Medium: 3DS Card / Digital
The Devil Survivor series debuted on the Nintendo DS, a new SMT franchise with a unique blend of SRPG and turn-based combat, and one which quickly established a fanbase and later received a sequel. While the 3DS inevitably received a numbered installment in the mainline SMT series, it welcomed a remaster of the first Devil Survivor in its fledgling years — titled Devil Survivor: Overclocked. While the next-gen handheld supported backwards compatibility, Devil Survivor: Overclocked treated players to extra content and of course, the ability to play in stereoscopic 3D.
Three years later, the sequel remaster lands on Nintendo's 3DS as Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker. It's no surprise that the remaster includes similar incentives to both fans and newcomers interested in playing one of the DS' more beloved RPGs, with additional content, 3D support, and DLC to spice up the original game. Best of all, for someone like yours truly, the Devil Survivor series are standalone titles that can be played independently of each other. Without any prerequisites in our way, let's see how Devil Survivor 2: Overclocked shaped up.
What may come as a surprise to some is when compared to the Overclocked remaster, Record Breaker overshadows its predecessor by including an entirely new campaign that picks up where Devil Survivor 2 left off. Available from the start, there's no barrier between those eager to pick up at the additional story without replaying the original game.
For those unfamiliar with Devil Survivor 2, the game scratches more than the strategy RPG itch, following a group of students in modern Japan as they face apocalyptic events. If you like your MegaTen themes centered around Japanese culture, demonic takeover, and secret organizations, then you'll find yourself at home in Record breaker's world. Gadgetry resides in the character's phones, mirroring app usage in other SMT games, and where all your demon and skill management will take place as the game unfolds. You'll also be tasked with choosing your battles wisely, as events take up a portion of in-game time, creating some nice tension in the plot's week-long time frame.
The controls mirror the DS game, taking a bit of adjustment to orient the up/down/left/right of an isometric grid, but I quickly found my bearings and was zipping around the battlefield.
In a way, Atlus' preservation of the game's original look and feel is endearing, even if a bit archaic. This dedication to the original game is complimented with polish in places that may appear subtle or even unnoticed to those who hadn't played the original, such as the added voice work. These features give the game an archival augmentation, bringing the original vision closer to what the Nintendo DS may not have been capable of fully executing, but taking a backseat at the same time so as not to infringe on what made the original as beloved as it is.
Then again, isn't that the point of a quality remaster?
While I found a difficult learning curve in the first few hours of Record breaker, something clicked soon after, and I found myself happy to have a second chance to play it. I'm reminded of Persona 3,: FES, and how in a way, Record breaker is Devil Survivor's true FES. Added female character? Check. Additional lengthy campaign? I'd call an extra 50% of gameplay lengthy; check. Optimized for new hardware? (Paid and free) DLC support and Streetpass functionality present; check.
There are plenty of reasons to recommend Devil Survivor 2 Record breaker to plenty of different people. The SMT-blended strategy game received a sizable expansion in all the right places, so it's worth a replay for veterans. For newcomers like myself, it's a substantially worthwhile JRPG almost any way you cut it; it's got style, an engaging story, and game design that keeps up a healthy pace throughout the entire game. While I'm not a fan of the anime art, I love the pixel work in the "game" sections, and the music is improved from the Nintendo DS release. If you missed Devil Survivor 2 the first time around, or even Record breaker on its release earlier this year, it's one of those RPGs that "there's never a bad time" to jump in.