Two Fantastic Games, One Brilliant SRPG

With the highly-anticipated games that have been announced by Atlus this year, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker looked to be a fun game that might hold me over until Persona 5 and Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem launch later this year. What I originally thought might be a fun diversion has turned into yet another one of my favorite games from this legendary Japanese publisher and developer. With an overwhelming collection of celebrated titles and a legacy of excellence, my expectations for this incredible team have continued to increase, and I have yet to be disappointed. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is a thoroughly captivating SRPG that is challenging, entertaining, and well worth your time and attention.

The first thing that newcomers and fans alike need to understand is what Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker (DS2RB) actually is. DS2RB is not just a repackaging of the original DS release from 2012; Record Breaker 2 is actually two RPGs combined into one. It is an enhanced version of the original DS2 with a fully-voiced story AND a full-length sequel that continues where the events of the original leave off. If you didn’t play the original, don’t worry! This will be a stand-alone story that allows new players to easily jump in without having played the original DS game, Devil Survivor, from 2009.

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Limited Launch Edition

With the updated original story (Septentriones) giving you 60+ hours of content, and the new content (Triangulum) giving you 40+ hours of content, you will definitely be getting your money’s worth with this collection. Plus, if you’re a story perfectionist like me, your play time will actually be way, WAY over those estimates. Whether you’re a veteran to this series or just coming on board, there is a lot here for you to enjoy. Bottom line, for only $49.99 you’re getting way more than your money’s worth with this great game.

Record Breaker has everything going for it, but as anyone who has played an Atlus game can attest, the story and characters will be one of the main highlights of the entire experience. What has always impressed me about Atlus’ writing team is how they manage to balance so many themes and emotions simultaneously. DS2RB is macabre and apocalyptic yet light-hearted and hilarious. One minute you’ll be flirting with a cute girl talking about bust sizes and the next you’ll be watching the world crumble and people get massacred by a swarm of demons. This dichotomy is one of many reasons why this game so engrossing and so much fun.

The story in DS2RB revolves around a world that is under siege by demons and god-like beasts that seek to destroy all of humanity. Cities burn and crumble while civilization seems to implode under the weight of the world’s demise. A mysterious mobile application has also appeared that gives people foresight into the deaths of others as well as the ability to control demons and fight back against their monstrous attackers. You must stand united with your friends and newfound colleagues in order to protect humanity is its darkest hour.

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The story is impressive and engaging as always with Atlus’ games, but what really stood out to me was the unique cast of characters. Atlus always knows how to create intriguing characters, so this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but I’m always astonished at how this developer continues to create such incredible and charming characters for their games. It must also be said that the voice acting is a huge reason why the cast is so effective in Record Breaker. It says a lot that Atlus is the one Japanese RPG developer where I don’t mind playing their games with the English voice acting. The team delivers a fantastic performance that really gets players invested in the narrative and makes the relationship aspect of DS2RB so much fun.

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A little levity amidst the chaos.

While fighting against the invading horde of demons and monsters, you will be building and strengthening relationships with your friends and new acquaintances. DS2RB utilizes the Fate System to help you guide those relationships to reach their maximum potential, thereby giving your team new collaborative abilities. Anyone who has played games like Persona 3 or 4 will be familiar with this gameplay feature, but it does work a little differently from what you might be accustomed to. Strengthening relationships isn’t quite as complex or time consuming as it is with games like Persona 4; it’s as simple as choosing to spend time with a particular person and navigating the correct conversation path, but how and when to spend your time can get quite complicated due to time constraints.

The Time System in Record Breaker adds an additional level of strategy to DS2RB. Each action in the game will take 30 minutes of your time, with the exception of Free Battles that are your basic source for grinding, but we’ll get to that later. Balancing your social life and mandatory events will be crucial to getting the best outcome in DS2RB. You will have to choose whether to spend time with others to grow your friendships or rush off to battle at a time that has been requested of you. If you’re late to an event or if you take too long to complete requests, the deaths of your friends and associates could be on your hands. If you think that means, “Game Over – Try Again,” then think again. If you lose comrades due to inadequate time management, then they are gone forever and you must continue the fight without them. Moreover, how you manage your time and relationships will directly affect the ending of the Septentriones story line, so spend your time wisely. You have to be smart about every decision you make in this game, because one wrong move could mean the demise of someone you love. This aspect of the game mostly affects the original story, Septentriones, so once you’ve moved on to the second story in DS2RB, Triangulum, time management will no longer be a concern as you will have much more freedom with the order of events without concerning yourself with consequences.

Be careful! Every event will cost you time.

Be careful! Every event will cost you time.

I love and hate the Time System in Record Breaker. On one hand, it provides a tension in the decision making that really keeps the narrative progression interesting, but it is difficult for players like me who want to hear every line of dialogue and enjoy every bit of dialogue available. The truth is that I wouldn’t change the way Atlus designed this aspect, but it can still be frustrating for people who obsess over the story like myself who want to find the right narrative progression for the perfect ending. Furthermore, with the amazing job that the writers and voice actors do in bringing the characters to life, I just don’t want to miss a single conversation or joke.

After you’re finished flirting, chitchatting, and running errands, it’s time to jump into battle. The skirmishes themselves are fairly straightforward turn-based fights, but the team options, setup, and skill-savvy enemies create deep an intricate gameplay that will really satisfy the hardcore strategists. Unlike Persona games where characters have set skills and abilities, DS2RB allows players to mix and match demons and each person’s or demon’s skills according to their own preferences. Any demon can be equipped to any character, and any character or demon can be equipped with any ability if you have found or unlocked that skill through skill cracking. The possibilities really are endless.

