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

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker

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Gameplay – 8/10

+ Grid-based strategy elements were pretty good, crack systems and buffs are better utilized than in Devil Survivor 1.
+ Good amount of characters to build teams you like, but there isn’t much of an incentive to need to use other characters.
+ Press turn system is implemented in a unique style, giving you extra battle turns if you hit weaknesses.
– Early game fights felt really grindy, especially with the fairy healing skills.

Visuals – 6/10

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+ 2D sprites and maps. Demon art by Kaneko is always nice to see.
+ Consistent artstyle between characters however with traits that separate them well. (ie. Fumi’s cheongsam, Jungo’s toque)
– Lack of interesting animations.
– Definitely more charming DS/3DS games out there.

Story – 7/10

+ Concepts and otherworldly concepts were interesting.
+ Characters were mostly well developed, especially when it comes to the Triangulum Arc.
+ The Triangulum Arc is what the the Septentrion Arc should have been, although it is better with the extra context as you feel more for the characters. I’d give the Septentrion Arc a 5, and then add 2 for the Triangulum.
– The story feels like it runs around in circles pretty often until the end.
– You either have an idea of what’s going on, but the characters don’t so you run around for a while.
= Characters can be permanently killed, which changes some events.

Content – 9/10

+ A lot of character events, since there are so many characters.
+ Playing both the Septentrion and Triangulum Arcs is an easy 80~ hours if you like grinding extra battles.
+ There are even sidequests within the game, and new game + bonuses.
+ There is a lot of voice acting, and it is basically all done very well. There’ll probably be voices you don’t like, but there’ll also be voices you will really enjoy as well.
= Multiple endings with a lot of rehashed content, good for replayability if you really like the systems.
– A lot of reused content, specifically in the last days of the Septentrion Arc.

Music – 9/10

+ Kenji Ito did a wonderful job with this game. The soundtrack grows on you the more you play it. I felt a little lukewarm about the music at the start, but I’ve come around to really enjoy some of it.
= There is a lot of forgettable music, though it does fit the scenes it is played in.
+ Favorites were Exploration, Septentrion, Battle of the Brave, Will of the Species, Providence.

Extra Notes

– Amount of extra battles, demon cracking could have been a bit simpler.
+ QOL is very nice in this game, things can be done really fast. (Auction, Fusing, Character setups, etc.)

39/50

Silverae Notes

– A lot of likable characters in this game. I liked Daichi, Io (Triangulum), Ronaldo, Yamato, Miyako, and Fumi.
– My favorite character is definitely Otome though, I prefer her more balanced distribution to Fumi’s while still being basically as strong magic-wise after a certain point.
– Lategame demons were kinda hard to get, especially without getting Fate 5 on a lot of characters, though it’s usually like this in SMT games.
– I’d like to see another Devil Survivor game.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker

Tokyo Mirage Sessions

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Gameplay – 10/10

+ Session System was very intuitive, felt like a fun spin-off of SMT games for sure.
+ Feels very rewarding to do big damage, and boss fights weren’t gimmicky and just felt challenging.
+ Weapon Triangle system was fun to implement and gave me (has FE background) a sense of when to use certain party members to hit weaknesses, yet had elemental guessing.
+ Had a fun cast of characters that were all viable and easy to use. No penalty for switching out characters in battle as well, which gives an incentive to use other party members.

Visuals – 9/10

+ Really colourful game, and a lot of animated cutscenes (I don’t know how high the budget was for this game, but it surprised me for sure)
+ Session animations were fun to watch for sure.
+ Colourful palettes and nice artstyle.
– Models were a bit stiff at times.

Story – 5/10

– Story conflicts are managed easily, and without a lot of buildup. (Yashiro’s motives for fighting, Ayaha)
+ A lot of FE1/FE3 fanservice here, which personally I really enjoyed but need FE background.
+- Sidestories were hit or miss, but a lot still required FE background to get the true value of it.
+ This game is basically carried by the likable characters.

Content – 7/10

– Sidequests required a lot of backtracking and were very annoying with little reward.
+- Dungeon designs were very hit or miss.
– Sidestories that didn’t have chapter bosses were very flat.
+ Lots of things and systems to upgrade.

