Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga

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Gameplay – 8/10

The opening cutscene is super cool imo.

+ Had a lot of fun with this entry in battle sequences.
+ Anyone can learn any skill tree, allows for a lot of flexibility. I especially liked how Void options were just party nulls but you can only apply one at a time.
+ Lots of strategies for fights, and you can’t cheese your way to an early power charge or good attack all the time.
– I enjoy 4 press turn sequences more than 3, but only a minor nitpick.
– Lategame ailments were pretty bad in this game.

Visuals – 8/10

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+ Cutscene fluidity was actually super cool in this game. The opening cutscene was one of my favorite parts of the game actually.
+ Standard SMT fare locales and demon designs.
+ Battle animations are fast so even if you get into a lot of encounters the game speeds by pretty quickly.

Story – 8/10

+ The story had an interesting premise for sure, but it was pretty barebones as well.
+ The characters were quite interesting and had their own motivations.
= Fighting each faction is pretty standard RPG fare.
– A lot of setup and unanswered questions so the story feels unfinished until DDS2.

Content – 7.5/10

+ Game was the perfect length to me, had enough content and ended before it’d get boring.
+ Skill progression was neat and tidy.
– Some sidequests and bosses were a little annoying or felt a little uninspired.

Music – 7.5/10

+ Meguro at it again with another quite good OST. Track list is a bit on the smaller spectrum though.
= Dungeon themes were pretty standard, but battle themes were great.
+ Standouts in this OST to me were Muladhara, Hunting, Hunting – Comrades.
+ I love Hunting so much that for being the games only standard battle theme it never got old. It’s so mellow for a battle theme it makes me feel right at home.

Extra Notes

39/50

Silverae Notes

– I really hate how status effects are balanced in this game. I’d sometimes just get stunned on purpose and not cure it because it was better to be stunned than to have any other status ailment.
– I liked Gale and Cielo the most for characters. I found it interesting how Gale wasn’t part of the “main” group that was in the alternate universe.
– Favorite dungeon was the castle with the story about the Evil and Good Prince. It felt so strange for a SMT game but it set the tone for that area very well with Heat and Serph’s dynamic at that point.

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga

Tales of the Abyss

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Gameplay – 7.5/10

+ This game is considered the blueprint for future Tales of games, sporting free run and the HP/TP system. AI isn’t too challenging with free run though, and the game does just have better artes for certain characters (Void Tempest, Rending Thrust, etc).
+ Boss battles were fun, especially the six God Generals, All 6 characters were pretty fun to play at times as well.
– Higher difficulties can be statchecky at times, see Unknown mode Liger Queen.

Visuals – 5/10

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– Bad framerate makes things look choppy.
+ Some artes/FOFs are pretty cool looking, but overall leave a lot to be expired. Jade’s spells are a highlight.
– Models and animations outside of battle seem choppy or slow.
+ General art assets are fine.

Story – 9.5/10

+ I really enjoyed all the characters in this game, they all have their own motivations for what they do, including the antagonists.
+ Sidequests bolster the amount of lore and backstory between characters like Tear and Legretta, or even minor characters.
+ The world is pretty well built, Auldrant has some really neat lore behind it.
+ I really think life being bound to prophecy and religion was an interesting concept and it was executed well in this game. It was really interesting how the characters fell into the prophecy and the decisions they took regarding their own destinies.

Content – 8/10

= There is always a lot to do in the story, although it doesn’t always feel fulfilling.
+ A lot of sidequests that are meaningful. Jewel of Gardios, Cecile/Frings, and various costumes are nice to have. I like how every playable character has their own artes sidequest line as well.
– Lots of backtracking.

Music – 4/10

= Standard Motoi Sakuraba fare of music. Some really boring music like the Baticul sewers but some pretty good music at times. Motoo Fujiwara’s contributions to the game are very enjoyable though.
+ Standouts include mirrors, finish the promise, abyss.

Extra Notes

+ FOF circles were the gimmick in this game, they actually make the game way more enjoyable in combat. (+1)
+ Multiplayer was good in this game, the camera zooms out further the more players you have. Doing the Arena Team Exhibition Battle with my sister was really a highlight of my younger years. (+1)

36/50

Silverae Notes

– Loading times are pretty bad.
– I love this game despite the lower score, I played it a ton with my sister and I have a lot of nostalgia for this game, but replaying it kinda let me see it’s flaws as well. It’s really fun to play with someone.
– Sunlight Chamber on Guy is super fun.
– I like Jade, Guy, and Tear a lot.

Tales of the Abyss