Month: April 2012

Eden Eternal’s Cash Shop: Free to Play With a Side of Gambling

So I’ve been getting back into the swing of things with Eden Eternal over this past week, and while I surely don’t know everything, I feel like I am starting to get a handle on some aspects of the game.

I’ve mostly been focusing on my character that was already 39; once I hit 40, I swapped her from her previous Thief class to the Martial Arts class that unlocks at level 40. Since I finally achieved that goal (I’ve had my eye on Martial Arts since the moment I created her), I’ve mostly been working on leveling up her new class, getting her to 43 so that I could craft her some new gear, and doing my best to play the market enough that I could score her some decent cash shop gear as well. Today, I’m going to talk exclusively about the cash shop goodies – what they are, and the different ways to obtain them, and what I think about the whole setup (spoilers: just read the post topic).

So basically, there are special AP (Aeria Points) costumes, pets, and mounts. Now, when I say ‘costumes’, I’m going to be referring to all of the looks-changing items that cover up your basic, in-game gear. So “costumes” = AP boosting items that work in tandem with, not replacing, your in-game weapons and armors.

The items with diamond toggles near them are costumes - your actual stat-boosting gears are the things listed below them.

For costumes, it seems that most items are one of three ranks – basic (ie, just the costume – it will change your looks but nothing else), Alpha (will give a small boost, for example +5% critical damage from a certain Alpha rank back item), and the coveted Prime (the highest boost, so continuing the example that I gave for the alpha, it would be +10% crit damage for the same back item with a Prime rank). Since, as you can probably guess, the Prime rank items are the most in demand, they’re also the hardest to obtain as well as the priciest.

Look at all this cool stuff that I can't afford!

Now, as a note, if you’re solely interested in the looks and don’t really care about getting an alpha or prime version of a costume, then I’d suggest that you look into the Alpaca Capsule Machines in Tranquil Hill. It’s slightly more labor intensive than just AP spending your way to fashion victory, but the quests that give you the Alpaca Tokens do also reward you with Experience, Class Points, and money, so it’s not a bad deal at all. The rewards are random, of course, but you can end up with plenty of other handy things, like pet food or safety stones, even if you don’t get the costume you wanted on your very first try. You can read more about the Alpaca Capsule Machines & Tokens here, since I don’t really see the need to just reiterate what’s already a perfectly good guide.

Because even adorable anime fantasy worlds can't escape the lure of gambling.

In regards to pets, each type of pet has its basic form that can’t participate in combat, but can still pick up loot for you… but there are also many other forms of each “base” pet that give a wide range of combat abilities and player boosts. For example, if you look in the Pets/Mounts section of the current Item Mall, you can see the differences (in both abilities and price points) illustrated very clearly. The basic Himalayan Cat, at 499 AP, does nothing beyond pick up your drops and follow you around looking cute. The “Brave” Himalayan Cat’s cost jumps up to 2999 AP, and it gives the player a +10% Crit Dmg boost as well as giving the pet the ability to join in combat with basic attacks. The “Robust” Himalayan Cat, at a whopping 4999 AP, gives the same boosts as the Brave as well as having a higher durability (100/100 as opposed to the 50/50 – when the pet’s dura reaches 1, you either have to feed it or it can no longer be used in combat) and some special skills of its own (Ambush and Swift Attack, in this specific case). So as you can see, differences in abilities translate to VERY large price jumps in this game.

Adopt a virtual cat for almost $50 USD. The fact that it's not much less than a real cat's adoption fee is... either sad or funny, idk which.

It’s the same with mounts. Various mounts have different movement speeds – the basic alpaca freebie mount that the game gives you only has a 15% movement boost, as opposed to cash shop mounts like the Stalwart Sabretooth, while will run you 6999 AP (yes, that’s $69.99 in USD) in exchange for a 50% movement boost. There are also rarer mounts – things like dragons that can carry multiple people or seasonally-themed mounts like pumpkin stagecoaches for Halloween – that command very high in-game prices due to their ‘rarity whore’ appeal.

It’s worth noting that most of the desirable or limited-time weapons and costumes and such can’t actually be purchased straight from the Item Mall: to get what you want, you’re going to need either a lot of a luck or a lot of AP, since obtaining the newest items requires a whole lot of gambling.

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Fez Roh Dah!

