Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga Review
Digital Devil Saga's great demon combat and tenebrous world full of myth and mystery make it worthy of the Shin Megami Tensei name.
- Deep, open character customization
- Strategic battle system
- Beautiful character art and an intriguing world.
- It's part one of two, so the story feels unfinished by nature
- Frequent random battles could test your patience and stamina.
"True Goddess Rebirth" is a somewhat literal translation of Shin Megami Tensei, Atlus' long-running role-playing series that deals with all manner of demons, deities, and the occult. Digital Devil Saga is the latest in this line of games, which includes last year's great Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. Similarly, this installment matches up favorably to its creepy forebears. Eschewing the series-favorite demon recruiting for an open skill advancement tree, Digital Devil Saga keeps the strategic balance of abilities that makes battle engaging and fun. As the first of a two-game continuity, some of the storytelling here poses more questions than it answers, but Digital Devil Saga stands well on its own, presenting a dark and interesting world that you can't help but want to know more about.
The Junkyard is a world dominated by scattered urban environments that surround a great building called the Karma Temple. Each small city is lorded over by a tribe, and the tribes all fight one another, purportedly to eventually gain the right to climb the heights of the Karma Temple to reach nirvana. One such battle between two groups converges on a strange artifact that bursts open during their conflict, firing out ribbons of light that spread over the land, giving all humankind the ability to take the form of bloodthirsty demons. Many of the transformed set upon one another immediately to devour the flesh they now desperately crave and need for survival. It was only after this initial confusion died down that a young man named Serph and his tribe, the Embryon, came upon a girl. She was within the artifact itself and could provide no clues as to where she was from or what her ultimate purpose was. She only new that her name was Sera. Then, the order comes down from the Karma Temple that the tribes must devour one another until there is only one tribe left. That remaining tribe must ascend the temple with the girl. The Embryon set out to accomplish this goal, as well as attempt to unravel just what it is that's happened to them and their world.
The Junkyard is a fascinating place, and its inhabitants are no less so; the entire world is fleshed out with Indian myth and lore (the warring city-states are all named after chakras, and Indian artwork is etched into the stone of the temples). The people are mostly battle-hardened and intent on reaching their goals. It's a grim spot to have to eke out a living, but the environments and characters all look great, as series artist Kazuma Kaneko brings Digital Devil Saga to life with style. From the urban zones the Embryon calls home, to the winding corridors of dungeons, to the bizarre fusion of spiritual grandeur and technology that is the Karma Temple, the world has a very unique feel. Unique, too, are the characters, with their kohl-rimmed eyes and sharply outlined lips in human form, as well as the truly outrageous demons, which feature teeth in the oddest of places. While you might not get to recruit enemy demons to your cause, the game doesn't stint on the abilities it lets your own demons learn.
Each character has the ability to specialize in mantra, which are sets of demon powers that enable you to learn elemental spells (like those involving fire, ice, and lightning), as well as new physical attacks and magic to boost your abilities. You'll buy mantra with money, and the only requirement to learning a given mantra is that you have enough money and any lower ranks of that particular ability tree. Any character can learn any ability in the game, so you're free to mix and match as you like. This leaves you wide open to mold your characters as you see fit, so long as you have enough money to keep buying mantras and enough points to train them. This means you aren't trapped into anything except for the character's innate weaknesses and resistances. It's almost akin to Final Fantasy X's sphere-grid system, but it's much more easily customizable, as you can trade around abilities from the very beginning.
- Player Reviews: 59
- Game Universe:
- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner (SAT, PS2, PSP),
- Shin Megami Tensei (PS3, VITA),
- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 (DS),
- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked (3DS),
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable (PSP),
- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor (DS),
- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon (PS2),
- Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 (PS2),
- Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga (PS2),
- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children - Messiah Riser (GBA)
- Number of Players: