Shin Mega Ten (you see what I did there?) games have been around for a long time and they have always followed this very strict regiment, so it’s nice to see after a little hand on time with Atlus’ latest entry; Devil Summoner, that the game play is getting a little shake up. For starters the game takes place in early 1920’s Japan, yet is modeled after some late 1970’s detective shows (which is given dead away by the almost cheesy yet very appropriate opening cinema), where as previous games in the Shin Mega Ten line have been very cyber-punk and futuristic. But the cosmetics aren’t the only thing getting a change to help breathe a new life in to this series; the battle system has also gone from turn based to a real time action adventure type system that almost puts this game in to the action-RPG genre.
The tale that Devil Summoner weaves appears to be an intriguing one, you fill the shoes of Raidou Kuzunoha, a policeman you could say. He is a man who fights a never ceasing war against demons, and fresh off his initiation he’s got a few odd jobs to pull with a local detective agency. One night he encounters a woman asking him to kill her. Murder you say? Color me interested. But before the deed could be done she is kidnapped and Raidou is left trying to figure out why the girl would make such an odd request. There is a lot of ways to tackle the story too, for you do a lot of detective footwork and ask people around town, showing pictures and such to try and garner as much information as possible, and if the people don’t want to cooperate then there is always the option of smacking them down with a demon, which is a neat little element that I’m hoping is fleshed out further.
Graphically this game is looking quite good, featuring character designs from Kazuma Kaneko and an impressive graphics engine this title is a definite step up from the previous Shin Mega Ten games. The number of people on screen roaming the towns of Japan also helps to impress since it actually feels like it’s a truly living world, not barren to just a few people at a time. The only negative mark I’ll give it in this early going is that the monster designs from previous games are still being carried over. There are a few new additions but after seeing so many of the other monsters so many times before it’s hard to take notice.
Combat has received an overhaul and features a few new tweaks. First of all battles are still random, but they have a real time element to them. That is to say that once battle begins you’re placed in a confined space but you can move around freely. The square button is mapped to sword attacks, and the triangle to guns. It is also possible to summon demons to your side to aid you in your fight. They’ll add color commentary as the fight goes on to give you an idea of how the fight is going, and once you’ve done enough damage you can unleash a special attack with your partnered demon for a great deal of damage.
We’re just about a week out from Devil Summoner, and so far all is looking well. Atlus has what looks to be another sleeper hit on their hands, but hopefully this will be the game that really gets people to sit up and take notice that there is something really special here. Check back with us soon for a full review.
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