As you could tell by the title, I wanna shout about Fez for a bit, the new Xbox Live Arcade game by Phil Fish and the others at Polytron. Fez has been making all sorts of waves recently, given its storied, troubled background and the slightly, let’s say, incendiary comments Fish made on the creativity inherent in the current Japanese game development community, or apparent lack thereof.

It’d be all too easy for me to turn it around (so to speak) on Fez and talk about how puzzle platformers with a cutesy retro approach and at least one central gimmick is hardly a soapbox from which to deride the lack of creativity of others, but instead of doing that (or, I guess, concurrently with doing that), I’ll go on record to say that Fez is pretty great.

Protagonist Gomez, pre-hatwear.

One’s first playthrough of Fez is the sort of low-hassle Indie platformer we’ve all experienced a few times before, whether you’re a fan of Braid or PB Winterbottom or have spent any amount of time in Newgrounds‘ games section or Kongregate or Armor Games (all great time-waster sites, incidentally). The collectible cubes are lying around the topography waiting for you to figure out how to spin the world around in such a way to form a path to them. The universe is spread out as cuboid nodes on a map, so there’s some degree of Metroidvania-esque exploration to be done though the many branching areas. Otherwise, it’s a rather simple jaunt through a series of very pretty pixel worlds, which are filled with nice little graphical details such as cute pixel animals hopping around and a sky changing color as it slowly goes through a day/night cycle.

It’s the other half of the game where things start getting cerebral. The player will have encountered several rooms that, instead of presenting its golden prize from the offset, will require a puzzle of some sort to be solved beforehand. Doing so awards you “anti-cubes”, which are just as plentiful as their regular counterparts but far harder to find. These puzzles require you decrypt the in-game language, decipher the meaning behind oft-spotted glyphs formed of tetranimos (which are, as all gamers know, the shapes from Tetris) and occasionally go a little meta such as manipulating the console clock and using a QR code reader (though it’s purported that the QR puzzles have alternate solutions found elsewhere in-game for those without that technology).

The 2D worlds are actually 3D. But I won't tell if you don't!

Fez likes to envelop itself in mystery, possibly to prompt the sort of “what does this mean?” viral promotion that has, inevitably, surfaced from how vague some of the puzzle leads have been. A cynical viewpoint, perhaps, but it’s not hard to mistake intent given how successful it’s been in spreading awareness for the game.

So, ultimately, what am I saying about Fez? It’s a fine game, is what. It’s expansive for an Indie game, but not expensive. It’s colorful, cartoonish and bright, but also thoughtful, deep and subdued. It has the sort of metaphysical aspirations in puzzle design that the Myst games had prior (and Fool’s Errand prior to that), and given Fez’s predilection for gloriously rendered yet hauntingly lonely environs as well it’s clear Fish is a proponent of the Miller bros’ CD-ROM epic.

It doesn’t feel like a brand new paradigm in gaming, but rather a layered homage to one man’s fondest game experiences. I’d say that’s perhaps more than enough reason for anyone to want to share the experience, especially for only 800 MS points. Buy some below, and maybe use the other half for something less cute? Like Doom 2 perhaps.

Exploring the World of Eden Eternal

I have sort of a weird relationship with X-Legend’s Eden Eternal – I initially started playing it when it first launched because Aeria Games, who at the time hosted another game that I was really involved with, was entering every player who got to level 30 into a raffle to win something along the lines of 1,000,000 AP, which is what their cash shop points are called. Sadly, I didn’t win, but I did get my character to level 30 within the correct time frame. Of course, once I hit that milestone, I went back to my other game and sort of forgot about EE for months upon months. I picked it up again around Halloween – out of the blue, I just got a desire to start playing again – and played semi-regularly until around the New Year, when once again, the other game started hogging all my attention again.

I found myself wanting to check back into the world of Eden Eternal again this week, and so redownloaded the client and found quite a few changes already apparent: they’d merged all of their smaller servers into two “megaservers” (which means that I need to rename one of my charas – orz) and added a huge amount of content.

Wide-eyed, super-cute and purple-haired, I'm ready to explore all the new Eden Eternal content!

