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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2005
The Junkyard, a neverending war with only the promise of Nirvana to keep the warriors fighting. Everything changes when a mysterious girl appears and the "true" form of the residents of the Junkyard takes hold.

This is how the saga begins in Digital Devil Saga, and it ends on a steep cliffhanger. Digital Devil Saga 2 is the continuation of that story, or in some ways could be considered the real story. This is where things get gritty and real. Questions are answered, but at a price, and by the end of it all you feel like you just got off an intense rollercoaster. I have never played an RPG with as incredible and deep a story as this series.

Regarding the story, if you have not played DDS, please do not cheat yourself of the entire picture. Although there are minor recaps, they do nothing to give justice or true understanding to what happened in the first game and so much of the second game relies on some prior knowledge that although you'll be able to play through and win without any problems, I am not sure you will get the whole message of what the series tries to bring across.

On to the technical, first off, Graphics. If you've played DDS then you know how the graphics in DDS 2 are. Wonderfully done cell shading and great mood inducing dungeons. Everything is brighter and more colorful in DDS 2 than it was in DDS which makes some of the dungeons in DDS 2 even creepier. Atlus did a great job in creating the several of the dungeons, especially the final dungeon which is enormous. There are the occasional "jaggies" depending on what kind of system you are playing on, but then again this isnt designed for Hi-Def, that generation is just around the corner.

Next up, Sound. The music in this game is outstanding. Easily on par with SMT: Nocturne, and in many cases outclassing DDS. The Underground City music is a great hip-hop/symphonic mix piece that really brings out the feeling of hopelessness that the residents of this world feel. The battle music is great, with some of the pieces being remix tracks from DDS. One thing of note about the music is that it made a turn to being more Techno in this version, while in DDS its more Rock based. The sound effects are also very well done and bring you into the game and atmosphere extremely well. Some effects, however, such as Serph/Varna's blades coming out do not sound as crisp and clear as they did in DDS, but this is very minor and does nothing to hinder enjoyment of the game.

Now to Gameplay. It plays like DDS did, except for a few additions. First being the new Mantra Grid system. This system is leaps and bounds above the Mantra system in DDS. DDS required that you learn one set of spells before being able to move on to the next, higher level, set of spells. So if you were learning Zan, the low level-single enemy wind spell, you could not learn Zanma, the mid level-single enemy wind spell, until you learned Mazan, the low level-all enemy wind spell. Still with me? Excellent! Now, with the new Mantra Grid system, it is fully possible to learn Zanma without EVER learning Zan or Mazan. When you learn a mantra on the grid, every mantra adjacent to the one just learned becomes "active" and learnable from that point. Learning a high level spell mantra could easily open up the ability to learn a high level physical attack mantra or vice versa. This is where the system fully seperates itself from being compared to the Final Fantasy X Sphere Grid, which the DDS system was accurately compared to.

Some other additions to the gameplay are the introduction of "Karma Rings" which can give the character some interesting abilities. One increases defense while in human form, while another will dual cast Tarukaja/Rakunda (Strength +/Defense -) on the character wearing it. There are also special rings that can only be available if you have defeated certain bosses in DDS and transferred you save data over. Also by transferring your save data you can receive status point boosts at the beginning of the game. These boosts come in very handy and make the beginning of the game much easier so you can focus more on the story.

Speaking of which, did I mention the story is incredible? In all my years of playing RPGs, this one is by far on the top list. My own personal feeling is that it is imperative to play DDS before DDS 2 because they link up in so many ways, and you really gain a sense of caring for the characters out of DDS, which will serve to amplify the story that DDS 2 has to share. On its own, however, DDS 2's story is more than a match to other RPGs. Its an intense ride, and well worth the time for any RPG player to experience.

