For November this year, my 3DS Game of the Month is one that is an updated re-release of a DS title. It involves a website that shows your friends’ deaths in advance, summoning demons and an invasion by extraterrestrials known as Septentriones.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is a remake of the DS title Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2. Its new features include a new story set after the events of the main game, as well as DLC and StreetPass and SpotPass functionality. Much like Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked before it, the characters are now all voiced.
You can choose to tackle the Septentriones or Triangulum when you first start up the game – the latter is the new story added for Record Breaker.
If you haven’t played the game before, tackling the Septentriones is your best bet – though, I have played the original DS game, but I chose that option so I would get the full experience – besides, there are multiple endings.
You can also choose between Blessed and Apocalypse difficulties – Apocalypse is the harder one, naturally.
The Septentriones story arc starts with the protagonist (who you choose a name for) and Daichi Shijima making their way back home after exams. They also encounter fellow pupil Io Nitta in a subway station.
All three are signed up for a website called Nicaea – a “dead face delivery site”. It supposedly foretells your friends’ deaths and provides a video with the way in which they die.
Whilst waiting for a train, the protagonist, Daichi and Io all receive an e-mail from Nicaea, with videos showing the three of them dying in a subway accident.
Shortly afterwards, an earthquake shakes Japan and the subway accident shown in the video happens. However, the three students are able to avoid their grisly fate by making contracts with demons.
By becoming demon summoners, the three students find themselves drawn into a week-long battle against extraterrestrial invaders known as Septentriones. They are aided by an organisation known as JP’s (Japan Meteorological Agency, Prescribed Geomagnetism Research Department), though it’s clear that they have their own agenda.
It’s not just extraterrestials that you have to fight against in Devil Survivor 2. Turns out that there are many demons to fight as well – fortunately, users of the demon summoning app have the tools to overcome the situation.
The first battle of the game has your characters defeat a few demons and form contracts with them, but recruiting more afterwards involves an auction – a variety of demons are up for sale, with some possibly possessing unique skills. Of course, you need to earn ‘macca’, the in-game currency, before participating in an auction. You do that simply by completing battles.
However, relying solely on demons bought from auction will not cut it as you progress through the game. This is where demon fusion comes in – by fusing two demons together, you create a more powerful one. You’ll lose the demons you fuse together, but they can pass on their skills – if you want any hope of surviving the Septentriones, fusing demons is key.
The human characters are also able to use the demons’ skills thanks to the demon summoning app – no need to just rely on the ‘attack’ command here. You can learn new skills by ‘cracking’ them – basically, selecting an enemy’s skill before a battle and then defeating them – of course, it will need to be the specific character you choose to crack the skill that needs to defeat the foe.
Talking of human characters, there’s a fair few that are playable besides the three already mentioned. As you progress through the game, you can build up the bonds between the protagonist and the other characters – this has benefits such as allowing the fusion of new demons or letting the character gain a resistance to an element.
Of course, when those characters have a death video sent to you on Nicaea, it’s pretty vital to ensure that you are at the right place at the right time to ensure that their fate is changed.
Navigating around Japan is as simple as selecting where you want to go through a menu – certain areas will have scenes for you to watch at specific times of day. Of course, there are also plenty of battles.
Being a strategy RPG, Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker has turn-based battles. You can dispatch up to four characters to fight, with each one forming a team with two demons. Naturally, enemies also have groups of up to three as well.
Movement is grid-based, and you have several options available during the course of a skirmish – move, use a skill or fight. You can perform those in any order, but only once each per character’s turn.
When you do fight, the screen shifts to a battle scene that shows your enemies. You can select your attack commands, and then an exchange of blows takes place.
Hitting enemies’ weaknesses may reward an extra turn, or possibly cancel an enemy’s extra turn. Of course, this is the same for the enemy as well, and things like critical hits and certain skills can affect extra turns.
Defeating enemies earns macca and experience. Leveling up means an increase in one stat, which is pretty much set for all of the characters and the demons. However, the protagonist is an exception to this – you can choose which stat to increase when he levels up. This means you can have him become a physical attacker with a hefty amount of defence, or maybe a swift magic-user type. There are four different stats to increase: physical, magical, agility and vitality. Certain skills require specific stats to be at certain levels, so that’s something to bear in mind as you level up your character.
The new stuff added for Record Breaker is another seven-day campaign, this time against an enemy called ‘Triangulum’. New character Miyako Hotsuin appears in this arc, and characters from Durarara!! cameo as demons.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is definitely something that fans of strategy RPGs should look into – particularly if you missed out on the DS original. With Genei Ibun Roku #FE (AKA Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem) due for release next year, this seems like a pretty good game to play in the meantime (alongside Fire Emblem: Awakening, of course – another mighty fine example of a strategy RPG).