Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 Review (PS2)

The conclusion of the Digital Devil Saga improves on the previous title, but may not be enough to entice a new audience into the story.

Developers Atlus have spun a dark and complex tale of spirituality and twisted morality, and although the first game did reach a conclusion, it left many mysteries and character arcs to be completed.

Paradise is overlooked by a black sun and inhabitants turned to stone Exploration sees Serph represent the player

You’re given control of the silent and emotionless Serph, who appearance in the first game combined heroism and villainy, along with companions Gale and Argilla. Having arrived in ‘paradise’ and discovered a new hell after their journey from the Junkyard, they must now follow new character Fred to find their friends, and their actual identities.

The complexity of the storyline, which is almost impossible to discuss without spoilers, means that narrative sections are regular and often, breaking the monotony of exploration and random battles with the Karma Association who police the area and hunt humans.

Those battles follow the traditional RPG turn-based rules, with an added edge that you are never guaranteed a full turn. If your attacks result in critical strikes and spells against the weak spots of your assorted enemies, you’ll gain extra attacks. If you make a mistake, however, you risk having the tables well and truly turned on you.

Hexagons represent turns which can be won or lost in battle Expect random battles every few steps

Your fighting abilities come from ‘mantras’; schools of demon abilities which cover the elements, physical attacks, healing and much more, with three characters fighting at any one time. Any character can learn any mantra, with some locked abilities only available if you master all the surrounding abilities. And with mantras paid for by money from battles, you’ll spend a lot of time ‘levelling up’ in the same areas. In some ways then it’s fortunate that you can encounter battles every few steps, plus hidden bosses and optional extras to extend the 30-40 hours of main storyline.

Every so often you’ll find yourself surprised by the site of your three characters transforming into their demon selves, and the transformation of seemingly weak opponents into fierce and frightening enemy forms which pose a real threat to your safety. Or the randomly-triggered Beserk mode which places your warriors in half-demon form, needing a change of tactics on the fly.

Luckily DDS2 has made some user-friendly steps, including numerous save points – many of which allow you to teleport around the levels – and plenty of places to regain health and magic.And if you completed the first game, importing your save will give you some different abilities and outcomes, although none radically change the game.

The graphical style of Kazuma Koneko supports the storyline with a unique look which emphasises the differences from the other games in the genre. The voices of the characters also contribute with a more authentic and relaxed feel than the previous game.

It can be hard to differentiate heroes from villains Your foes are designed to repulse and scare

Overall, Digital Devil Saga 2 is a game created for those who worshipped the first instalment, and for those looking for a role playing game which makes an effort to stand out ideologically, if not in the controls or game play. It can become a chore at times, but if you’re looking to experience atmosphere and the mixing of science and magic to create something truly intriguing, then it’s worth picking up both games to truly appreciate the series.

Top Game Moment:
Seeing your characters transform for the first time, before devouring your enemies.

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