Review by Darkness King
The Best RPG on PS2? Could be. Better than Final Fantasy X? You Bet...
Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2, made by Atlus, is actually a direct sequel to Digital Devil Saga 1. Atlus being one of the few companies that figured out how to make a great rpg is actually a great success in Japan. Altus made over 10 'Shin Megami Tensei' game. SMT: DDS2 is one of the darkest rpg you could find, and it has a deep storyline to it. It is not suitable for younger children. For those who played, SMT: Nocturne, you should give DDS series a try. It has almost everything that made Nocturne, but it definitely has much more character development.
Story - 10/10
You are the leader of the tribe 'Embryon'. The world of SMT: DDS is pretty simple, in order to survive, you must devour others to satisfy your hunger. You either fight for your life, or become part of a delicious meal. In the junkyard, your tribe fought a gruesome war, hoping the light of heaven would relieve the suffering of your team. In the end of DDS 1, your world vanished, along with all your comrades. You thought that reaching to Nirvana would mean the end of everything. However, it turns out that The Promise Land is nothing but a new hell. Is Nirvana really what we see? Who is Angel? What exactly is 'God'? As the story unfolds, some familiar faces from the Junkyard are found, but not exactly in the way that you'd think. You must uncover your past in order to save the future. There are some great twist and surprises here and there in the game.
Character Development - 10/10
If there is one thing that all the DDS2 player agrees on, it has got to the character development. You will get so addicted to the game that you become Serph. You can feel everything that he feels. Serph is a silent protagonist in this series. You will only hear him talk a few times. However, all the other voice actors did an excellent job, absolutely spectacular. All the VA brought the characters to life. The voice tones are not contradicting the character's persona. You won't find them annoying because they talk when they only need to. You will fall in love with the whole tribe that you WILL cry or at least come close to shedding a tear in the game...... Of course... you are going to laugh too.
Battle and Leveling - 10/10
The Mantra Grid is back. The Mantra Grid now is a series of hexes, each mantra have about 3 skills (Ex: Void Fire, Fire, Fire Drain) in it. When a character masters a particular mantra, they then become able to learn any mantra directly adjacent to it. After each battle you will earn some Atma Points (AP) that goes to the mantra that you are trying to learn. The more mantra you learn, the easier time you will have the game. This game uses the Press Turn System. The idea of this system is really simple. You ALWAYS start out with 3 turn icons, 1 icon = 1 turn. Each time you hit a Critical Hit or hit an enemys weakness, you gain a turn. If you miss an attack, you miss a turn. If your attack is reflect/shielded, you lose all your turns. You might think "wow, amazing! I can waste a boss in no time in this case"... Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! The same system goes for the enemy too. Each dungeon you go into, with the wrong setup of skills and abilities, you can easily get a game over screen. Here is an example. So you are at level 99, and you think you are undefeatable. If all your characters are weak to fire, a level 50 monster could easily take you out with a few fire spells. You need to plan out your strategies. Battle happens quite often in this game, but due the Press Turn System, you won't get bored of random battles. It is really important to master lots and lots of Mantra for every character, so you won't get an instant KO. There is also the Solar Cycle that will affect the combat in different ways. Most you don't need to pay too much attention to. However, one that you should look out is 'MAX'. Going into a random battle during 'MAX', will sometimes bring your characters to a new half-human, half-demon berserk mode. Your Critical Hit rate and your strength will go up, but in exchange for that, your defense will go way down and your enemy can easily critical hit you. If you win this, you get more EXP and AP. However, if you go into a battle like this without full health, chances of you dying are close to 100%. You can only 'Attack' or 'Escape' in MAX battle, you can't use spell or transform.
Dungeon - 8/10
Every game has its own flaw. Unfortunately for DDS2, it happens to be its dungeons. It really depends on how you look at it, really. This game contains some of the most annoying/confusing/frustrating/longest dungeons on PS2 RPG. You can find yourself circling in same building for hours. Once you finally found you way, you can easily die from a random battle, and have to start from the last save point. There aren't too much save points in most dungeon either. So as you can see, it can be really annoying. Even if you have the perfect mantra setup, chances of you blazing through a dungeon is 0%.
Graphic and Music - 10/10
Just couldn't possibly ask for more. Great opening theme song, 'Alive'. Graphic just couldn't possibly get any better. This game pushes PS2 to its limit.
Buy Or Rent
If you consider a true hardcore RPG player, you must buy the Digital Devil Saga series. It could be one of the best 2 chapters RPG you ever played. (Yes, DDS1 and 2 will put FFX and X-2 to shame) This game take roughly 25 to 30 beat. If you want to master all the mantra and beat all the optional bosses, it could take you up to 99 hrs.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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