While this incredible amount of team customization is fantastic, the implementation for how this works isn’t exactly ideal. While it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the overall game, it can be a little tiresome to rearrange every character’s skills and demon companions before every battle depending on which characters are available. For example, if two characters are not selectable for a particular battle, then you will have to choose two other characters to take their place. Unfortunately, this means that the newly selected character will not have any of the skills that the unavailable characters had, so you will have to reselect every ability or skill and possibly rearrange your demon companions as well. Again, this small issue is one that you will quickly learn to deal with, but I wish the whole process could have been streamlined.

Chose your character's skills and demon companions wisely.

Choose your character’s skills and demon companions wisely.

The demon companions that you will take into battle are of course a classic feature in Atlus’ many franchises. I absolutely love how Atlus has utilized its demon compendium with so many of its titles while still managing to keep it fresh and exciting every time. In DS2RB, you will see many familiar adorable, horrifying, and hilarious faces as you collect, fuse, and purchase demons throughout the game. What sets this game apart is how you will attain these demons. In Persona 4, you find the demons while exploring dungeons and defeating enemies. In Shin Megami Tensei IV, you have to negotiate with the demons for them to join you. In this game, you actually have bid on demons against other demon tamers via an electronic auction through your phone. It may sound strange, but it makes sense when everything is explained in the story.

Study your fellow bidders to win every auction.

Study your fellow bidders to win every auction.

There really is a strange sense of satisfaction when you win a demon in a bid against imaginary bidders, and in contrast, a frustrating sense of loss when you lose a bid by a meager amount. I learned very quickly how to read the other bidders, and most importantly, I learned not to be a cheapskate. On a related note, I must recommend that you not neglect this important feature. As you progress throughout the game, don’t get lazy with buying and fusing demons as a weak team of demon companions can quickly lead to your demise as the difficulty increases. Also, while you may get attached to a cute or powerful demon, don’t be afraid to utilize them to create something new.

My one regret when playing Atlus’ games is that I have never quite been able to grasp the finer complexities of demon fusion and creation, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. I’ve always had a great time just fusing demons into whatever is the best result, but I do wish I could get someone to tutor me on higher-level fusions. Don’t get me wrong, the process is easy and is simple to use for casual gamers, but there is a more intricate level to this for advanced players who know how to get the most out of their fusions. One day, I hope I can become a real demon taming master. Gotta fuse ‘em all!

Bosses keep battles fresh and exciting.

Bosses keep battles fresh and exciting.

The battles in Record Breaker are set around the same basic principles as other SRPGs, but Atlus has done a terrific job in making each one exciting without the player ever getting burned out. Fights are challenging and fun with each scenario changing slightly and boss battles really adding a unique twist to the mix. I found it particularly fascinating that the demons in battles were so skill-savvy, especially when it comes to healing themselves and their demonic chums. I couldn’t help but to laugh when I would bring a powerful team of enemies to low life only to have their allies run over to throw 4 or 5 healing spells on them. For real, demons in this game will use heal skills like they’re going out of style. Thankfully, enemies are limited by their own MP (skill points) as well, so their heals, buffs, and debuffs are limited just like the player.

Player’s will also have other optional battles to participate in through Free Battles and DLC battles that can be purchased through Nintendo’s eShop. As previously mentioned, Free Battles are side-skirmishes that do not affect the Time System in DS2RB. Players are free to partake in as many Free Battles as they like to help level characters and demons. I highly recommend that you take your time to participate in these battles between main events as not doing so will leave you incredibly weak as the difficulty quickly increases. Trust me, I speak from tragic experience.

Creating new demons is always a blast.

Creating new demons is always a blast.

Players will also have the option to purchase DLC battles from the eShop that provide help to players who might want the extra assistance. While many publishers and developers have received a lot of negative press for their poor use of DLC in games, this is not the case with Record Breaker. These specialized battles are just available for players who want to power through the game and earn a lot of money, experience, or skills very quickly. You won’t be missing out on any story if you don’t pick up any of this extra content, but if you’re having a difficult time with DS2RB, you might want to look into these DLC battles.

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is a truly brilliant SRPG that really caught me off guard. What I thought would be a good game to merely occupy my time has turned out to be a spectacular experience that has become one of my favorite SRPGs of all time. While there are still some minor options and features that could be streamlined to be made more efficient, Record Breaker is still a superb experience that will speak to Atlus fans, SRPG fans, JRPG fans, or just anyone who loves a good story and great characters. I loved every moment of Record Breaker, and I can’t wait for more.

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Title: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker

Developer/Publisher: Atlus

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Genre: SRPG (Tactical RPG)

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

MSRP: $49.99

ESRB: T

SMT: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker Review
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is a fantastic SRPG that demands the attention of anyone who loves tactical RPGs or Japanese games in general. The gameplay is outstanding, the narrative is exciting, and the characters (including the English voice actors) are remarkable. With only very minor and easy to overlook flaws, this is one of the best SRPGs that I've ever played.
PROS
  • Fantastic characters, narrative, and voice acting.
  • Intricate and compelling tactical gameplay.
  • Complementary gameplay aspects are well balanced.
CONS
  • Some options and features could be streamlined and made more efficient.
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
0.0

About The Author

Derrick D
Editorial/Reviews Writer

Derrick has been an avid gamer since before he even started kindergarten. He is a video games enthusiast first and foremost and has a unconditional love for the gaming industry. His fun-loving personality, wide array of experiences, as well as his background in gaming and the film industry have helped him to develop a unique perspective that is always thoughtful and invariably entertaining.