October 19, 2011
Just like in the original, you play as the silent protagonist who travels inside Japan’s Yamanote circle to meet up with his cousin Naoya and some of his friends, Atsuro and Yuzu, during the Summer break. After being given handheld machines called COMPs the hero and his friends inadvertently flood the area with demons and later learn that everyone in the area of the circle only has a few days to live. While there is a general overarching storyline present, the choices that the player makes greatly affects the game and eventually decides which ending the player gets. It also determines who they tag along with in Overclocked’s new 8th Day post-game content exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS version. And for those who have played strategy RPGs before or know about how they sometimes have long, drawn out stories, you can rest easy as Devil Survivor’s story has a nice, brisk pace without feeling like it’s missing on the details as it progresses.
Being a strategy RPG the gameplay is a mix of turn-base movement and combat. During battles the top of the touch screen shows the current turn order for your characters and the enemies that litter the battlefield. Each battle has its own specific objectives ranging from preventing a character from dying to making sure everyone survives the battle. But unlike games such as Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre, attacking an enemy in Devil Survivor initiates a round of turn-based combat between you and the enemy. After selecting your team’s attacks each side has one round each, although extra turns for either side can be added by either being the first to initiate combat prior to the battle or attacking their weakness during battle.
There’s a certain element of strategy during battles as you can choose to defeat the leader in the middle to wipe out the entire opposing team, but this has the penalty of gaining less experience and Macca (the game’s currency), forcing the player to decide whether it's worth the risk possibly leaving the enemy alive another round in an effort to gain more experience. There’s a few other minor nuances such as Skill Cracking which lets a character learn a skill from the enemy as long as they are the ones to defeat them. The game’s battle system certainly is not easy as one wrong move can kill you quickly. But it certainly isn’t unfair in any regards as it’s your fault if you lose. Overclocked does have a new "Easy" difficulty which lowers the damage and increases the experience and Macca earned in battle, however, so newcomers should have a much easier time than they would playing the original Nintendo DS version of the game.
The voice overs are surprisingly good considering the sometimes awkward voice actor choices the series has had in the past. The voice quality doesn’t reach the levels of other Atlus releases, like Catherine, but the actors do match their respective character roles admirably. While they can be disabled if the player wishes they do add more to the game than they detract. The audio, one of the highlights of the original Nintendo DS version, returns just as you remembered it albeit a bit clearer due to the better audio processing and speakers found in the Nintendo 3DS.
The graphics, however, is one area where Nintendo 3DS owners who haven’t played the original might be let down. Since this is an “enhanced” port, the game wasn’t remade completely for the Nintendo 3DS or its new 3D graphics feature, so the acceptable graphics found in the original are only slightly enhanced for Overclocked’s outing. The art and backgrounds were spruced up slightly for the system’s larger resolution, however, so it does make the game look a lot cleaner than it originally did. Overclocked does add some 3D effects in the introduction movie and in instances such as fusing demons but it really doesn’t add much outside of some neat effects the first time you see it. Unlike some of the other existing titles for the platform there really isn’t any reason to leave the 3D effect on as the game sparingly uses it. Simply put, if you are looking for a game to show off the new 3D of your system you’re looking at the wrong title.
One of the key features of Overclocked outside of its new graphical refinement is the gameplay additions which are added in spades. Battle movement can now be speed up which is great for replays where you want to cut down on the time watching enemies move on the map. New achievements similar to Trophies on the PS3 or Achievements on the Xbox 360 are present which unlock after fulfilling certain conditions. An additional save slot was also added from the original version’s two and multiple new demons and skills were added which weren’t present in the Nintendo DS version.
The primary new addition, the 8th day scenarios, adds a decent amount of new content to the game but some might be annoyed at the fact that not every path in the game has one. This makes sense from a story perspective but fans of the paths that were left out might be a tad annoyed once they complete the game and find out it ended just as it did before. One other important addition present in previous Shin Megami Tensei and Persona titles, the Compendium, makes its return here. Instead of having to go through the costly and time-consuming process of acquiring demons at the game’s auction and fusing them they can be registered to the compendium for later retrieval. This cuts down the time required immensely and is easily one of the best additions to the port for veterans.
Simply put, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked is the definitive version of Devil Survivor and offers enough new enhancements for a repeat trip. Veterans will appreciate the new 8th day scenarios and the demon compendium which greatly reduces the time investment needed in the later parts of the game. Newcomers will also find a game that is much more easier to approach thanks to its new Easy difficulty and streamlined interface. It may not utilize all the aspects of the Nintendo 3DS but its easily one of the best titles for the system at the moment.