First Impressions – Devil Survivor Overclock

15 May

Shin Megami Tensi: Devil Survivor Overclock is a tactical RPG for the Nintendo 3DS. Published by Atlus, it is an enhanced port of the DS game, Shin Megami Tensi: Devil Survivor. For those who aren’t familiar with Atlus, the company commonly re-release their games, but always gives players who enjoyed the original content a reason to spend their money again. To do this, they enhance the original game with slightly improved graphics,  new story lines, and new music. New features for Overclock are: an added 8th day, as opposed to 7 in the original release; improved, higher-resolution visuals; full voice acting; the ability to choose different difficulty settings; and an increased 20 demons to fight with.

Set in Tokyo, players take control of the Hero (left) as he meets his friends Yuzu and Atsuro. You’re supposed to meet up with your cousin Naoya, but he never shows. Instead, he’s given Yuzu “COMPs” (which look exactly like your DS system) for the three of you to have. Atsuro (being the lovable, too-smart for his own good sidekick) decides to hack the devices which triggers an email telling the future being sent to the three of you.

Yes, email that predicts the future. This is an Atlus game and it is set in the Shin Megami Tensi universe, so immerse yourself and don’t ask too many question or your head will explode.

Yuzu (right), being the stupid, large tittied girl that she is, is certain Naoya is playing a prank on you guys and wants to go see him right away. Of course, one of the things that email predicted was a murder that just happens to be at the same building Naoya lives in and you meet him just outside.

After being vague and warning of things to come, he runs off and leaves you guys holding the bag. Trapped by the government inside the Yamanote Circle, your trio learns (thanks to the protagonist’s ability to see a person’s “death clock”, representing how many days a person will have left to live) that everyone trapped with you is going to die within six days. That’s not the only thing you learn, you learn that the COMPs can summon demons after being attacked by three and defeating them and you’re all going to die tomorrow. That sets off your quest, save yourselves, escape and save everyone else. Along the way, you meet several other characters who will battle with you or share their story.

While the game play is amazing, the story of Devil Survivor (as with most Atlus games) is where this title really shines. Critics of Heavy Rain will probably dislike this immensely as there are many scenes where all you do is listen to the phenomenal voice acting. Because of this, I also recommend the 3DS version over the DS version which doesn’t have full voice acting.

Combat is a combination of tactical and standard J RPG formats. When in battle, the player takes turns with the other characters to defeat individual enemies and satisfy mission objects. Missions generally consist of defeating many demons in an area, completing other mission objectives like rescuing helpless characters, and mission failure results in death. Enemies and players control a squads composed of one leader and two supporting creatures. Each turn, a squad can move and attack an enemy like in any tactical RPG. During their turn, the members of a squad can also perform one additional action such as healing, buffing, disabling the enemy, or summoning a new demon to replace an unconscious one.

The player controls up to four squads. Each is led by a major character with summoned demons as their supporting units and the enemies faced in the game are similar, with squads of demons or a demon tamer with their owned summon demons. Each leader and squad member has up to seven abilities at their disposal: three active ones which are chosen as combat actions; three passive ones that boost the demon/human’s strengths and weaknesses; and a final slot for a buffing or RNG ability, such as being able to move a second time during a turn after combat.

There are many abilities and they are all learned in different ways. Demons learn them through leveling up, when the player trains the demon in a new ability after defeating a certain number of enemies, or by inheriting the ability from one of the two demons used to create it during fusion (the process of combining two demons to create a new demon). Human characters gain these by  using skill cracking on demons or other opponents they face. To crack a skill, the player targets a specific skill that a specific unit has on the field before battle. Each character is given their own skill to crack and they must defeat that unit to succeed in the crack. Other characters defeating the unit will cause the skill crack to fail. Once a skill is cracked, the player can assign these skills across to all other characters they control.

To attack an enemy, the leader has to be standing next to it. After moving and then choosing to attack an enemy, the game switches to a more traditional JRPG system. Players select one action for each squad member and AI does the same for its squad. Extra turns in this rotation can be earned by certain actions in combat, such as striking at an opponent’s weakness (fire, frost, darkness, etc.). While any member of the squad can be targeted, if the leader is taken down to zero health, the entire squad becomes falls unconscious even if the two supporting units remain healthy. The leader is also stronger while either of his squad members retain health.

Defeating individual foes in battle gains experience points for the player and their squad mates, as well as macca (the in game currency). Extra experience is gained if a player removes the enemies supporting squad members before attacking the leader. Obviously, this can also lengthen battles and can give time for enemies to heal themselves to full, so players have to be careful how they play. Completing a battle sometimes earns additional experience and macca for all of the leaders and squad members. It also completely revives any fallen units without the need to rest or heal with items so players can go right back into battle after completing one.

While engaging and complicated, like I said previously, this game is about the story. Players explore the Yamanote Circle as they like, but events are on a time line, like in Dead Rising. If you miss an even because you were talking to someone else, story lines change, characters can die. The ending you get can also be changed, though conversations are not the only factor in that. Oh, and did I mention your cousin is one of the bad guys? This story has more twists and turns than a roller coaster.

The graphics are low key, but clearer in the 3DS version, but actual cut scenes are rare. I haven’t had trouble with this because of how great the voice acting is (how many times have I said that so far?). The music is catchy and adds to the scenes, with the main theme stuck in my head now.

Maybe because I’m an Atlus fan girl (obligatory Atlus squee), but I find this game amazing. I doubt it that’s the reason, but I figure I’ll throw it out there anyways before I declare the game a Must Buy. Really, the only problem with Devil Survivor Overclock was trying to find find a copy of it at a local game store. So if you want it (and you know you want it), try to find it online.

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