DDS and DDS 2 is easily two of 2005's best and I would expect to see them on all those video game award shows, and quite possibly winning a few awards. If you have not heard of Shin Megami Tensei yet, then this is a great place to start and check the series out. If you have and are wondering if you should pick this or DDS up, what are you waiting for? Get out there and experience what a true saga is like.

Chris Taylor
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2007
So, I finally finished the second Digital Devil Saga game. The question may be, should you play the first game before this one? My answer is YES, as they are part of one story and playing them in the wrong order would make nonsense of the plot. Playing the second one alone would also drastically dilute the experience, as there are many references to the events of the first one. So this game is really not for anyone but players of Digital Devil Saga 1.

Ok, with that out of the way, I guess my advice would be to treat DDS1 and DDS2 as a two-disc single game - and buy them both. I think it's a bit of a shame that they did not release both games as a double pack, at least for a limited edition...maybe they will in the future. So for players of the first game, the story continues here. The five main characters have reached "Nirvana" and found that they are no better off than where they first started. So now they want answers, and the story concerns the revelations behind what the Junkyard actually was and where your team has now ended up. As plot twists go, it's actually been done before (I can't tell you which games it resembles to avoid spoilers!), but the resolution of the story is very mature and some scenes are extremely sad.

I won't go into any more detail about gameplay as it's all the same as DDS1 - turn based RPG action with the "press turns" system still as great as ever. You'd have to really like the Shin Megami game world by now though, as this is the third (I'm including Nocturne/Lucifer's Call, here) game for the PS2 so far to use many of the same monsters and battle skills all over again. By now I was starting to feel the repetition slightly, and when some of the monsters re-appeared, my mind went back to Lucifer's Call where I was able to employ them as team members, and I remembered how good that was. But DDS2 is still great fun to play, and at least they have brought in two brand new playable characters. Another different aspect is the way you access the Mantras (skills). You still have to buy them but the grid is now a big honeycomb rather than lots of single paths, so characters can cross more freely into each other's areas. The best skills are still waa-aay out of reach until you've done an incredible amount of levelling up, or are playing a second time through, whioch is a bit frustrating. And some of the top level skills only appear after fighting optional bosses, but I guess that's fair.

While on the subject of options, you will be doing yourself another big favour by playing DDS1 first and KEEPING THE SAVE DATA! This game can read your memory card for a DDS1 file and a clear game save will allow several handy bonuses. Some of these are money based, but others allow you acces to some extremely useful Karma Rings, which act as equippable shield/support items in this game. If you defeated the optional bosses Metatron and Beelzebub in DDS1, you'll get free rings that shield you from the two most annoying status attacks, Death and Expel. There are other rings too, none of which can be found or bought in DDS2 otherwise, and are extremely useful in fighting some tricky boss fights. Of course defeating those bosses in DDS1 was no mean feat, so if you managed to do so, you've earned these valuable accessories. Another bonus is that in the final dungeon, three of your characters may (depending on some simple choices in DDS1) each get a new super-strong skill for free, but these are so expensive to cast that I tried them out one or twice each just to see them and then never touched them again.

What I found lacking was no decent side quests or mini games. The "Space Invaders" style game was horrible and the Hee-Ho quiz was interminable, I never got anywhere near answering them all as Jack Frost appeared so rarely. There are some optional bosses, but not many, and they seem stuck on as an afterthought. They are, however suitably difficult, and only the dedicated player will defeat them, and doing so without the aid of a guide is almost impossible! Again, the game ends with a frustrating maze-like level of winding passages and warp-points, but luckily it's not as bad as the final area in the first game.

What's still good is the depth of the characterization. All the major cast members have real personalities, and there are several heavily dramatic scenes along the way which are very well depicted and voiced. As I mentioned earlier, this is a gloomy story with little feel-good atmosphere, but it certainly feels well written. And the graphics and design are still the same cool style. So, when added together with DDS1, it makes for a sizeable epic, but alone, both games fall short of the length I would expect for a single RPG game....still, its a great experience to play both, and now that both are available, interested gamers could embark on a marathon single venture, although the dropping of all stats back to starting levels halfway through (at the start of DDS2) might be a bit galling. But thats how it has to be. Enjoyable none the less.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2005
Please Note: This review is intended for those who have played the first Digital Devil Saga.

