Save Tokyo All Over Again
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor was an underappreciated tactical RPG gem for the DS. It had all the great things you loved about the MegaTen (Megami Tensei) franchise—the demon raising, the fusion system, the needlessly complicated charts of move-inheritance, and more—while adding a tactical grid system and a non-linear time-based plot. Unfortunately, it didn’t do so well partially because the battles looked like something out of a Super Nintendo game. Luckily, the 3DS just came out, and with the power of its new graphics processor, the MegaTen team is looking to fix Devil Survivor’s aesthetic downsides with the release of Devil Survivor Overclocked, a 3DS remake.
At its base, Overclocked is the same Devil Survivor we know and love. It still has the tactical grid-based combat, the demon raising system, and the non-linear plot. First and foremost, fans will notice a serious improvement in the art. All character portraits are now drawn in high definition, with several more emotive poses added for each character. Demon models, while still mostly static (or having one or two frames of animation like Pokémon) are also drawn in high def. While attacks in the original game were just simple effects and sprite overlays, special effects for attacks in the remake fully utilize the graphical power of the 3DS. In short, this remake is very shiny.
It doesn’t just look good; it sounds good too. Atlus has added voiceovers for nearly every line of dialogue, and they aren’t half bad. Normally remakes tend to get the B list voice actors, but Atlus doesn’t skimp when it comes to correctly portraying their characters. This makes Overclocked not only one of the first RPGs to come out for the 3DS, but one of the first fully-voiced as well.
The MegaTen team has thrown in a few extras in terms of gameplay as well. Thus far, we know the game will be getting new demons you can buy and fuse, new abilities to put on both your characters and demons, new endings to unlock, and even the Eighth Day. For those of you who don’t know why this is important, Devil Survivor originally took place within the span of seven days of game time, but the Eighth Day is now a playable epilogue that gamers didn’t get in the original version. MegaTen fans, this what Persona 3: FES was to Persona 3. More gameplay for the win!
For non-MegaTen fans, I’ll run down the story of Devil Survivor for you quickly. Demons have invaded Tokyo, and as a result, the city is now on lockdown. The main characters suddenly realize that they have the ability to see “death clocks” over everyone’s head, which show how many days a person has left to live. Each of the main characters’ death clocks read zero (oops) but the highest death clock they can find reads seven. In short, everyone in quarantine will die within seven days, and it’s up to our protagonists to change fate and avert the coming apocalypse.
Overclocked plays like a standard grid-based tactical game, but when you move your character to attack another, the game switches to a first-person RPG, Dragon Quest style. There, each member of your three-character squad and each member of your opponent’s three character squad get to have one action (or more if you use special abilities to increase your action count.) Then the game shifts back into tactical mode. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Your characters get to fill their parties with demons that they can either buy in an auction or fuse together using demons they already have. These demons come with their own active and passive abilities, but the abilities of your characters always mater more. Not only do their passive abilities tend to affect everyone in the party, but they can also pass on their active skills to demons. Beating the game also gets you bonuses for a subsequent playthrough, so many walkthroughs of the game actually have you beating the game before you even seriously play it.
There are some weird design decisions in Devil Survivor Overclocked. For example, the action takes place on the bottom screen, which isn’t 3D, and the top screen mainly just handles menu information. That’s weird, but it doesn’t really make the game worse.
Overall, Devil Survivor was an awesome game and Devil Survivor Overclocked is looking to be an awesome remake. MegaTen fans—or fans of JRPGs at all—should pick this one up when it launches next month.