Music – 8/10

+ Overall quite good, dungeon themes were a little lacking to me.
+ Liked most of the vocal themes more than I thought I would. Raindrop Memories is probably my favorite song, then Black Rain is the followup vocal song.
+ Battle themes in general were great. The beats and rhythm in Extra Battle.
+ Standout themes: Battle Theme, Bloom Palace, Extra Battle , Quest Battle, Dual Battle, Dream Catcher-inst-.

Extra Notes – (-1)

– Lack of QOL and skipping watching sessions especially late-game.
– Probably way too much backtracking.
+ Systems of gaining abilities through weapons and unlocking weapons with drops was very fun, gave incentive to fight.

38/50

Silverae Notes
– Touma is probably the best sidekick character I’ve ever seen. Shows up and doesn’t give any fucks, and helps your gang out already having the power to fight unlike needing help like most sidekick characters. He kinda got shafted later, but he has mostly everything down and his side story just feels like hanging out with him.
– I love Mamori and she must be protected.
– Yashiro is a really fun character that goes through a lot of growth, I feel like his side-stories were done best and you can definitely feel like the growth is natural. I don’t typically like edgelord characters, but he’s got the good touch of friendliness. I didn’t like Black Rain at first but it really grew on me too and now it’s one of my favorites.
– I’m really happy with the amount of Shadow Dragon fanservice, I thought this game would pander more to Awakening fans. Although instead of Awakening characters stealing the spotlight, I guess Tsubasa kinda did.
– Gold was pretty useless in this game.
– This game really did feel like a Persona 5 prototype.
– People should give this game a chance for sure.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions

Shin Megami Tensei IV

Hello all, this’ll be my first review on this website and I’m hitting up none other than the notorious Shin Megami Tensei IV for the 3DS!

Shin Megami Tensei IV is well, obviously the 4th installment of the Shin Megami Tensei series by Atlus! It’s a JRPG game that is turn based, and the series is notable for having darker themes than other games and also for being difficult at times! And of course, demons.

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The box art is pretty beautiful, I must say. Tells you exactly what you’re about to get into, Walter on the left and Jonathan on the right, representing both demons and angels or chaos and law. Shin Megami Tensei is notorious for it’s alignment choices, so this here is quite a nod to that system.

Gameplay 8/10

This game uses the standard press turn system of a Shin Megami Tensei. Basically if you hit a weakness of an enemy you are fighting, you get an extra turn of action, and if you’re hit by an enemy who strikes your weakness, they get an extra turn of action. This can make some battles quite difficult, but to me I personally found this entry to be one of the easier mainline Shin Megami Tensei installments. This game has many demons for you to collect, fuse, and negotiate with to join your party! Sometimes you’ll even recruit guest characters to join you as well. Skills are used in battle alongside normal attacks and there are many skills to use. You can also easily pass on skills when you fuse two demons together to get a third one. Unfortunately, I feel that made the game a bit too easy since it’s very easy to get a good spread of demons this way unlike prior installments when you couldn’t just pass over everything you wanted to. There is some customization with your own character in terms of his equipment, apps (basically passive skills), and you can choose what stats to level up. In this sense you can gear to be a mage, fighter, jack of all trades character and other things. Negotiating is fun for a while, where you answer a demons questions and demands and try to sway them to join you, but after a while you get used to all the options and you won’t be using demons you negotiate, just ones you fuse since the ones you fuse are better with all the passover abilities.

When you aren’t in battle, you’re on the map. When I first got this game I was slightly confused by the point and click where you want to go, but as you descend into Naraku and Tokyo, you realize you walk on a map more similar to SMT3 and to go to other destinations there is a sort of world map. There are a lot of things you can look for in terms of the map like treasure, demons to fight or just characters to talk to. It’s pretty normal for a game in that you touch an enemy you fight it, and there’s not a whole lot of interaction there other than the fact that you can attack them to get extra damage off at the start of a fight or they can get the jump on you (and maybe wipe out your whole team in a round!). Overall the general experience is quite satisfying, especially when you get a boss killed in one round (bosses are generally hard in these series)!

