Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner PS2 Review

May 31, 2010 by Simon Wigham  
Filed under PS2, Retro Content, Retro Reviews

The two previous Shin Megami games both received glowing nine out of ten reviews from Console Obsession. The new game Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Radiou Kuzonoha vs. the Soulless Army (to be called Devil Summoner from hereon in, otherwise we might break our poor old keyboard!) is not a part of the wonderful Digital Devil Saga series and is also nowhere near as good.

Devil Summoner takes place in an alternate history of Japan, where demons roam the streets and magic is a possibility. So much more interesting then boring old real history then, apart from the part with Samurai’s with sharp swords, that is.

Keeping on the subject of the narrative, you take on the role of a Japanese high-school student (it’s up to you to name him) who is next in line, to become a Devil Summoner. After a brief tutorial, you’ll receive the title of Raidou Kuzonoha and a job at the Narumi Detective Agency complete with partner, which it must be mentioned is a talking cat. Yes it’s all rather crazy and a bit more light-hearted than recent offerings, but still remains dark and twisted enough, so as to appease the hardcore fans of the series.

Like just about every other Shin Megami game, Devil Summoner is essentially a dungeon crawler, that’s heavy on the random battles and a bit lacking if you’re looking for a substantial story. But, whilst on the surface it may appear to be identical to other games, in many ways Devil Summoner is very different.

As we mentioned, the game still features the much maligned random battles and an encounter rate that is best described as sky high (you even battle whilst in town on this one). But the combat itself, whilst still having an emphasis on exploiting enemy weakness is no longer turn based and instead is much like an action RPG.

Raidou has few attacks, with just two sword attacks and a gun that can be loaded with different elemental ammo, each of which is strong against particular opponents. Initially combat is rather fun (though never fantastic) but due to the sheer number of skirmishes, from time to time it does get a bit boring, but interest is somewhat sustained with the rather nice demon collection system.

Like many other Shin Megami games, demons can be captured (done so here by first weakening them and then hammering the circle button) and then used in any future battles. You can only summon one of these comical demons ( it’s almost worth capturing them, just to hear their amusing comments) at a time and they’re controlled by the AI. Simple commands can be given to them, but you’ll probably find that the majority of the time they manage to do a respectable job, when they‘re just pleasing themselves.

Back in town, two demons can be merged with one another, allowing you to create a new, stronger one. Thankfully, this is a more clear process than the trial and error method of Lucifer’s call, allowing you to see the effects, prior to taking the plunge.

The story is merely passable, whilst the all important gameplay, is occasionally compulsive but ultimately little more than average. Devil Summoner is bargain bin fodder at best and not at all deserving of the Shin Megami title that such classic games as the two Digital Devil Saga’s bear. A disappointment to say the very least.

6/10

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