Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner - PS2 - Preview 2
Recently I’ve had the opportunity to try out one of Atlus USA’s upcoming titles: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army. Wow, that’s a mouth full. I’ll just call it Devil Summoner from now on. This latest entry in the “MegaTen” metaverse features the dark themes that fans enjoyed in Nocturne and Digital Sevil Saga but with a new fast paced combat system and a storyline inspired by turn of the century pulp novels.
Players will take the role of young devil summoner Raidou Kuzunoha who makes a living as an investigator in the capital city of Japan during the 1920s. Early in the game you’ll be introduced to Raidou’s mentor/guide Gouto. Gouto is a grey talking cat that loves to mix sarcasm with his advice. You’ll also meet your “boss,” Narumi, the proprieter of the Narumi Detective Agency. Narumi’s the kind of guy that takes the cases that other folks just can’t crack. Both of these characters offer good advice to the player as they work through their first case as a devil summoner.
Radiou’s first case starts right away as he and Narumi are asked for help by a high school girl named Kaya. Narumi and Radiou meet Kaya at one of the bridges in the capitol and she asks them to kill her. Before the detectives can ask any questions the area fills with smoke and Kaya is kidnapped by soldiers in red armor. Not ones to leave so many questions unanswered, Raidou and Narumi now take it upon themselves to figure out what’s going on.
As Radiou, it’s your job to do the legwork on the agencies cases. You are the one that can summon demons after all. So while Narumi is pushing paperwork at the office you’ll be hitting the streets to gather clues. The capitol has become dangerous over the past few years and dark beings have found their way out of the dark world to Radiou’s reality. Luckily, you have the upper hand thanks to Raidou’s sword, revolver that can be loaded with elemental bullets, and collection of demon confinement tubes.
As you canvass the area for clues, you’ll run into random battles just like in the other Shin Megami Tensei PS2 titles. While, Nocturne and Digital Devil Saga’s battles were like strategic games of chess, Devil Summoner’s battles are like a quick game of checkers. Instead of turn-based fighting system, the game features an action-fighting system in which the player controls Radiou while giving commands to a demon ally. Radiou has various sword combos that can be done with the square button and triangle fires a three round burst form his trusty sidearm. Radiou can also pause the action to summon a more appropriate ally demon, use items, and analyze the weakness of the enemy. After weakening an opponent Radiou can attempt to confine the demons to one of his confine tubes. This requires mashing the circle button as quickly as possible to drain a bar that appears in the corner of the screen. This test is affected by the moon phases, the demon’s level, and various other factors which can make this trial super easy or a real thumb buster.
Digital Devil Saga aside, a “MegaTen” game isn’t complete without demon fusion. Collecting demons has a, I hate to say this, “Pokemon” feel to it, but sacrificing one demon to make another stronger or combining two to make an all-new demon isn’t something you’d see in a kids game. Fusion in Devil Summoner is one of those easy-to-learn-but-hard-to-master features and it is the key to building a strong, diverse team of demons. A good chain of fusions can result in a demon with few weakness and lots of strengths or a dud that is best used in a sacrifice fusion.
From what I’ve seen so far, Devil Summoner has all the things you expect from a Shin Megami Tensei title, but with a fun new twist. If you enjoyed action RPGs like Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Radiata Stories and Tales of Symphonia you may want to check out Devil Summoner. For “MegaTen” fans it’s a no-brainer!