Uh if you play MMOs that's alright. Maybe there's still something we could talk about. Like how you let your family down.

Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner Raidou Kuzunoha Vs. The Soulless Army

By S.A. Renegade on February 21, 2009 in Reviews

Final verdict: A-
Final playtime: 92 hours

Hokay, so I said I might replay this game in preparation for the sequel, and it looks like I couldn’t help myself, so I did.

Ok so I know what you’re thinking. “Did this nigger just give Devil Summoner the same score as Persona 3?!” That’s right, assholes, and I’ll tell you why.

One of the biggest problems I had with Devil Summoner was that it was far and away the easiest SMT. It was ridiculous. It was like, you thought P3 was easy? You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, fool. You could probably play it and eat Ritz Bits at the same time and somehow not get indigestion. Fuck it, now I’m hungry. I wish I had some Ritz Bits. Good stuff.

So what was I saying? Oh right. Devil Summoner was too fucking easy. Atlus advertised it as being “easy to get into so even newcomers can see what all the fuss is about.” Fuck you, Atlus, I thought we had something special! Why’d you have to cheat on me with those casuals. Games should be scary, and unfriendly, and kick your ass the second you look the other way.

However, when I popped in Devil Summoner and loaded my old save file to start my second playthrough, I was greeted by an amazing thing:

“You can select the harder Devil Mode difficulty… think you’re strong enough?!”

This game actually has a Hard Mode?! All this time, I had no fucking idea! You don’t even know how happy that message made me. I was going to replay it anyway, but this makes things so much more worthwhile. And the best part of all is, it is actually hard. This isn’t like P3 where the hard mode is still a walk in the park. No. In Devil Summoner it’s serious. Fucking. Business. Especially early on. You get one-shotted left and right by normal random encounter enemies. I probably died around 50 times in the first 10 hours. It got to the point where early on I had to go back and save practically after every fight. And it was absolutely delightful. It reminded me a little of Nocturne. This is how games should be. None of this candy ass shit we have these days. Fuck.

As an aside, I’m starting to see a problem. Mainly this: while it is great to be able to choose hard mode from the start like in P4, it’s also great to have a new difficulty to look forward to when you replay the game. Clearly, the only way to resolve this problem is to have three difficulties. When you start the game for the first time, you have the option of choosing between two difficulties: Pussy Mode (otherwise known as Normal Mode in politically correct land) or Normal Mode (otherwise known as Hard Mode). But once you’ve beaten the game, you unlock the new Assrape Mode (w/o lube). See, now everyone’s happy. And by everyone I mean me.

Secondly, Devil Summoner is an action RPG. That is to say, it has real-time battles. As I’ve said before, experience has taught me that a real-time battle system in an RPG is never better than a turn-based one. There’s a reason action games like Devil May Cry are only 10-20 hours long and only have a handful of bosses. Because they’re difficult to make and plugging a battle system like that into a long RPG is unrealistic. Hence why real-time battle systems in RPGs will always range from mediocre to passable. Devil Summoner is no exception. The battle system will likely feel a little clunky at first, though you get used to it. It ain’t a work of art, that’s for sure. But guess what, fucker? P3’s battle system wasn’t a whole hell of a lot better. I mean, not being able to control your party members? Seriously? Fuck you. Go to jail.

Not that you can control your party members in Devil Summoner either. But there’s no way to remedy that with a real-time battle system, so at least it’s got a somewhat flimsy excuse, unlike P3. Which brings me to my next point: your demons in this game tend to be phenomenally stupid. And this is even more apparent in hard mode. Shit like continuing to use an attack against an enemy even though it’s healing said enemy, or not using the enemy’s weakness. These aren’t such huge problems since you can order them to use specific attacks, but it is sometimes annoying that you have to baby them so much. Further, there is no order for “stay the fuck away from the giant, fire-breathing monstrosity, retard!” Sure, you can call the demon to your side with a button, but what if you’re currently close to the enemy? Oh yeah, then the demon gets assraped. Even when they have NO attack skills and are currently under the “Heal and support me” order, demons still insist on walking over to the enemy and committing suicide. Like I said, this is much more apparent in Hard Mode, to the point where early on, you cannot use demons in battle unless they are completely immune to the enemies’ attacks. After all, if even you have to make a bunch of fancy manuevers to keep from getting one-shotted, a retarded demon has absolutely no chance of surviving.

But you know, this isn’t actually so bad. In fact, I’d daresay it’s good. Because now, you actually have to think about what demon to use in which situation. You can’t just use whatever demon you want and easily win like you could in Normal Mode. You actually have to take into account your demons’ strengths and weaknesses, its skills, as well as the enemies you’re currently fighting. In fact, until very late in the game, it’s just better to not have a default demon set, and only summon one after you go into battle and see what you’re up against.

Anyway, thirdly! As I’ve said before, Kazuma Kaneko is an awesome artist. That’s right, move over Michelangelo, nobody likes your style. Not that P3’s Soejima isn’t without merit. He is also awesome. But protagonists designed by Kaneko are always cooler. Devil Summoner is no exception. Main character Raidou Kuzunoha is a total badass. Is it the cloak? It’s probably the cloak. Or is it the hat? Eh, it’s everything. Point is, it’s cool to be Raidou. I don’t doubt that Soejima’s protagonists are more average because he was specifically asked to make them like that, but hey, I rate what is, not what could have been. In a related note, the main girl in Devil Summoner is probably the best one Kaneko’s drawn. Not that that’s saying much, considering how bad the ones in Nocturne and especially DDS were, but hey, at least the guy’s improving.

So that’s why I’ve scored Devil Summoner the same as P3. It’s funny that I had to replay it to realize. If I had reviewed it after the first playthrough, I would have certainly given it a worse score.

Coupla other things I wanna mention before I wrap this bitch up. Shoji Meguro is a genius, and his work in this game’s soundtrack is particularly amazing. Seriously. He’ll be hard-pressed to equal it in the sequel. I almost feel sorry for the guy.

The setting in this game (1920’s Japan) is really nice. If there’s something I love about all SMTs, is that they always have great settings. Another thing I like about this game is the ending. Devil Summoner is the least serious SMT, and because of this, unlike almost all of them, the ending isn’t depressing. I loathe getting depressed, so in my ideal world, all endings would be happy ones. The only other SMT that wasn’t sad was Nocturne. It’s like… P4 – Melancholic ending. P3 – horrible tragic ending. DDS – depressing ending. Devil Summoner – Happy ending. Nocturne – Badass ending. Although Nocturne technically had 6 endings. But forget that. Everyone knows what the real one is.

So yeah. I like that there are no tragic deaths in this game, and that at the end, pretty much nothing has changed, and it’s just Raidou getting the next case and running off into the distance.

Another thing to note, is that this is also the shortest SMT. It only took me 55 hours to beat on my first playthrough. This time around it took me 92, but that’s because it was hard mode, and also because I was compulsively talking to everyone trying to get all the dialogue. The game has an interesting feature where people’s dialogue changes all the fucking time. Pretty much every time you advance a little in the plot, even for the most trivial advancements. For example, you walk down the street and talk to a guy. Everyone’s dialogue in the entire world changes. That’s having to walk around the entire world talking to everyone, and then do it all over again only a few seconds later. Of course, pretty much no one is actually going be asshole enough to do this, so most people will have a lower playtime.

To the untrained eye (that’s everyone except me), Devil Summoner might seem like the runt of the SMT series. In reality, it’s a fully worthy entry in the series. It’s just not that easy to realize.

Final Verdict: A-

Final Playtime: 92 hours

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