Man, I fucking love Devil Survivor. I know I mentioned it already, yesterday, and that review was already long, but there’s some stuff in that game that bubbles out of me that isn’t even a matter of clever design or great writing. It just locks into me somehow in a way that makes my fists close.
I made my protagonist – Lucky, to his friends – into a physical attacker, with only just enough agility to earn Pierce. When you really focus on it, you’ll be startled by how early in the game you can rack up brutal damage output, and then I started to pick up cohorts to maximise it. I think it was a Kishin and a Beast, giving Lucky Animal Leg and Double Strike. When other teammates were engaging enemies at the entrance area, Lucky would charge ahead, smash someone, charge ahead again, engage someone else, smash the hell out of them, charge again, and then end his first turn off in the darkest wilds of someone else’s territory, where enemies would all flock to him. Normally that’s dangerous, but Lucky revelled in it. Thanks to type attacks and Pierce, he could almost guarantee that he’d be able to clean-clock the enemies against him, and he was reckless enough to use his hit points to fuel attacks like Berserk on smaller enemy pools.
I remember when I first had the opportunity to fight Beldr? That fight, the first time you do it is really hard and really scary, especially if you’re the kind of player who builds their protagonist for say, magical damage? That’s just fucking rough. Even Almighty damage – normally piercing everything – doesn’t get through Beldr’s special armour. I think the first time I tried every boss fight in DeSu I was crushed, and every time I came back to it, understood it better, and with some rearrangement of my team, won.
There are so many cute tricks in it, too. Like for the fight where you have to rescue Haru, you can equip an Avian (for Flight) and a… I want to say Genma? Demon? And then swap positions with her. You rush forwards like twelve spaces, swap with her, tank a hit from a Wendigo, then just fly the hell away.
I liked that the game didn’t have ‘a romance’ to it. It had social contacts, you could influence characters to like you, but there was no Definitely Going To Bang, AAA+ mode of the game. I liked imagining that even if there was chemistry between Lucky and his friends, it was all very gentle and could be postponed until later. After all, while love blooms on a battlefield, that doesn’t mean it has to. Sometimes you can fall in love with someone because you and they’ve been friends for a while, and that friendship has included mutual experiences.