I haven’t yet gotten to explore most of the new stuff, as I spent most of yesterday just getting reacquainted with the controls and interface and remembering what the hell I’d been up to the last time that I’d played. It turns out that I’d been one level away from being able to unlock the Fighter Class, which is the class that had most interested me initially. Of course, they have added a number of classes since the last time I’d played, so I’ll have to look into those as well – the nice thing about EE is that you can swap between all unlocked classes freely, without losing your progress in any class. So while I’m super excited to try out my finally-attained Fighter abilities, I’m sure that I’ll eventually try out all the other new skill sets as well!

My adorable, for-this-review-only Halfkin just unlocked the Cleric class!

Anyhow, all this is to say – I’m going to be exploring Eden Eternal again over the next few weeks and probably posting a few rambling posts about the game. I’m planning on both continuing my original character, since she’s level 40 already, as well as making a new character to check out and refresh my memory in regards to the early levels of the game. So if you’re at all interested in super-cute, anime-style MMOs, watch this space~

Until next time, I'll be dance emote spamming~

Some (Tidal Wave) Blah Blah Blah About Tales of Vesperia

I guess it’s a weird coincidence that both Sarah and I were playing a Tales game when this whole thing began, but our tastes only really seem to run parallel when there’s Eggbears to threaten or balls to love.

Case in point.

That said, I recently finished my first playthrough of Namco Tales Studios’ perhaps most widely well-received entry in their long running Tales franchise: Tales of Vesperia. Following the adventures of a former knight turned vigilante, Yuri Lowell, as he brings together a ragtag team of oddballs and saves the world from some vaguely threatening sky jellyfish thing (though not the friendly sky jellyfish thing that carries the city of Myorzo around). I guess that’s not particularly descriptive, given the similarities to every JRPG ever, but it’s not really the story that drives these games. I’m of the mindset that, if you want a good story, you might want to check a bookshelf. Not to be too reductive, of course, since the medium is still developing, but Tales and the other superior RPG franchises tend to exceed in areas that books cannot follow.

Which is to say, Tales’ strength is in the player agency of developing their characters: Each have their own little side-quests and backstories which you, as the player, can choose to chase down and complete. You see little conversations play out after certain story beats, but also occasionally to congratulate themselves for a task well done or a particularly difficult move (such as the series’ overly grandiose Mystic Artes). There’s something rewarding about having your team of JRPG archetypes (I kid; they play around with some very standard concepts, let’s say) discuss what just happened, or what you just did. It’s a staple of the Tales series that you can get as much or as little commentary from your team as you wish, in those optional little “talking heads” moments.

The other staple being, of course, the LMB System, which finds itself updated (or simplified, in the case of the handheld iterations) in every new Tales game. The LMB System – short for the Linear Motion Battle System – is how Tales presents its combat: It’s a real-time brawl set in a Fighter game type mold, where you and your target share the same 2D plane (it helps if you consider that you and the opponent are standing on the same tangent cutting through the 3D playing field) and you can pull of special moves (or “artes”) by combining the special attack button and an analog-stick direction. You can fully customize what artes are assigned where, as well as some degree of real-time control over your teammates, either by setting their general tactics beforehand or having specific artes of theirs mapped to the other analog-stick. Though the fights are fittingly chaotic, there are a suite of options presented to personalize your chosen fighting style, which you are given ample advancements towards thanks to a plethora of mostly passive skills, which the character learns from weapons they’re attached to much like Final Fantasy 9’s spin on learning new abilities. While it sounds complex, it’s a system these games have used since their very inception, so anyone who has played a game in this series can easily get to grips with any changes. If all else fails, you can run forward and mash the attack button: It’s more effective than you’d think. It’s advice that’s served me well whenever I find myself playing Tekken, at least.

Vesperia is probably the longest I’ve ever spent with a Tales game (it’s also the newest one I’ve played, so maybe there’s some correlation there), so that’s probably a commendation in and of itself. But let’s try a little harder than that: The mark of a good JRPG is one where you are fully engaged in the experience – whether that’s watching a gloriously rendered anime cutscene or rolling through a dungeon mostly free of any sort of narrative element. It’s a tough juggling act: Without a worthy narrative, the fighting is without context and feels pointless; without decent combat, the story is just too much of a chore to bother pursuing.

While Tales rarely leaves its comfort zone, never having the sort of wild swings that the Final Fantasy series might from game to game, it has created and perfected a model that works. It’s a fantastic series that I never mind revisiting from time to time.

JRPGs never skimp on spectacle, do they?