In almost every aspect, Digital Devil Saga II (DDS2) accomplishes the goal of sequels. While DDS1 was certainly an interesting game, it was much too easy (especially for a Shin Megami Tensei game!) and many players felt that although it was a good game, improvements could be made.

DDS2 makes many of these improvements:

1) Music - Some of the music from DDS1 was just ear grinding crap. The pseudo-80's, pseudo-metal guitar riffs got real old, real fast and seemed maddeningly inappropriate for the game. The battle music in particular was aggravatingly irritating. DDS2 makes a dramatic improvement in this regard: the soundtrack is not only bearable, but actually enjoyable to listen to. The soundtrack that shipped with this game may actually see some use, unlike DDS1's sound track, which I used as a coaster, and then as a frisbee.

2) Character Progression - progression is much more engaging and customizable this time around. The mantra system is no longer rigidly linear: DDS2 adopts a grid layout for abilities that allows you to customize your character ability sets much more easily. It's also much easier to see your character's progression this way. New, useful mantras have been added to the game. Additionally, characters have more equipment than just bullets this time around: each character can now equip a ring. Rings give varied bonuses, ranging from stats (+3 magic, +1 vitality, or whatever) to other interesting abilities (autocast kaja abilities, transform/revert doesn't take up a turn panel). FURTHER: rings can be customized by installing gems (think Diablo 2). Suddenly, items in this game became interesting.

3) Balancing - Agility and Luck actually have a significant impact on your characters now, forcing you to reconsider dumping all your stat points into one place. Solar noise influences something other than the sale price of cells (berserk mode = very cool).

4) Combat - Enemies received a HUGE AI boost. Your opponents will actually target your weaknesses in addition to actively protecting their own. They will heal when they're hurt, and won't waste time healing when they aren't. If you beat DDS1, you can select your difficulty level, providing an opportunity for skilled gamers to be challenged.

5) Plot - Unlike the first game, I actually feel like I begin to understand more of what's going on as the game progresses. Granted, the events of the first game had to happen, but the pacing of the story in DDS2 is far superior.

There are still, of course, some downsides:

1) Level Design - still plain, still linear, still mostly a bunch of hallways. They do, at least, continue throwing in random interesting puzzles.

2) Voice Acting - still terrible. Distractingly terrible.

The bottom line is: if you liked the first game, you'll definitely appreciate the second.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2005
Digital Devil Saga 2 is arguably better than it's predecessor, as it contains several more features than the first, as well as a better soundtrack. The game also utilizes the same engine as the last two "Megaten" games on the Playstation 2 (Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne and SMT: Digital Devil Saga 1). The only changes to the engine are the status screen and some of the combat features, but otherwise everything else is still the same.

The game is primarily a dungeon crawler, featuring numerous random encounters. That being said, in-game combat is essentially one of the most important parts of the game. Leveling up is not the only key to success though, as you will also have to harness the game's "press turn icon" system: When you fall into combat, your turns appear in the upper right hand corner as icons. You gain one icon for each member of your party, and depending on how you act in battle, you can use half an icon per move or blow all of your icons in one action. This adds a level of strategy to the usual 'old school turn based RPG' that has so far made each successive SMT game very enjoyable. The game also features combos, which add another level of strategy to the game. And before I move on, I must mention the "demon" factor. When you go into combat, your party members are transformed into their demon avatars. The demon avatars have at their disposal the usual spells, skills, attacks, and items. If however you are surprised (or chose to revert), you will be a human in combat. As a human you will only have the ability to use some combos and your gun. You also will have severely reduced defense as a human. Depending on the situation though, it may be beneficial to be a human. How this plays out is for you to discover.

