Some games embody JRPG stereotypes more than others. The release of Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker (DS2RB)—wow, that's a mouthful—is exactly that. Teenagers in a high school? Check. Female characters with ridiculously massive breasts? Check. Demons? Double and triple check. So many demons. But in this case, it's a good thing.
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 was originally released on the DS in North America in 2012. Three years later, we get a whole new experience with Record Breaker. It's everything DS2 was, plus so much more. When first starting DS2RB, you get to choose between the original Septentrione Arc and the new Triangulum Arc, exclusive to this port. So, if you are familiar with the story, you can jump straight into all of the new goodness.
For those of you who are not familiar with the DS2RB plot, here is the general idea: there is a new website that sends you a video of people you know dying…before it happens. Just moments into the game, you have the choice of dying or continuing on to fight off demons. (Hint: don't choose to die or it is game over.) Defeated demons can be recruited and even fused to maximize the best traits and abilities. You advance through branching dialogue trees, similar to a visual novel. With multiple story options and endings, things can end wonderfully or, well, horribly. Nonetheless, there is what the developers call the, "true ending," but if you want to know what that is, you'll need to play the game for yourself.
One of the most important features of the game is the clock. Each major decision you make advances the clock by 30 minutes. The battle system works like any other RPG, and the overall gameplay is rather immersive. You need to advance quickly through Septentriones, as you only have a week to prevent annihilation. Triangulum, set afterwards, doesn't require you to feel so pressured. It felt kind of nice after hours of gameplay where I was afraid of losing teammates.
Record Breaker brings with it all new voice overs for all of the dialogue. This is a huge improvement, as you get the voices playing while you read. It allowed me to slow down and really empathize with the characters instead of just glancing over the text. Story-heavy sections of the game include newly animated cutscenes that reiterate Record Breaker’s cinematic appeal.
While I don't typically go for games as darkly sinister as Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker, it was a great play through, bolstered by an excellent story and even better presentation. The original game touts a whopping 60-80 hours of intense story and great RPG action, and the new Triangulum campaign brings with it an additional 30-40 hours of gameplay. If you love a good RPG and have yet to try a game from the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, this is certainly a good place to start.
Review by: Mike Ackerman | Reviewed on: Nintendo 3DS