Tales of Graces f: Some Thoughts, Part One

First things first, I’ll just get this out of the way – this isn’t a full, proper review of Tales of Graces f, because I haven’t been able to finish the game yet! Not by choice, of course – if I had my way, I’d be living and breathing this game. But I’m (hopefully only temporarily) separated from my PS3, and thus my adventures on Ephinea have to be put on hold for a bit. Insert all my QQ ever right here, cause I am totally sad about this turn of events =(

This is a pretty accurate description of how I feel about the game right now. I NEED MY FIX!

I am extremely close to finishing the Main Arc, though – I’m just running through a bunch of sidequests before tackling the final dungeon. After that, it’s on to the Future Arc (the “f” part of the game) and then back to the Main Arc to tackle the delicious bonus dungeon. I hear that you get to fight butlers in there, which means that it’s going to be the best thing ever, basically.

Anyhow, on to some random ramblings about the game, since even if I can’t play it right now, it’s still totally devouring my brain.

I just felt like this was as good a place as any for an image of watermelon heads. #1 attachment fo life.

First of all, I make no secret that my favorite Tales Of game – and really, probably my favorite video game overall – is Tales of Legendia. This still stands, but I think it’s safe to say that Graces has edged out Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Destiny for my #2 favorite Tales spot. It’s just that excellent.

For me, the best part of the game is the newly tweaked combat system – given that I’ve always preferred running high agility characters in these games who can sweep in, unleash an attack, then be across the battlefield before the enemy can retaliate, it’s really no surprise that I’m absolutely in love with the system of dodges, guards, and quick-steps that Graces has introduced. Here’s a particularly Cheriawesome example of how useful those dodges can be:

Every time the game popped up a CC+whatever message, that meant that Cheria had successfully dodged a part of that rather OP attack. And given that many bosses have single artes that can easily nuke your entire party unless you’re quick with the dodge function, it’s a good thing that using it is so damned fun. I can’t even lie, I’d have battles where I’d waste so much time just evading every single attack and laughing at the poor little enemies trying to touch me because I found it so entertaining!

As for what exactly CC is, it’s basically the replacement for TP/MP. Instead of moves costing mana or tech points, the moves you use depend on how much CC you have stored up. Successfully dodging, guarding, and comboing can all restore CC; you can also increase your minimum or maximum CC by dualizing Rise and Exceed shards into your weapons and armor. At the very beginning of the game, you may find yourself constantly running out of CC, at least with some characters (for example, I found my beloved Pascal sort of weird to handle until I’d increased her CC range a bit more), but don’t worry – that problem takes care of itself very quickly, especially with the addition of the B arte tree once you clear the Childhood Arc and get control of adult Asbel and Malik in the Main Arc’s first dungeon.

And if you don't make Malik and Asbel the unstoppable Box Brothers, you are doing it wrong.

The two arte trees are another fun addition, or at least I think so. The A arte tree is based on CC – depending on the amount of CC you’ve got in your tank, as well as which way you’re aiming the joystick, you’ll perform various artes that combo perfectly into each other. The B arte tree, on the other hand, is much more classic Tales – you map specific artes to various directions, and activate them by holding the joystick in the desired direction and pressing the B arte button. Most characters can swap between the two freely, with Asbel as the one exception. It’s okay, though – his “extra step” is a damaging sheathing/unsheathing, so it’s not like you’re leaving yourself open or breaking a combo. Also worth noting are that A artes are based off your physical, or P ATK stat, and B artes are based off your cryas, or C ATK stat. So it’s important to raise both stats on every character, unlike previous games where you could focus on either Physical or Magic stats.

At the end of this particular A-Arte combo, Sophie apparently joins Cruxis or something.

Speaking of skills, you don’t learn them via leveling up in Graces. Instead, you are constantly earning titles – not really a new thing – except that in this game, titles are used for far more than just a minor stat boost or costume change. Each title has a basic boost – for example, something like giving you a resistance to a certain status ailment as long as that title is equipped – as well as 5 ranks, and each rank will unlock some sort of boost – whether it’s a new arte, a status boost like increased CC or HP or ATK/DEF, or a costume. You rank up by earning SP, which is obtained after every battle and as a reward for doing sidequests. Once you’ve unlocked all five ranks, you can also make the decision to “master” the title, which will enhance the basic title boost. I personally found the title system both easy and engaging, but the game does offer an automated title management feature for those of you who don’t want to worry about it all. Congratulations, you have now earned the “Total Lazyass” title!