The sound effects for the game are the same as they were in DDS 1 (as well as to a certain extent, the same as they were in SMT: N.) These sound effects are good though, and they easily capture the feel of combat. None of the sounds are inappropriate, and sometimes they can actually perplex you - you may be surprised to hear what a certain fearsome demon sounds like when he dies.

The voice acting is also the same as it was in DDS 1, which varies depending on each character. There are some characters who have well established voice actors (I.E. Gale has the voice actor of the same person who played Roger Smith from Big O). Other characters have actors that seem to deliver their lines flat, and you will either end up not caring much for them or cringe... depending on how critical you are. For the most part though, the voice acting is good (much better than games such as Dark Cloud 2.)

The music for the game is over all better than it was in the first DDS. While the music in DDS was comprised mostly of hard guitar music or techno, the music in DDS 2 merges the two together. The battle music is now a fast paced guitar and break beat onslaught. Many of the areas in the game are grinding techno tracks that feature all sorts of synths. This game easily has one of the best soundtracks that I have ever heard in quite a while.

But probably the most important aspect of Digital Devil Saga 2 is indeed it's storyline. All things considered, one should definitely not play DDS 2 without playing DDS 1 first. There is a strong chance that the player could probably grasp the story of DDS 2 without dealing with 1, but it would easily reduce the fun factor. Half of the fun in DDS 2 is easily finding out what has happened since the big changes that went down in DDS 1. There are also rewards for those who took the time to complete (or download a save from) DDS 1, as the game checks your memory card for your DDS 1 file. While I will not get into the details, you can easily have all of your party members be given a significant increase in status, as well as unlocking several very helpful items to give you a needed boost to help you complete the game. There are also skills that you can only obtain if you made a couple correct choices in DDS 1.

Still, the game easily stands alone by itself, but part of the enjoyment of playing the 'sequil' is taken away by not first playing the prequil. The sequel by itself is superior to the prequel, in the fact that it has: A much more complete story, more character customization, more combat strategy, and a completely revamped "mantra" system. As it stands, DDS 2 is indeed the "real" part of the Digital Devil Saga.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2005
The second DDS does a great job in explaining the mysteries in the DDS1, and leaves more unanswered mysteries for the players to contemplate.

Serph, the leader of the Tribe Embron in Junkyard (a computer generated combat experiment platform,) and his comrades finally reached Nirvana. However they only found the situation no better than Junkyard: people still kill and devour others to survive, and what's worse, the sun is corrupted and its radiation turns human beings into stone.

Two major groups exist in this real world: general public who have to live in an undergroud city; and the technologically excelled Karma Society, whose members have to hunt down the underground citizens for food. Constant battling has been going on... and it would be Serph's new task to put an end to this chaos.

DDS2 has a lot of improvements over the first one:

1. Mantra system is shifted to hexagonal format instead of the old linear format. Players can really customize their characters without having to spend a long time for mantra mastering in order to learn the desired skills.

2. Introduction of Karma Rings brings more flexibility to combat strategy. Various Karma Rings can boost up different stats, interfere with turn system, alters weakness/strength, imparts status modification in battle... and the ultimate one can even nullify nearly all attacks. Sweet!

3. Apart from having suprise attacks as human form, DDS2 also introduced Berserker mode, in which the characters cannot control their demonic power and go insane. Berserkers have a status of super high physical attack, nearly no defense, and inability to cast any spell. If the player won the battle with berserk players, more experience point can be earned.

4. Some new mantras and skills are also added. You'll also hit into a Jackfrost hosting a quiz contest for you. If you managed to answer 100 questions correctly, at the final dungeon you can recover the strongest bullet and a Karma ring.

The only drawback of this game is about party changes: Nearly every one of your characters will be out of the party for a while... if you are the classical one-man-is-attacker, one-man-is-healer, and one-man-is-magician type of RPG player, you'll find yourself in a very deep trouble. Make sure you have a balanced party, so balanced that if anyone dropped out, you'll still be fine.

