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Developer:
Atlus
Publisher: Atlus
Platform: PS2
Release Date: October 11, 2005

by Josh Ferguson




Serph and the other members of the Embryon tribe have survived the Junkyard and made it to "Nirvana". Little do they know, the "Nirvana" that they've fought so hard for doesn't exist, and they are now in the real world, filled with even more death and horror than the group could ever have imagined.


The first thing you will notice when you pop Digital Devil Saga 2 into your PlayStation 2 console, is an opening cinema of Serph walking down the streets of the real world, in search of his "comrades". Due to what has been called the Cuvier's Syndrome, any human who should come in contact with the rays of the now black sun is transformed into a stone-like substance. Bodies of those infected fill the streets, while the survivors have fled to the underground. While deadly to any human, the rays of the sun seem to have no effect on Serph and the other tuners (anyone able to transform into a demon).


When the actual gameplay begins, Heat, Cielo and Sera are nowhere to be seen, while the remaining members of the Embryon have taken shelter in the undergrounds, devising a plan to discover what happened to the rest of their "comrades". While you do so, members of the Karma Temple flood the streets in search of the members of the Embryon tribe. In order to safely find the remaining members of the Embryon, Serph and the others team up with one of the underground groups known as the Lokapola.


While Digital Devil Saga 2 features all of the same playable characters of the original, it also incorporates two more to the cast, including Roland, the leader of the Lokapola, and Sera. Both characters are able to transform into demons and have their own strengths and weaknesses. While Sera's demonic form is very similiar to that of Serph's, blades and all, Roland features a more unique character with his own weakness and stats.


For a character to learn different skills and abilities, they must download different mantras from karma terminals. In order to download a mantra, you must first have enough money to purchase it. The price of each mantra can vary and normally the higher-leveled mantras are the more expensive ones. When a character obtains enough atma points, the skills on the currently equipped mantra will be obtained.


While the mantra grid might seem difficult to understand, it is actually quite simple. First of all, the currently equipped mantra will be highlighted in yellow, while the available mantras will be in blue. As a character masters one ability, other abilities that are adjacent from that one become available. Also, on the mantra grid there are several purple hexagons. These are secret mantras that can only be unlocked if the surrounding abilities have been mastered.


The combat system in Digital Devil Saga 2 is for the most part exactly the same as the original, in which you search for an enemy's weakness and then use your abilities to try and exploit it. For example, all of your characters and enemies will have some sort of weakness. If your party can exploit that weakness, battles will become easier for many reasons. Not only will exploiting a weakness normally do more damage, but sometimes will also allow your characters to have an extra turn or two. Located in the top right corner of the battle screen are the amount of attack turns that the combatants have. Not only does it show the amount of attack turns for your characters, but also for your enemies. As a character attacks, one of these attack turns will be removed. However, if a character attacks with a skill that the receiver is weak against, this normally will add an extra attack turn to the list.


While characters in the original game had two different forms they could take, both human and demon, the sequel features another. The new form in Digital Devil Saga 2 is known as the berserk form. When a character is in the berserk form, part of their body is transformed into the demon form, while the other part is still in their human form. This form has an enormous advantage when it comes to physical attacking because both the character's attack and critical percentage increase drastically, as well as the amount of experience that a character earns. However, berserk form also causes your defense to lower, hit percentage to lower, and, other than devour, all other skills are unavailable. Unlike the human form and demon form, players have nothing to do with when their party will go into berserk form. When the solar data cycle, located at the top left, reaches the max, there is a chance that your party could transform into this form.


With Digital Devil Saga 2, characters now have the ability to bare some equipment. While there isn't a large amount of equipment characters can wear, they can equip something called a Karma Ring. Each character can wear one karma ring, each of which can either give a certain stat bonus or can automatically cast some type of spell in combat. Karma rings can also be enhanced with the addition of certain gems collected throughout the game. Each karma ring has a certain number of gem slots it can hold. Once a gem is placed on a karma ring, it can be removed; however, the gem must be discarded.


As far as graphics are concerned, Digital Devil Saga 2 looks just as impressive as the original. While the graphics haven't really changed since the original, that isn't exactly a bad thing. The original had a nice, unique character look to it, and Digital Devil Saga 2 continues on with that great look. While the environments do look a little better, there isn't an enormous difference.


The sound of the game is another area where the game excels. Like the original, the character voice-acting is done very well and the in-game music is also a highlight of the game. Those who were lucky enough to have pre-ordered the game received a copy of the Digital Devil Saga 2 soundtrack, which won't disappoint.


Digital Devil Saga 2 also features a nice treat for any of those who had completed the first game and still have that save on their memory card. When an individual begins a new game of Digital Devil Saga 2, the memory card is scanned and, depending on certain things done in the original game, objects become unlocked. Things such as unique karma rings, extra stats and even an extra character can be unlocked. However, by using an original Digital Devil Saga save file, your game is automatically set on hard mode. While this might seem difficult, most experienced players shouldn't have many problems.


When it comes down to it, Digital Devil Saga 2 really isn't that different from the original. However, with a fun and interesting story, a larger cast of characters, new abiltiies, and a great soundtrack, Digital Devil Saga 2 is another great game under Atlus' belt that any fan of the RPG genre can enjoy!


Final Grade: 87%




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