Cheria and Pascal demonstrate part of the title-leveling system. They're so helpful!

This is getting pretty long, so the last thing I’ll talk about today is the Mystic Artes/Eleth Gauge system, since places like YouTube and GameFAQs tend to get flooded by people wanting to know how to perform all the super-shiny cut-in mega-attacks. It’s pretty simple, though, so don’t worry. You unlock your Mystic Artes through titles, just like everything else (with the exception of Pascal – her 2nd and 3rd level MAs are unlocked via poking around the Sable Izole laboratory and fighting a fake treasure box on Mt. Zavhert, which enables her to have all three of her Main Arc specials way before the rest of the party – further proof that Pascal is just awesome). Then once you enter an Eleth Rise (basically what was previously known as overlimit – you’ve got a gauge that raises during battles or via using certain consumables), you have the ability to unleash your Mystic Artes (the particular MA that you activate depends on the level on the Eleth Gauge during the Rise – to use Pascal again as an example, 1 will activate her Emerald Strike, 2 will activate Sapphiring Squad, and 3 will trigger Ruby Inferno) and/or use all A and B artes without any CC cost. Basically, Eleth Rise means that you have a free pass to rain down a whole lotta hurt! Once again, here’s Pascal demonstrating – you can see her trigger Ruby Inferno, and then, since the Eleth Gauge went back up to 1 during her first MA, she’s able to instantly trigger Emerald Strike as well, before the timer runs out. Nice, right?

The other side of the coin is Eleth Break. When this happens, the enemy gets the exact same abilities as you would during a Rise: the ability to use special and Mystic Artes if they have them, and the ability to freely combo the hell out of your face. My advice? If the screen turns yellow, run away from the enemy and get ready to dodge, because you’re probably about to get nuked if you don’t pay attention! Especially a certain mid-boss that loves to spam Killing Field. She’s got my favorite voice acting and design of the game thus far, but after a few of her Eleth Breaks, even I was ready to just let her die. With that said, the feeling you get when you first manage to dodge an entire Killing Field? Bad. Ass.

Hell yes, we're the best. TAKE THAT, KILLING FIELD.

Anyhow, that’s enough for now. Since I’ve gone over most of the basic combat mechanics in this post, I’ll bring this entry to a close. Expect more posts tackling other aspects of the game, because oh my goodness do I have a whole lotta feels about this amazing game. To finish this one up, here’s a pretty nice, spoiler-free sample of what combat looks like in Tales of Graces f. It’s a non-plot related cameo fight against Kohak from Tales of Hearts, brought to you by omegaevolution and Hubert the combo machine~

You can purchase Tales of Graces f for the PS3 here. Do it up!

Oh Hey, I Didn’t See You There! (And Other Not-Great Ways of Introducing Oneself)

I’m the other writer for this site, Mento. You (probably) might (not) know me from my work on Giant Bomb, creating all manner of wonderful blog and listicle content that is roundly ignored by everyone. While I’m doing that, I also play video games. Like Gamer Hero #1 (Gaming Heroine?) Sarah, I’m a devotee of goofy JRPGs with 80 hour long playtimes, but I also play a whole lot of other nonsense too. And boy howdy, nonsense doesn’t even begin to cover some of the games I’ve played this year.

I don’t want to regurgitate my Giant Bomb stuff, but I will link to it on occasion, just in the off-chance you haven’t had your weekly Mento fill. What I’ll mostly do here is talk about games I’ve recently beaten, games I have no intention of playing further and games which may not even exist yet. Which I guess just means I’ll speculate on them, since I can’t predict the future with my brain powers (yet). I can’t really speak to what tone I tend to use, but if it needs any pepping up I will not hesitate to start wearing shades indoors and turn my cap around if I feel the situation calls for such drastic measures. Yes, I’m that dedicated. I draw the line at Mountain Dew though.

So while I’m here doing an introductory thing, I’ll talk about the games I’ve played so far this year. Catch you all up, as it were. Don’t want to go on too long though, so these are the briefest of recaps – I’ll probably do something more in-depth for future ones.

Bastion – Started the year with this Indie banger. I say banger because it has a bunch of hammers and guns in it. No, don’t get up, I’ll see myself out. Hop on XBLA or Steam and check it out, if you haven’t already. It’s a custom to give props to the taciturn Greg Kasavin if you’re any sort of wannabe games journalist.