I don't want to spoil the game but the ending of this game is really thought provoking. It's worth to beat the final boss a few times to watch this again. And don't worry, as usual the SMT series has very easy final boss. :)

And at last, some tips:

1. The disk cover is two-sided. Take it out from the plastic box, reverse it and you'll have a new cover!

2. If you have the old DDS1 clear save, you can unlock a few new Karma Rings, improve the starting stats of the characters, and gain some more money at the beginning. You can also play hard mode at the first time without going through the normal mode.

3. Hard mode has a super hidden boss.

4. If you have cleared it once, you can replay in the second cycle. If your second cycle is normal, you can inherit all the Karma Rings, Mantra experience, learnt skills, and discovered combos. You'll also get a new Karma ring allowing you to keep the characters in Berserker mode; and a new skill allowing a constant human form in battle. If your second cycle is hard, you can only get the berserker ring and the new human form skill. Nothing else.

5. If you made correct choices in DDS1 and DDS2, throughout the game you can also learn three character-specific skills. And those choices can also dictate if Heat (the old Embryon member) or Roland (the leader of the underground city) would join you at last.

Beated it for multiple times? No worry! The new series Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidou will be out in Japan this winter! An all improved Shin Megami Tensei with Japan as story stage. Let's see what would happen.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Atlus makes some of the darkest RPG games in the business. They play in worlds haunted by demons and disasters, with characters that are often ambivalent at best. Lots of violence as well. Just the thing to attract and hold my attention. Digital Devil Saga 2 is no exception and my only regret is that I never bought the original game, so it took a bit to figure out what was going on. Suddenly you are running and fighting and a bit too busy for idle conversation. But, gradually, the pieces of an intricate and multi-layered tale unfold - as full of betrayals and maneuvering as they are with difficult battles.

Character development hinges on leveling up and acquiring mantras, which are a bit like battle programs. Gradually the player will add strengths and techniques until the characters work well individually and in combination. This isn't a simply process and is one of the strength's of the game. One frequently has to think about how to approach a battle rather than just running in and slaughtering everything in reach. And your choices really do affect outcomes rather than just change the battle graphics.

The story development is handled quite well too. Characters have interesting dialog and the plot (there actually is a plot) contains a much to interest the player. The idea of a digital universe with its own spiritual basis is intriguing. Atlus uses call shaded graphics, which may take a bit to get used to, but these allow a stylishness to the illustration and animation that are often lacking in the heavily CGI laden realism we've been getting used to. I enjoyed the game visually and the soundtrack as well, although it was a bit to raucous for my tastes.

I really don't feel that playing the games out of order is a serious problem. Although there is some initial confusion most of the story falls easily into place, and I'm not all that sure that knowing the reasons behind some of the questions in the first part would really be a spoiler. You still have to play the games, defeat the 'other' monsters, and solve the puzzles. Truth be told, part one is getting harder to find and part two is too much fun not to play it just because it's out of order.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2012
This game is the last part in the story of Digital Devil Saga, so gamers who've played the first part should probably get a copy of this. DDS2 pulls off certain bonuses if DDS1 save data has met certain requirements (e.g. defeated certain special bosses), but its not really too big of a game breaker. The ending of this game pretty much concludes the story in a nice manner, but then again there's kind of a strange "what the heck" moment at the end that I myself didn't really enjoy. The music did not fancy my ears as much as I would hope, (Oh the Embryon Base was better than most tracks in my opinion) but it continues to add in Indian mythology and that's not too bad.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2006
From the major cliff hanger of the first game, this one picks right up where the last one drops off. I feel the game play is about the same with some minor improvments but I feel the story is alot more concrete in this one. The first game was more of just the introduction and the begging of this, one of a kind, story. I highly reccomend this for those who have played and enjoyed the first one. I can also say that if you haven't played the first game, this can still be an enjoyable story told to where you can still understand what is going on.
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on July 20, 2014
Atlus’s Shin Megami Tensei series gained a decent following with the release of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, which critics praised for its uniqueness, among the positive aspects being the Press Turn Icon battle system. Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga received positive ovation as well, being the first of a two-part series that would conclude with Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2, which is a solid experience like its predecessor.

