Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon was a tiring experience. Even saying the game’s full name is a life draining ordeal. Unlike with many of my other purchases, I walked into Devil Summoner 2 without any prior research; I placed my faith into Atlus after my wonderful romps through Persona 3 and 4. I though to myself “What was the worst that could happen?” Well, allow me to regale you with a tale of how my blind faith lead me astray.
Upon boot up it was clear that I wasn’t going to get the same high quality presentation found in the Persona games. The tempered CG intro lacked the style and confidence. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but upon reflection I realized it was a precursor of what things to come.
Devil Summoner 2 suffered from a dangerous combination of lacking of voiceovers and having an abundance of bland dialog. The heavy use of Japanese names for characters, places and customs didn’t help the matter either. And to think they even tried to skew all this nonsense with some pseudo country bumpkin accent. I know these yokels are from rural Japan, “yew” didn’t have emphasize it.
Atlus also needed to pick up the pacing. I was surprised to discover I only spent 39 hours with Devil Summoner 2; it seemed like twice that amount. Persona 4‘s murder mystery angle was unexpected and I loved it every minute of it. So I was bewildered to discover that Devil Summoner 2, a game which had detectives as lead characters, was so uninteresting and boring. By the time anything resembling a plot twist arrived, I just didn’t care anymore.
Instead of drawing from the 1920′s setting for narrative inspiration, Atlus focused on “luck draining” locusts and how an old clan of assassin’s needed said locusts in order to prosper even though they’re forbidden from using them in their assassinations. Why? Why even bother with all this gibberish if the clan cannot even utilize these cherished items? In the end, I simply couldn’t get into the drivel they were weaving.
The combat reminded me a lot of Crisis Core mixed with Pokemon — after all, this wouldn’t be a Shin Megami Tensei game without demons to use and fuse. I kept one slot reserved for a healing demon and the other for whatever demon was required at the time. Demons were also involved with the investigation and roaming aspects of the game. However, I didn’t feel this mechanic added anything to the game aside from forcing me to keep at least one of every demon type on my roster. I would have much preferred the option to teach these investigation moves to the demon of my choice.
A “MAG meter” dictated the amount of special attacks my demons and I could use which really put a damper on fights. I didn’t have any real MAG recovery options aside from exploiting enemy weaknesses which meant I was playing super conservatively throughout the game. As a result, the rudimentary hacking and slashing began to take its toll on my patience. Accelerating this will breaking process were the pre-rendered backdrops and random battles. I don’t mind random battles, but when I’m triggering random battles more frequently because I’m fumbling with sudden shifts with camera angles: it’s irritating. I haven’t experienced these kinds of problems since the original PlayStation era. Come on, Atlus! It’s not 1997.
And that’s how I ultimately feel about this game. Much of the core components felt dated, broken and was a determent to the game as I progressed. There wasn’t a single element of Devil Summoner 2 which I could say that I thoroughly enjoyed.
There was a side quest in the game which had a Raiho demon complimenting itself over the improvements which were made to appease its fans. Perhaps these changes did make this sequel a better game, but coming from the high of Persona 4: Devil Summoner 2 proved to be a rude awakening for me.
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