WarioWare Inc. – This was a result of being one of those suckers who bought the Nintendo 3DS at full cost. As that link will attest to, the price is now very reasonable ¬†and there are many fine games available for it. Neither of those facts were true when I bought it though, so Nintendo was nice enough to send me the first WarioWare game and a bunch of other GBA games I already own. It is the thought that counts, I’ve heard.

Xenoblade Chronicles – Now this is some awesomesauce in a squeezy bottle, right here. This huge JRPG from the developers of the earlier Xeno- games is every bit as good as you’ve heard, as long as you don’t glut on the side-questing. Just chill and enjoy the sights, music and story about humans fighting evil robots on a couple of long-dead colossi at your own pace. You’ll be glad you did.

Super Mario 3D Land – One of those aforementioned “fine games” that have made the 3DS less of an embarrassing failure in recent months. It’s a step back in many respects, but as a solid flagship Mario game you can’t really go wrong picking it up. Nintendo probably needs to develop some new IPs already, but it sure knows what to do with the ones it has. They’ve had plenty of practice after all.

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – While I’m usually content to leave the fencing to Link, since my take on swordfighting with the Wiimote generally more closely resembles an interpretative dance about how painful it would be to be cremated alive than it does actual swordplay, Skyward Sword has plenty going for it. Like Mario, it’s not really something Nintendo can afford to mess up, so they don’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if they took the next one in a completely different direction though: People are no longer as enamoured with motion controls as they once were. Which isn’t to say they cared back then either, really.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective – This cracking puzzler (that was an awfully hack-y combination of words) follows pointy-haired, clearly Japanese creation Sissel as he uncovers the mystery behind his own death. It’s a point-and-click adventure game model taken to some really weird places and I loved it to pieces. While you could pick up the version I linked to, there’s a recent iOS port that I hear is very good too.

Majin & The Forsaken Kingdom – One of the many times I’ll play catch-up with the games of yesteryear, Majin is one of those character action games like God of War, but with more emphasis on teamwork and friendship and less on pulling vital parts of a monster’s anatomy out through their noses with your bare hands. It’s horses for courses, really, though the game is great for how cheap it is now.

The Last Story – I probably should cover this in more detail, but I’ve already written pretty much everything that I want to say about this new Mistwalker Wii JRPG over on Giant Bomb. I did make a (possibly spurious) claim that I wouldn’t regurgitate too much of what I do over there, but if you’re curious about this game I’d suggest reading my review. Short version? It’s worth your time.

Asura’s Wrath – Asura’s Wrath is worth your time too, though it won’t ask for much of it. I guess the best description I can give you is if a bunch of anime directors wanted to make something even crazier than Dragon Ball Z and then at the last second turned it into a video game. It’s all QTEs and basic Koei-type brawling, but the sheer insane spectacle is what elevates it.

Mass Effect 3 – We ought to make ourselves the most fashionable gaming blog on the net and just talk at length about the ending and how disappointing it is. I’m sure that is something people would enjoy reading at this juncture. 100% certain, in fact. The rest of the game is good times though, especially how it wraps up some of the smaller threads you’ve been following since the first game, like the Krogan’s Genophage and the Quarian/Geth dispute. Just… I don’t know, don’t dwell on a certain negative aspect of that game for more than is healthy.

Deadly Creatures – This post is way too long. Isn’t it way too long? I better stop before I hit 1000 words or something ridiculous. Oh, this game? It has bugs and stuff. The platforming is actually kind of cool.¬†Vertiginous, but in a good way. Buy it? For Dennis Hopper? He played King Koopa in a movie, you know, so he’s kind of a big deal to gamers. I actually did say that with a straight face, but I guess it doesn’t translate well in text.

