Developer: Atlus / Publisher: Atlus / Played On: Nintendo 3DS / Price: $39.99 / ESRB: Teen (Fantasy Violence, Partial Nudity, Language, Mild Blood)
Tokyo is being attacked by monsters, and not Godzilla or the pocket variety. In Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked, the most recent release from Atlus and the creators of the Persona series, you take on the role of a handful of Tokyo teenagers who get caught up in a battle of angels and demons with the fate of the world in the balance. Devil Survivor Overclocked is an enhanced port for the Nintendo 3DS of 2009’s DS exclusive Devil Survivor. Merely two years after the original game came out does the 3DS release have enough power to pull gamers back in or is this battle already lost?
Devil Survivor Overclocked heavily relies on its story which is identical to the 2009 release. It’s a typical day for any teenager in Tokyo until you and your friends are given PDA-like COMPs and notice demons have appeared all over the city and surrounding areas. Your friend and convenient computer hacker Atsuro discovers the COMPs have the ability to summon demons just like the ones which have sprung up across Tokyo. On top of this, your COMP receives a daily email which tells of terrible accidents involving human casualties that you must try to prevent. You, Atsuro, and cautious friend Yuzu set out to discover the meaning behind the demons’ appearance, the blackout and subsequent lockdown of the Tokyo area, and the rumor that the world will end in just seven days. Throughout your journey you’ll encounter a handful of characters with their own motives which all tie-in to a grand plot. Characters can be melodramatic, but major plot events are paced well and it is hard to lose interest in what’s going on. The addition of full voice acting and anime-style character portraits make experiencing the story much more engaging over the original game.
The actual majority of the game consists of choosing a location to visit from an overworld screen, hearing a plot driven story event, and the spare battle with demons. While in battle, however, the game shines. A mix of RPG and strategy, Devil Survivor Overclocked has both satisfying and challenging gameplay. You command up to four units, each unit consisting of a human leader and two demon companions. Grid-based movement comparable to Final Fantasy Tactics governs movement and team placement, but battles are more RPG-like. Battles require a great deal of strategy. Using the correct elemental attack against weaker demons can make all the difference in a battle. Each fight is hard fought, and victory isn’t easy to attain, with missions often lasting upwards to 20 minutes in length. Devil Survivor Overclocked is not an easy game, and the battle system requires you to stay on your toes and adjure employ the best strategy in order to win.
Constantly upgrading and altering your team of demons is a major part of Devil Survivor Overclocked. Demons level up through experience in battle, learning new skills and increasing base stats. You can also acquire new demons through the Demon Auction, spending money to buy new and powerful allies. A cornerstone to Devil Survivor and the Shin Megami Tensei series is the ability to fuse demons together, creating a powerful new friend with powers taken from the two parent monsters. This element of gameplay ensures you’ll see tons of new creatures during the over 40 hour game, with familiar faces like Jack Frost and Angel.
While battles most battles are challenging, some of them are downright brutal. The gap in difficulty from one mission to another can be astounding, and you may need to grind your way up in level in order to progress. Certain missions require you keep civilians or NPCs alive in order to win, and the computer makes very poor decisions in the midst of battle, often walking right into danger. I endured many frustrating game-overs because of the computer’s incompetence.
Graphics and Sound
Being a port of a relatively recently released Nintendo DS game, Devil Survivor Overclocked needed only a minor facelift to pass for a current generation game. Enhanced character portraits keeps things clean around the edges. A variety of unique settings and demons all look smooth and colorful: each location is novel and the multitude of demons are one-of-a-kind. Being on the 3DS I was a little disappointed to find that there are no 3D components to the game. Without any impressive visual updates and minimal enhancements to gameplay (namely an additional day to play through) I am wondering why this update was needed.
One welcome addition to Devil Survivor Overclocked is full voice acting throughout the game. All dialogue between characters in and out of battle is spoken in English as well as being written in text. If it’s too much to listen to an option to turn off the voice acting is also available. Fitting music plays during battle and between cut scenes.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked is a very good game, if not an unnecessary release. Minor enhancements to the graphics and sound coupled with the addition of an entire new day to play through are nice additions to the game, but shouldn’t warrant another play through of the game for those who already experienced the first. 3DS owners who haven’t played the source material should pick up Overclocked over the original because of the additional content, but gamers who have played the original game should pass on this release.