Chu*Review: Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga

When I recently purchased a used Playstation 2 (I have two fat PS2s at home that are completely broken and I was tired of my PS2 games collecting dust), I purchased both Persona 3 and Persona 4 for it. I had seen my friends play these games and fell in love with them, and nabbing copies of my own made me decide to search good ol’ YouTube for some Let’s Play series on some other Shin Megami Tensei games (for those who don’t know, a Let’s Play series is a series of videos where a person plays through a game, usually with commentary).

The first one I came upon was for Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga, so I decided to take a look. The game started off slow at first, but as the storyline developed, I quickly found myself hooked.

The story starts in a dark, drab techno-future world where people are living in tribes, seemingly peacefully because they have no idea or concept of emotions. Suddenly, a meteor hits the planet, leaving behind a big crater and a mysterious girl named Sera who has no memory of who or what she is. Whats worse, everyone has started turning into monsters, and Sera’s singing is the only thing that can soothe these savage beasts!

The tribe leaders meet with an omniscient being named Angel who tells them that the only way to survive is to kill the other tribes and take Sera to a place called Nirvana. The main character, Serph, is the leader of the Embryion tribe and the keeper of Sera, who seems to remember him. As the humans begin to learn to control their monsterous forms, they begin to feel and understand emotion, which starts driving them to do some pretty crazy things that shakes up the sudden and deadly war to reach Nirvana.

What really makes the story shine is watching the characters learn emotions and try to figure what to do with them. Some learn love, others learn loss, and many learn what the burning of justice and righteousness feels like, and it fuels their desires to make their own paths to Nirvana. As you may be able to tell by some of the names and terms I’ve mentioned, this game is heavy with religious connotations (as are many other Shin Megami Tensei games), and this adds a whole other level to the storyline and the meaning behind many of the characters thoughts and actions.

The gameplay is pretty straightforward for an RPG, and if you’ve played SMT games before, it won’t be anything too new for you. Characters gain experience, level up, and earn money through battles. What is unique about the gameplay is that they learn techniques by purchasing Mantras, which are sets of abilities. You level up your Mantra by devouring creatures that you fight until you earn the abilities. However, you must frighten the monsters first; eat them too quickly and you’ll fail. You also run the risk of getting a stomachache, which greatly decreases your stats in battle. The only problem I have with this is system that the Mantras seemed pretty expensive compared to the amount of money the player was pulling in, and he wasn’t running from any battles, so you really have to put in the time to grind if you want to earn some of the better abilities in the game. If you’ve played SMT games before, though, the need to grind will be more than familiar to you.

Other than that, its a basic RPG/dungeon crawler. Unfortunately, it falls into the trap of having the dungeons look too much like each other. The repetitive rooms and drab color schemes are probably this game’s biggest downfall.

The one thing that is certainly not drab however is the music. Anyone who has played a SMT game knows that the music is always killer, and Digital Devil Saga certainly doesn’t disappoint in that regard, with its gorgeous soundtrack ranging from transient and calm to energetic and ripe with guitar riffs. The music may get a bit repetitive at times, but its pleasant enough that it really doesn’t get on your nerves at all.

So if you’re looking for a good PS2 RPG that is fresh enough to set it apart from other members of the genre but familiar enough to be able to pick up and play, then Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga is definitely a title to consider.

Check out TheLastCaipora’s Let’s Play of Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga for yourself here!

Purchase Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga via this link and you’ll be supporting Chu*Blog at no extra cost to you! Thanks in advance!

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