performed from a map screen menu, and you can easily chat up the locals, take a peek around, or ask your party members for input at almost any time. Though there are usually a number of potential areas to check out, story missions and battles are clearly labeled, which ensures you always know where to go next at the unfortunate cost of making every other area completely useless. It's important to prioritize your schedule, as each mission activated costs a half hour of your day, and some are available only within a certain window of opportunity. Devil Survivor does a good job of easing you into this system, but by the second day you'll have to make some hard decisions about which of the disparate storylines you want to follow. Not to go into too much detail to avoid spoilers, but your actions will not only affect which of the many endings are available to you, but a number of other powerful life and death moments along the way.
Battles play a huge part in Devil Survivor, and thanks to a unique hybrid combat system, they're both fun and highly strategic. In typical tactical role-playing-game fashion, your party of up to four characters--each supported by two summoned demons--alternately takes turns with your enemies at maneuvering around on an isometric grid. Once you're within range, you attack your foes in a first-person perspective a la Dragon Quest, where you input your actions through a menu and watch how they pan out. Demons are vulnerable to certain types of attacks depending on their type, and by exploiting these weaknesses or scoring a critical hit, you're able to follow up your initial assault with a second round.
When not actively engaging your foes, you can scout out their weaknesses to better plan your attacks, and if a battle goes south, healing spells can be cast and lost allies can be revived or replaced with benchwarmers on the fly. Though many of your battles will have the straightforward goal of eliminating all of your enemies, mission objectives have a surprising amount of variety. You'll also find yourself defending specific targets, preventing enemies from escaping, escorting civilians to safety, fighting bosses, and more. Mission lengths aren't too egregious for a portable experience, but if you do find yourself short on time, you can save mid-battle at nearly any time to continue later on.