Review by scathatch72
The Continued Adventures of Serph and his Band of Demon-Morphing Pals!
Digital Devil Saga 2 is the direct continuation of Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga.
And, having played the excellent SMT: Nocturne, I figured that the SMT series would be a great series to get into!
DDS2 picks up right after the end of the first game. Serph is separated from his Tribe, the Embryon, after The Junkyard mysteriously vanished. He meets up with Gale and Argilla soon enough, They had hoped that Nirvana would be bestowed to them, but Nirvana in reality was just a broken world, destroyed by a blazing, forboding black sun. The threesome must now find the rest of the Tribe, save the mysterious Sera, and find the truth behind their reason for being. The story is deep, with Hinduism undertones, and a great cast of characters, with cool personalities.
There's Serph(the mute hero), Gale(the strategist), Argilla(the kindly female), Heat(the stubborn hot-headed guy), Cielo(overly happy dude with a Jamaican accent, Sera(mysterious girl with an even more mysterious power), and Roland(an alcoholic leader of a rebel force).
One word: awesome! The music is a lot better than the first game, the battle theme in particular. I can honestly admit that I cranked up my TV set's volume and just rocked out to the battle theme. The opening theme, "Alive", is also noteworthy. The background music is well done, fitting well with the areas of the game. Just like the first game, the Voice Acting is great, and not at all painful to listen to. Every character who has a VA has a distinct voice that fits their personality.
That nifty Mantra Grid is back! The Grid has gotten a makeover, though. It is now a honeycomb-like structure. Now when a character masters the Mantra they are equipped with, new Mantras around that character's marker open up for purchase. And when the characters master the Mantras around a Purple Mantra, an "Esoteric" Mantra opens up. An Esoteric Mantra can be a Mantra which holds skills, or be just a node that boosts your party's stats by a few points. The majority of skills on the Grid are the same as the first, with a few new skills like Level Gift or Item Find.
Combos still exist! When your characters are equipped with a certain combination of techniques, a new, possibly strong Combo skill is discovered for use by the characters, but of course it will eat up your turns depending on how many characters particpate in the Combo.
The Press Turn battle system returns as well. In battle, you'll see blue icons at the top-right of the screen. Use a command or item, and you expend one icon. However, if you exploit the enemy's weakness, you'll expend less turns and be able to act more often. The same applies for the enemy. There's quite a bit of strategy invloved, and you cannot just send out two powerhouses and a healer into battle, for that will only make you experience the Game Over screen so fast your head will spin. Taking advantage of your enemy and blocking their moves are the keys to success!
Sadly, the game is quite short. As the second half of the two-part series, it ends all too quickly. I love this game so much, and was wishing it would be as lengthy as Nocturne(or at least pretty close), but no. But, the game comes with some nice extras, a New Game plus(where you get to KEEP all learned skills and Karma Rings from your last game), an Optional Boss(only available in HARD MODE, eek!), and if you have a Clear File from DDS when you start a new game, you open up rare items, powerful skills, Hard Mode, and if you made the right choices in the first game, your final party member may be switched for someone else.
Overall, a great, dark RPG that should not be missed. Pick it up, as well as DDS.
"Om Mani Padme Hm"(Pearl of the Holy Lotus)
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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