Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga II

Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga II

Developer: Atlus
Publisher: Atlus USA
ESRB: MA (Mature 17+)
Release Date: October 4, 2005

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Let the Final Battle For Paradise Begin!

After killing off all the other tribes in the Junkyard and then defeating "Angel" at the top of Karma Temple, Serph, leader of Embryon, thought that he was finally going to ascend with his comrades into the land of Nirvana, where they would know only eternal peace and happiness; but the future didn't quite turn out that way. Instead of the gates of heaven being opened, the Junkyard disappeared and he woke up to find himself alone in a desolate city where the streets were empty, except for the numerous remains of human statues. Thus begins the story of Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga II.

The game's rising conflict picks up early on, as right after waking up, Serph finds himself surrounded by a host of white-clad guards that want to arrest him for being an unauthorized Avatar Tuner. Naturally, he refuses to go down without a fight, especially when he recognizes the insignia of the Karma Temple on their weapons; but when battle ensues, Serp witnesses, to his complete shock, that the guards are capable of transforming into demons too. The war he fought to escape the Junkyard, it seems, is far from over.

Many characters from Digital Devil Saga will be making a comeback in this sequel, including the rest of Tribe Embryon and Sera, the mysterious girl who appeared after the light that gave everyone demonic forms swept over the Junkyard. A new playable character being added to the mix, however, is Roland who acts as the leader of Lokapala, a rebel group that is fighting against an organization known as The Karma Society. His Atma is called Indra, after the Hindu god of rain and lightening, and is closely aligned with electricity in the game.

As it turns out, the strange, empty world that Serph and his tribe have been transported to is none other than earth, but obviously not an earth that players would comfortably call home. At some point in the past, an unknown phenomenon caused the sun to change from yellow into black, bringing with it a special kind of energy that scientists later dubbed "Solar Data." With the spreading of Solar Data across the planet's atmosphere, life on earth changed drastically; those humans who came into contact with the strange energy instantly turned into stone--a condition that became known as Cuvier Syndrome, after Margot Cuvier, the first scientist to research Solar Data. Solar Data also happens to affect Avatar Tuners (those like Serph and Embryon who have the demonic "Atma" forms), though results are not as deadly.

"All soldiers in the Karma Society are Avatar Tuners."

In this devastated earth, many humans are forced to live underground in grim, miserable cities like the Junkyard to avoid coming into contact the Solar Data, but there is one last refuge on surface, a great domed enclosure, called Karma City, that keeps out the effects of the black sun. At its core, Karma City is ruled by an elitist, military-like organization called the Karma Society, which is led by the scientist, Madame Margot Cuvier, and a woman known as Jenna Angel, who acts as her second-in-command. All soldiers in the Karma Society are Avatar Tuners.

Battles, in Digital Devil Saga II, are once again played out using the press turn system, which allows a certain number of turns based on how many characters are alive on the field. If a player uses an attack that an enemy is weak against, only a half of a turn is consumed; and likewise if the enemy is strong against the attack, the player can lose a turn. "Consume" can still be used devour enemies and gain high levels of Atma Points for skill development, and the auto-battle system is also back. However, one new twist has been added due to the presence of Solar Data in the game. Because Solar Data can affect your characters, there is a bar that measures the level of exposure they are under. When the Solar Data bar maxes out, your characters can go into a berserk form where they are trapped halfway between their human and demonic forms. In Beserker Mode, a character's attack power and critical hit rate increases dramatically, plus they gain more Karma after the battle than usual. However, his or her defense stats are much lower, and magic, combo, and transformation skills are made unavailabe.

In certain areas of the dungeons, players will also be able to participate in an activity called Field Hunting. Players of the first Digital Devil Saga will probably remember that a Field Hunt occurs whenever Serph discovers an area where there are a bunch of floating blue balls. If players destroy the balls in a certain time length, a battle will commence between Serph and several Mitama. Fighting and devouring the Mitama will earn players a great deal of Atma points.

The system for skill enhancement utilized in Digital Devil Saga has seen a little bit of renovation in Digital Devil Saga II. The Battle Mantras that can be purchased from special Karma Terminals are now organized around a hexagonal Grid system that shows all the different Mantra that are available. When a player buys his or her first Mantra, they must master it in order to access others, and then they are only able to access those that are adjacent to it. Some Mantras are far more expensive and difficult to master than others, so players should be especially careful about choosing where they initially start on the grid. A certain number of purple hexagons, containing "locked" skills, will also be present on the system, and they can become accessible only after all the adjecent Mantras around them have been mastered.

The graphics in Digital Devil Saga II are pretty much the same as those used in the previous game, but as an added bonus to those who have played and beaten Digital Devil Saga, "New Cycle" save data can be loaded into Digital Devil Saga II for access to certain skills and karma rings. A "hard mode" will also be made available, in which several parameters have been adjusted to for a more difficult challenge.

In offering players yet another dark and deeply entangled storyline to devour, Atlus hopes to complete their latest Shin Megami Tensei story arc with one great, big, demonic bang. Will they succeed? Release of the game is currently slated for October 4. Afterwards stay tuned to RPGamer for an official staff review.

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