Shin Megami Tensei Review: Devil Survivor Overclocked

Editor's note: a few weeks after the game was released, a bugfix was finally made available that corrects the numerous technical problems encountered during the review. Given (in our opinion) the enormous gravity of what happened with Devil Survivor Overclocked, or the introduction of new bugs in a game that arrives on European soil with an already unacceptable delay, we have decided not to make changes to the judgment or to the evaluation of the game. The title is now perfectly functional and playable (and deserves a nice nine), but the treatment that European players have had to undergo with Overclocked does not deserve better evaluations than the one at the bottom of the article.

Four years ago Atlus created a Nintendo DS spin-off of its critically acclaimed Shin Megami Tensei series, a strategic RPG titled Devil Survivor. The game was released in America and Japan but not in Europe, leaving the import market as the only choice for European fans. Two years later, in 2011, a few months after the announcement of a sequel on Nintendo DS, Devil Survivor 2, the house released an extended version of the first episode on Nintendo 3DS, Devil Survivor Overclocked. Again the game was released only in America and Japan, this time leaving European players completely dry as the 3DS regional lock did not make it possible to resort to parallel import. Only today, after another two years, the game sees the light in the old continent, by the English publisher Ghostlight, specialized in niche Japanese titles. Let's go immediately to find out together if the patience of the European players will have brought good results or not.

Tokyo, mysteries, demons, seven days to survive ...

Devil Survivor Overclocked puts the player in the shoes of a young boy from Tokyo, whose name must be chosen at the start of the match. Next to the protagonist we will find the beautiful Yuzu Tanikawa, his childhood friend, and Atsuro Kihara, their contemporary computer wizard. The three boys will find themselves catapulted into an incredible story when Naoya, cousin of the protagonist and renowned hacker, will make them have three devices similar in appearance to a Nintendo DS, called COMP. Much of the game's plot will revolve around the COMPs: in a completely sudden way some mysterious incidents will spread throughout the metropolitan territory of Tokyo, macabre foretold by the Laplace Mail, strange e-mails that the three protagonists will receive on their COMP. The various incidents will be followed by a massive blackout and the decision of the Japanese government to quarantine the entire city. The three boys will soon discover the real reasons for this quarantine: Tokyo is being invaded by demons, and they themselves, thanks to one of the hidden functions of the COMP will find themselves able to evoke them. A further function of the versatile portable devices will also be to show our protagonists how many days of life remain for the various people they meet. The kids will quickly realize that all people within the quarantine area have less than a week left to live. What to do then? Trying to survive, using demons against other demons, looking for a way out of the quarantine zone, trying to foil a destiny that seems to have already been written, and at the same time unraveling the mysteries that lie behind the COMP, Naoya, the quarantine and the mysterious religious sect known as Shomonkai. There is really a lot of meat on the fire, but fortunately Devil Survivor Overclocked manages to manage it in an excellent way, with an excellent narrative rhythm, a great quality in the dialogues and keeping the player's attention always high with gradual and continuous surprises, as well as with a nice and captivating set of characters.

 Halfway between the visual novel and the strategic RPG

To give the right space to such an articulated plot the game is roughly divided into visual novel portions (a typically Japanese sub-genre of our graphic adventures, ed), in which most of the dialogues and interactions between the characters will take place and in the various battles against demons, in which the strategic RPG nature of the game will be explained. Unlike other exponents of the genre, in DSO we will not have an army of allies at our disposal, but our only pawns will be the three protagonists. Each unit that appears on the pitch (which as tradition dictates is divided into squares and is seen from three quarters, from above) will actually correspond to a team of three elements: a human being and two evoked demons. Another point of distinction compared to other strategic RPGs is the management of the order of the clashes. In Overclocked we don't find a player turn and an enemy turn, but each individual unit will have its own independent turn, and the order in which the turns will take place will be marked by the speed statistics of the various characters. As in the most classic of strategic units, units will only be able to move a certain number of squares per turn and will only be able to attack when they come into contact with opposing pieces. The combat takes place through a battle screen in which we will find ourselves selecting an attack for each of the elements of our team and their respective targets, leaving the player the possibility to build attack and defense strategies against each particular opponent. Rather than the mere positioning on the pitch, certainly important (being surrounded on four sides by enemy units is never a pleasant or advisable situation) but not as much as in other strategic RPGs, the true tactical range of Devil Survivor Overclocked is in the preparation for clashes, in building our three teams with the best demons, equipping them with the best attacks and above all choosing the right attacks with respect to the specific elemental weaknesses of the opposing demons. At the end of each battle we will receive experience points and "Macca", the currency of the demon world. The Macca can then be used to obtain new demons through the auction mechanism. In fact, at any time during the non-combat phases we will be able to access the auction functionality of the now trusted COMP, through which to compete with other summoners for the purchase of new demons to use in battle. Each demon, even within the same type, is different, in terms of skills and statistics, and also thanks to a rather quick turnover it is advisable to use auctions often to improve your teams. In addition to auctions, it is possible to obtain new demons through fusion. Through this function it will be possible to merge two demons in our possession to create a new one, different from both the starting demons. The new demon will inherit, in addition to the specific abilities of its type, also some abilities of the parent demons, thus dramatically increasing the possibilities of choice for the player.

