Ever since I got my hands on a 3DS, I’ve noticed something. Almost every Atlus game I played has ended up on my list of ‘favorite games of all time’ and at this point, I think they can do no wrong. I’m usually wary of putting my faith in large, game publishers but after years of consistently putting out brilliant games, I think my faith is justified.
Devil Survivor 2: Break Record is a game I bought on release. Buying new games is a leap of faith for me since I usually buy them second-hand – I’d rather not sell them at a loss if I don’t like what I played – and it’s saying something especially since the game was selling for a heart-arresting price of $59.90.
As of this review, I have finished the game twice. DS2: Record Breaker is undoubtedly the definitive edition of Devil Survivor 2, a Nintendo DS game that was originally released in 2011. I did play the original game years ago but never finished it, because I couldn’t even get past the first boss. Even after I sold the game, I remember wishing for an option to lower the difficulty.
And as you can see – my prayers had been answered.
The selling point of Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker is the addition of voice acting and bonus story arc. Fans of English dubs can rest well, the voice acting in this game is top-notch. The voice actors really breathe life into their characters, and I daresay that I prefer the English dub over the Japanese. In fact, I’m surprised I enjoyed the dub as much as I did. From the quality of the final product, it’s obvious a lot of hard work and passion went into this game.
One unique aspect only present in Devil Survivor games – much like the full moon in Persona games – is the fact you get to fight a different boss each day. Not only that, but new characters are also introduced in the same manner, every in-game day adding one or two new characters to the roster of playable characters.
With every new character gained and every boss defeated, the game eventually reaches a climax that will allow the player to make a decision, a decision that will affect the ending of the game. This mechanic is another staple of Devil Survivor games, and depending on which characters you interact or side with, you will eventually reach one of the game’s four endings.
I love this game mechanic because it keeps the player interested and involved with the game even after completing it, or to put it simply, it gives players a reason to keep coming back.
The story – while not as dark as I expected – is still interesting enough that it frequently kept me on my toes. Even during my second play through, the narrative still felt as fresh as ever! The mystery and vagueness reaches a satisfying climax so don’t feel too frustrated when you just started playing and have no idea what the hell is going on. Much like wine, the story gets better as it ages.
The story is by no means the best video game story I’ve ever encountered, but it is well written and exciting enough to keep you guessing. In fact, if you love the Persona series, you’d definitely enjoy this game since the overall atmosphere is pretty similar.
Now, some of my thoughts on the gameplay.
I know there are people out there who slam games with an ‘easy’ mode but I am not in that category. I think it’s a great idea for games, especially strategy and turn-based JRPGs, because they make the game much more accessible to newcomers. If they had never released Record Breaker, I don’t think I’d have finished Devil Survivor 2. But because they did, I found out that I really loved the game.
I finished each play through on ‘Blessing mode’ which I feel is equivalent to ‘Normal mode’ on other games. Despite touting itself as a mode for absolute beginners the game still proves to be quite challenging, but not to the point where you would toss your 3DS out of the window out of sheer frustration. The original Devil Survivor games are notorious for their difficulty, and grinding was a staple of the games as much as demon summoning.
Despite playing on ‘Blessing mode’ I think the gameplay was still immensely addicting. I was also able to get into the story – something which I never did with the original DS games.
In the end, Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker is a must buy. It’s great for newcomers as well as veteran fans. People who love turn based battles will get hooked on this game, no two ways about it.