For those unfamiliar with the original Devil Survivor, it is a tactical role-playing game set in Tokyo, Japan. After demons invade and attack the city, it is locked down, and innocent lives are lost and helpless. The protagonist and his friends learn that, with their modified electronic devices called COMPs, they can summon helpful demons to help fight the destructive ones wreaking havoc across Tokyo. Even more disturbing is that the hero finds out he has the ability to see how long a person has left to live, including his own and his friends’ death clocks. Upon learning that everyone stuck in the quarantine will die in seven days, the group attempt to change their and the city’s fates.
Anyone familiar with Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics will immediately be right at home with the basis of how Devil Survivor works, with you moving characters a certain number of squares over battlefields, then choosing attacks against enemies they get close to. What sets this one apart from other SRPGs, though, is the way combat is played through 3 vs. 3 battles, with one main character being the leader, and having two demon supporting characters fighting beside him or her. The same applies for your opponents. The tactical judgment comes in deciding whether you should wipe out the enemy’s supporting characters first, or go straight for the heart of the threat and attack the leader, which will automatically defeat the opposing party. You control up to four squads on the battlefield, with the main characters of the game making up each squad as its leader.
Units have up to seven abilities, which include attacking options, passive actions that affect strengths and weaknesses of opponents, as well as special race-specific behaviours for demons and buffs for humans. Experience points are gained through defeating enemies, which level-up the characters and demons, in turn learning new abilities. Humans learn new abilities through a process called skill cracking. At the start of a battle the player chooses a skill of an enemy that they would like to learn for each character unit, and then defeat that opponent with the required squad. After cracking an ability, it is free to be used for all human units. Demons mostly learn new moves from the unique fusion system in the game. By fusing two demons together a new one is created, inheriting or learning new skills, and generally being more powerful. Demon fusion is a key element of the game that is very much an experimental feature for the player; by mixing different demons you can view the outcome and decide whether it will be beneficial or not. A demon auction of sorts is an alternative way of gaining new demons, with the player spending ‘macca,’ the currency of the game, in an attempt to win new allies.
Devil Survivor is quite non-linear, with the choices the player makes at the beginning and throughout the game reflecting the outcomes later on. Advancing the plot comes in the form of speaking to specific characters, and story-based missions will push the game’s clock forward a set amount of time, resulting in certain activities becoming unavailable or new ones opening up. Free battles are not story driven, but can be taken part in to gain experience and money, as well as improve the party’s skills.
What has been added in the 3DS port then? Devil Survivor Overclocked is now set at a much higher resolution, with redrawn character portraits and clearer graphics and text. Somewhat surprisingly, however, is that there is hardly any use of 3D. The action and battle scenes take place on the touch-screen, with character information displayed on the top. About the only part of the game that uses 3D is the opening cinematic. A demon compendium has been added, which allows the player to re-summon or duplicate demons at a cost, making it a very useful feature that saves a lot of time fusing and auctioning. New demons, skills and missions are introduced, as well as a much-needed ‘Easy’ mode. As most Shin Megami Tensei fans know, these games can get very challenging, to the point where grinding is needed to deal with tougher opponents. ‘Easy’ mode rewards the player with more experience and money, removing the need to grind so much. An achievement-based system has also been implemented, with titles and points being received to spend at the start of a New Game +, allowing for the bringing over of demons, abilities and other data. A couple of other additions include faster gameplay in battles and extra save files.
As mentioned earlier, the game’s plot revolves around Tokyo collapsing after seven days. However, in Devil Survivor Overclocked, an eighth day has been added, which is probably the biggest extension to the original game. The story itself allows for multiple endings, but with the eighth day branching off from some of these endings, this potentially allows for multiple different eighth days. Add to this that the first seven days supposedly contained approximately 15,000 words of recorded voice dialogue, with the eighth day taking up 5,000 words on its own, and you can understand just how big this extra plot scenario is. Furthermore, the whole of the game is now fully voiced, with what has been regarded by fans as high quality English acting.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked has been referred to as one of the best and lengthiest role-playing games on the Nintendo 3DS by the media. The strategic gameplay allows for lots of customisation and the engrossing story provides multiple player choices and end results, earning high praise from journalists and gamers alike and definitely deserves a release in Europe and Australia.