 Overclocked yes, but by how much?

Compared to the original Devil Survivor, Overclocked adds few improvements. The game uses higher resolution graphic assets, even if the 3DS features have not been exploited in the least: beyond the introductory movie, the whole game is not viewable in 3D, in any case. A huge wasted opportunity as the resolution increase alone is not enough to mask the Nintendo DS origins of the game. While presenting an absolutely captivating graphic style, also thanks to the character design of Suzuhito Yasuda (Yozakura Quartet, Durarara !!), from a purely technical point of view the graphic aspect of the title is disappointing, today even more than at the time of its release. American, which occurred almost two years ago. From the point of view of content Overclocked also introduces an extra chapter, the eighth day, which adds a new piece of history to each of the possible endings of the adventure, and a full dubbing in English for all the dialogues of the game. These two additions are certainly more welcome than the poor graphical upgrade and in particular the dubbing is of excellent workmanship, made with credibility and great professionalism by the actors. As far as the sound is concerned, the excellent dubbing is accompanied by an excellent soundtrack, which in full Shin Megami Tensei style moves away from the fantastic canons of many JRPGs to embrace a modern style, son of the current Japanese rock and pop genres.

Not everything is plain sailing

Unfortunately, not everything about Devil Survivor Overclocked is as rosy as it sounds. Despite the two years delay compared to the American release, the game has not in fact been translated into any European language except English. The translation is also the same as the American version, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of those who have been waiting for the game for months and months. And surely these people will have even more a bitter taste in their mouth discovering that in the process of localization, it is not known how, Ghostlight and Atlus have managed to insert bugs in the game that are not present in the American and Japanese versions. Some of these bugs are of minor importance, while others are very serious, to the point of compromising the very use of the title. Some of the more harmless bugs are related to the name of the character and that of some demons. From the first minutes of the game, the name and surname we set for the protagonist will be inexplicably reversed, causing curious situations in which childhood friends are called by surname or in which Naoya has the name of the cousin, the protagonist, for surname. As for the names of the demons, although they are shown in the correct form in the other phases of the game, during the battles all the names of demons consisting of two words will appear with an underscore "_" between the two words, giving a bad impression of amateurism . Far worse are the bugs relating to the actual gameplay. In the battle phases it is possible, when one of our demons is defeated, or more simply when we want to replace an element of our team, to use the command "summon" to summon another of the demons in our possession. In the European version of Devil Survivor Overclocked this command causes a freeze of the game lasting between three and five minutes, during which pressing any key or input will have no effect. Even if at the end of the freeze the game resumes without consequences, it is very annoying to have to take forced breaks every time you have to change your team, and at the same time, given the good level of challenge offered by DSO, it is unthinkable to try to avoid using this command over the course of a game. Another bug is potentially even more annoying. This is a crash, not avoidable and unpredictable, which occurs during auction accidents. This is the name by which situations are defined in which a seller lies about the statistics of a demon, which the player can only notice after winning the auction in question. In these cases, the European version of the game crashes irretrievably, causing the player to lose any progress made since the previous save. Auction accidents occur with low but still significant frequency, and this crash forces the player to compulsively save, in fear of losing precious minutes or even hours of play. Informed of these problems Ghostlight reacted promptly, recalling its staff from the Easter holidays and immediately contacting the Japanese development team Atlus and Nintendo to ensure a quick solution to these bugs: it seems that a patch is already in the works, of which we have not yet knows the release date. But my thoughts turn to the two years wasted on localization: is it possible that in all this time no one has carried out adequate testing? How is it possible that such heavy bugs escape the Atlus development team, the Ghostlight test team and the Nintendo test team? How is it possible that a game with such serious and obvious problems can be printed without anyone noticing? Despite all the good will of Ghostlight to mobilize in search of a solution, it is shameful and unacceptable that European players have had to wait two years to find themselves with a fundamentally unplayable product.

Verdict 5.5 / 10 An unfortunate release, for what is a great masterpiece of its own Comment Evaluating Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked in its European version is very, very difficult. The game is beautiful. Really nice. Starting from the well-built and told story, which branches out into multiple endings and is further extended compared to the original version, up to the gameplay that, while maintaining some classic elements of the Shin Megami Tensei series, tackles the genre of strategic RPGs by subverting its canons. The additions over the original version are few but the strength remains of a design that is as brilliant on the 3DS as it was on the DS. However, despite the many merits, it would be unfair to reward with a positive vote a product that arrives in Europe with an unacceptable delay in itself and that, worse still, has been completely ruined by a series of bugs of not negligible importance. When a patch arrives to solve the various problems we will finally be able to say that we have an authentic must-have in our hands, but until then the purchase is seriously not recommended. Pros and cons Captivating and well written plot
Challenging, cerebral and original gameplay
Excellent dubbing x The graphics betray the Nintendo DS origins
x Two years of waiting and not even a Spanish translation?
x Heavy bugs that ruin the game experience

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