Visuals 9/10
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The world of SMT is very vast, you begin in the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, and you descent down through the depths of Naraku and finally into Tokyo itself. The game itself is very beautiful and the art style personally is one of my favorites in the SMT series. It renders itself nicely on the 3DS and the art for the demons is very well done. To be honest, after playing Nocturne I hoped they would continue with the 3D art style as with the new generation systems like the PS3 and up, you’d think that they could do amazing renders of the demons. But the 2D art is well done indeed. The real winner is the dark 3D overworld though, every area has it’s charm and creepiness to it, as the world itself is very dark indeed. The 3D cutscenes are very interesting as well, as they don’t really feel like cutscenes at all but rather moving pictures which give the game a lot of atmosphere.

Sound 8/10

Did you know that this installment is the first to be voice acted? Well, it is and it is done very well. The characters have a lot of life to them even though Shin Megami Tensei installments don’t focus on the characters too heavily, and it’s definitely thanks to these voice actors. The music by Ryota Koduka and Kenichi Tsuchiya, and arranged by Toshiki Konish is done very well. I thought it was interesting they didn’t use their very own Shoji Meguro, but they did very well indeed. There is a very interesting sound direction they created for this game, and it really shows. It’s pretty dark and there’s a tune that fits the atmosphere very well albeit they might not be good to hear. Though there are of course the blood pumping battle themes as well!

You hear this one when you boot up the game. And it’s crazy! It starts on a very low pitched note and it develops into one of the best themes I’ve ever listened to. As soon as I heard this I knew the game was gonna be crazy.

One of the main battle themes, listen to that bass go man…

Main overworld theme, and it does rock. The one thing I’d watch out for though is even though these are put in the game, 3DS speakers are normally not that good and the soundcard, and there is a LOT of bass in this OST so they don’t sound as good as they do here. But that’s a good taste of what to expect in the first place anyways!

Content 13/15

The content in this game is immense. The game follows an unnamed man (given name Flynn), on his journey to become a Samurai. He eventually becomes one and realizes that the goal of a Samurai is to defend the kingdom of Mikado obviously, but also to combat demons. Mikado is broken down to two classes, the “Casualries” and the “Luxurors“. The former are a peasant class, while the latter are nobles if you compare them to ourselves. You soon meet Jonathan, Isabeau, and Walter who are all also Samurai in training. All three of them have unique personalities that you may or may not agree with, and the choices down the line you make involving them and yourselves will affect the outcome of the story.

Stated above, there is a choice system that directly affects the storyline although it seems transparent in the way that it does. This is because the choice system is very well crafted, and that the answers aren’t as easy to look at as they seem. Some characters make it obvious which are the good or bad answers, but for the most part it is well crafted. By the time you reach the end, you realize how heavy the decisions you made impact the game, and it feels very fulfilling. Definitely good writing.

The game itself is quite long and there is a lot to do, and I was definitely pleased with it.

Extras (+2)

This game has a TON of quests for you to do, though in reality only some of them are extras. You need to do a lot of them for the neutral ending, so in the end they aren’t really extras if you gotta do them, hey? Lots of fetch quest type stuff too which is no good… I definitely liked the Nozomi subplot though! There are also quite a few areas you never need to go to in the main story arc that you can visit which is pretty cool.

Replayability (+1)

This game has some replayability, it makes you replay the game 4 times to get all 4 endings, but other than that there isn’t much else to do. More than one difficulty level and new game + also, but to beat the game 4 times to get different endings is very annoying. I’d only recommend to play it twice as there are path splits.

Pros
  • Great overall package of a JRPG (story, music, battles, graphics are all good)
  • Lots to do (demon negotiation, quests)
Cons
  • A bit nonlinear at times (confusing overhead map)
  • Some annoying fetch quests

Overall Score 41/45

closing

I really enjoyed this game and I’d recommend it to anyone, it was very well worth it! Definitely filled the gap of no SMT from Nocturne to IV very well!

“I’ll end it thus.”

ps. I liked Isabeau…

Shin Megami Tensei IV