The original was one of the sleeper hits of 2009, endearing itself to many players thanks to its brilliant blend of story, in-depth strategy, and fun collection elements. Though the original Devil Survivor saw a rerelease on the 3DS, the sequel returns to the older DS hardware that spawned it. But just because the platform might be aging doesn't mean that a game is less impressive; in fact, Devil Survivor 2 has such a captivating story and enticing combat that you won't care which system it's on.
You'd think the world were ending if you saw this on the street, too.
Devil Survivor 2's story follows the intrepid young hero (you choose the name), a normal high school senior just trying to pass his college entrance exams in modern-day Tokyo. All the kids in class are going nuts over an underground website that can allegedly predict future deaths of people, which you sign up for out of morbid curiosity. It isn't long before you and two friends receive a creepy email on your cell phones containing a movie showing your own impending deaths. While you manage to dodge your predicted fates, a cataclysm seems to have struck, destroying much of Japan's infrastructure and leaving citizens in a panic.
Making things even worse are demons running rampant and terrorizing the masses. Fortunately, you and your friends have been mysteriously gifted with a demon summoning app on your phones to conjure up your own otherworldly minions. But as the death predictions you receive become more and more frequent and society collapses around you, you need to not only excel in combat, but make wise life-or-death decisions to determine the fate of your friends--and even the world itself.
The story is excellent, filled with drama, tension, and interesting characters that you form a strong attachment to over the course of many hours of play. While the original Devil Survivor took place strictly in central Tokyo, Devil Survivor 2 has you traveling across the whole of Japan to many of the country's famous locales, adding some variety and local flavor to your team's ongoing quest for the truth behind the madness. This expansion of the game's world helps establish the scope of the calamity that has taken place. It's more than just a localized disaster; it's something that has worldwide repercussions. It isn't a linear tale, either: you often have choices about where to go and what to do. These choices can have a variety of effects, from simply strengthening your relationship with a companion character (and thus increasing his or her combat ability), to altering story sequences that can affect the game's ending.
Are you my mommy?
As superb as the story is, the combat is the meat of Devil Survivor 2. The core elements of these sequences are largely the same as in the original Devil Survivor. Characters take turns moving around a map along a square-based grid. When an enemy unit is in range, an attack can be initiated. The game then switches to a screen like that of a traditional turn-based role-playing game, where your group of three characters (a human leader and two demon allies) faces off against a similarly constructed team.
Each character in combat chooses what sorts of actions he or she wants to perform, be it physical attacks, magic skills, or other support-driven actions. Based on your choices (and a little bit of luck), you can potentially earn extra attack turns that let you get in some bonus strikes or recovery/support actions. But everything you can do, the enemy can do as well--and sometimes you're up against foes that have some downright brutal tricks up their sleeves. There's a tension to combat with even basic foes, since a few ill-advised choices can leave the enemy taking advantage of you. Even figuring out which member of a team to attack first is laden with strategy: taking out a team's leader fells an entire team, but leaders with teammates still alive take far less damage and yield less experience and money when defeated.