Upon starting a new game, the player can import data from the first game, which can influence the player’s final party in the sequel and also allows for selectable difficulty.

The structure of randomly-encountered battles (with players able to increase or decrease the rate with specific items) remains largely the same as in the first game, with the sequel using the Press Turn Icon System introduced in Nocturne, where exploiting enemy weaknesses only consumes half a turn icon and voided, repelled, or drained attacks consume more or all icons. A new type of random encounter in the sequel may occasionally occur during full or nearly-full Solar Noises where the player’s party of up to three active characters is stuck between human and demon form, in which instance they can only attack normally or use HP-consuming physical skills, with the miss rate being higher than average but damage being greater.

The sequel does make more significant characters, for instance, allowing each character to wear a Karma Ring that the player can customize with special jewels for increased stats, with certain Rings having special powers as well. The biggest change is in the Mantra system that allows each character to learn new skills, where all Mantras are now on a grid of hexagons, and mastered Mantras unlock adjacent Mantras for further skill development. The battle system works well for the most part, although there are some daunting bosses towards the end, and Digital Devil Saga 2, like its predecessor, is one of those games where victory is far more dependent upon each character’s skill set rather than standard levels.

The game interface largely remains unchanged with regards to the menu system, Karma Terminals, and handy system of automaps, although there is an added convenience where the player can select a menu option repeatedly to have characters automatically cast healing spells on the party, even if they don’t have them currently equipped in their skill sets. There are still some flaws such as the fact that dying forces the player to slog through all the company screens instead of merely allowing them to reload their last saved game right away, but otherwise, the sequel interfaces well with the player.

The sequel continues its predecessor’s plot, with some interesting twists, elaboration on the first game’s storyline, and even the fact that some choices made in the first game affect events in the sequel. The plot can also be a decent reward at times for tough boss battles. The translation is largely flawless in spite of maybe one tiny error, but otherwise, the narrative and translation are well above average.

Shoji Meguro returns to compose the sequel’s soundtrack, with plenty of catchy techno themes such as the Karma Society Tower music. The voice acting is also solid like in the first game, although there are some instances in battle where it can be difficult to hear what the characters are saying when the battle begins. Otherwise, a great-sounding game.

The visuals are largely the same as they were in the first game, a gorgeous and gothic cel-shaded style, with the only real shortcoming being the jaggies at times.

Finally, depending upon the player’s skills and a little luck, one can make it through the game in as little as twenty-five hours, although replays and other extras can easily pad out potential playtime.

In the end, Digital Devil Saga 2 is pretty much the epitome of what a direct sequel should be, building upon its predecessor’s mechanisms and consequentially feeling different enough to be far from derivative. The battle system, control scheme, solid story, aurals, and visuals are all-around solid, and although the game may be hard at times, even on the Normal difficulty setting, one could easily describe the sequel as rewarding, given the sometimes-long cutscenes that follow tough boss fights, and those who liked the first game will most likely enjoy the sequel as well.

The Good:
+Solid, sometimes rewarding gameplay.
+Tight control with a new healing shortcut.
+Superb story and localization
+Excellent music and voice acting.
+Nice cel-shaded visuals.

The Bad:
-Some enemies and bosses can be cheap.

The Bottom Line:
A great sequel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2012
Honestly, this series (DDS) is my favorite of all time. The characters are so deep, the plot is amazingly thought provoking and complex and the battle system is unique and strategic. DDS 1 and 2 are required playing for any RPG fan.
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