So, I Just Finished Devil Survivor 2…

It took me awhile to get through it (mostly due to IRL stuff distracting me from all games for awhile), but today I finally finished my first playthrough of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2. That last battle was no joke – I had to do the whole cycle of failing horribly, grinding out a few more levels and new demons, then trying again, rinse repeat. I finally succeeded with my party being around level 72/73, with lots of MP regen passives, auto & demon racial skills to help everyone make it through all three rounds of the last boss fight =P

I won’t be a jerk and post any specific spoilers, but if you’ve played the previous Devil Survivor (which I really recommend – it’s probably my most-played SMT game), this iteration follows the same basic pattern: after a sudden and huge disaster in Tokyo, the protagonist and his friends are given a new and mysterious ability to summon and both fight alongside and against demons (via a strange website called Nicaea that allows you to see people’s deaths before they happen), as well as the eventual ability to oversee a rebirth of the world as you know it (via an even stranger plot involving the Big Dipper). You’re given multiple paths for that last part, so if you enjoy the game at all, you’ll probably find yourself replaying a few times to see all of the various endings.

I chose to remake the world as a true meritocracy, not really because my ideals actually matched Yamato’s (each path has a sort of “leader” that you ally yourself with – Yamato Hotsuin was the one who recruits the player for the meritocracy path), but mostly because my beloved Fumi Kanno joined his faction at the end. She’s basically the magical atomic bomb of your roster, so I’d been using her ever since she first joined and didn’t want to lose her! Plus, her character is amazing. If Fumi was a dude and a real person, I’d totally have a giant crush on her-him. Super intelligent, a snarky sense of humour and no patience for idiots – my kind of person! She’s very reminiscent of the first game’s Naoya, only without his plot twists. And I did love me some Naoya, so I guess there’s really no surprise that I wanted to keep Fumi around at all costs.

My fears were pointless, though, since apparently if you did enough of a character’s sub-events, it’s possible to recruit them to your cause anyway (which was good, otherwise I would’ve been all QQ about losing the physical juggernaut of my squad, Jungo Torii). So learn from my mistakes and just pick the ending you want to see the most, since as long as you’ve paid enough attention to your teammates (and, of course, don’t allow them to die if you get a ‘death clip’ of them during the game), you won’t be permanently separated from anyone.

That’s something that I should mention, I suppose. Taking a page from the Persona games, each possible teammate has something called “Fate” – you can raise their Fate level by hanging out with them, doing sub-events and getting to know them. Each Fate rank – and there are five – gives you a new benefit, whether it’s increasing the character’s resistance to a certain element in battle, or unlocking the ability to fuse a special demon partner. So it’s definitely worthwhile to pursue, both for learning more about the characters you like and for unlocking all those demons and other boosts!

As for the rest of the gameplay, it’s largely the same as its precursor. You have four teams of two demons and one human each, and you can freely allocate unlocked skills (which you learn by “cracking” them in battle – so basically, the human team members cannot learn a skill until you’ve faced an enemy with said skill) to the human members. You’re given a pretty large roster of human team members to choose from, so you can create your ideal team leaders pretty easily with the variety of stat growths and skills to choose from. The demon partners are, as is usually the case in SMT games, created via fusion. You can buy bare-bones versions of demons from the “demonic auction house” accessible from the menu, but fused demons will always be far more powerful if you have even the smallest understanding of the process. Mixing and matching your fused demons and customized team members to support each other’s strengths and weaknesses will allow each team unit to be able to survive – no pun intended – whatever the enemy throws their way.

Like I said, if you’ve played the first Devil Survivor, you will already be intimately familiar with the battle system in this game as well. That being said, there are some minor differences when it comes to combat: auto skills no longer cost MP (thank the Lord), demon racial skills can evolve into more awesome, beefed up versions of themselves, the addition of agility-based physical skills – just small things like that, for the most part.

I did launch a New Game+ already – because I already want to replay the game, I enjoyed it that much – and did notice that there are some significant differences in that respect. Basically, the NG+ system has gotten an awesome upgrade. It’s similar now to the Tales Of Series and its GRADE system: based on things you did during your playthrough, you earn Titles (similar to Achievements or Trophies, basically). Each Title gives you a number of points that can be spent to unlock bonuses for your next playthrough. You can purchase both expected things like carrying over your macca or a specific end-game demon without having to pay to resummon it, but there are also more interesting things to spend your points on: unlocking NG+ only boss battles and demon fusions, for example. So yes, even more reason to replay!

So yeah, it’s pretty safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 and am looking forward to getting started on my new game plus goodness. I’m also planning to make some more posts about the game, not reviews, just random thoughts I had on some of the characters/mechanics, so I guess look forward to that?

We don’t really have any sort of rating system implemented here, so I’ll just say that I give this game a big, fat, “YES, GO BUY IT NOW PLEASE AND THANK YOU”.