RPGem Files – Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga

Hey everyone, and welcome to my first post for 3 Sided Die!

Today I’ll be going over something that was released on the Playstation 2 in 2005, a pair of RPGs called Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga.

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The Shin Megami Tensei series is over 25 years old, first releasing in 1987 on the Family Computer console, or as some refer to it, the Famicom. The most popular series in Shin Megami Tensei is the Persona series, making its breakthrough in popularity with Persona 3, released in 2007 in North America.

I’m focusing on Digital Devil Saga because it’s my personal favorite in the Shin Megami Tensei series (referred to as SMT going forward). When it comes to the SMT series, most everyone thinks of Persona. This is a title that, while I can’t discuss the story very much, is definitely worth looking into if you’re a fan of darker-themed games.

image4Digital Devil Saga (referred to as DDS going forward) is a story focused on characters who are able to become demons that must consume their own to win a war, and then achieve Nirvana, a large part of Buddhist religion.

DDS is an industrial-themed game in both audio and visuals, as you begin the game in a junkyard with your tribe, called the Embryon, followed by almost immediate plot twists.

Unlike previous titles in SMT, you have no demons to battle alongside you as you would in the Persona and Devil Summoner series, and no personas to summon. The only demons you have to battle alongside you are yourselves, which you can shapeshift to and from at any time in battle.

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Each of the six protagonists you control in both games — Cielo, Gale, Sera, Serph, Heat and Argilla, have different weaknesses and strengths in battle, as you may expect from most RPGs. At times, you’ll be forced to make a decision as to whether or not you want to stay in demon form or revert back to your humanoid form. While your demon forms have large amounts of power that come from their “Atma Branding,” there are times you’ll want to remain in your humanoid form. While your defenses are significantly reduced, the ability to use guns in battle will sometimes outweigh that detriment.

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Digital Devil Saga has something for everyone. From experience, I can attest to it being not as difficult as some of the other entries in the SMT universe; Atlus wanted to “ease up” on its difficulty so that a broader range of their audience could enjoy it. It is worth noting, however, that there is one “hidden boss” in the first Digital Devil Saga, and while I won’t mention who it is (because spoilers,) said boss is widely considered to be the hardest boss fight in the history of JRPGs – so much so that it’s still on my bucket list to get past it. If you’re an avid fan of SMT, you’ll be both pleased and horrified to find out who it is, when you get to that point.

The soundtrack to Digital Devil Saga, just like SMT in its entirety, has a fantastic soundtrack. Every track throughout the game puts you in whatever mood Atlus wanted you to be in at the time – whether it’s feeling ready to devour your enemies for skill points to earn skills, or feeling clouded with doom and mystery, Digital Devil Saga will have you on the edge of your proverbial seat the entire time.

On a difficulty scale, I would put Digital Devil Saga at 7/10. The games definitely have their moments where you really need to think about your strategies for certain bosses, though it’s simple enough to where you can enjoy the ride the entire time.

Thank you for reading, tune in next time where I discuss a modern release, Hyrule Warriors!

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