Rend... Slaughter... Devour your enemies! There is no other way to survive. You cannot escape your hunger, Warriors of Purgatory!
A Spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei JRPG series for the PlayStation 2, divided into two parts. Developed by Atlus, the first game was released in Japan in 2004 with the second following in 2005.All is not well in the realm of the Junkyard, a wartorn land living under blackened skies and perpetual rain. An endless war is being fought between six Tribes struggling for dominance over the Junkyard. The Karma Temple, a neutral party that moderates the war, has decreed that the Tribe who defeats all the others to control every sector of the Junkyard shall be awarded the ultimate prize: the right to ascend to Nirvana, a mythical paradisefree of war or strife.The Embryon Tribe, led by the calm and silent Serph, is locked in a stalemate with the nearby Vanguards Tribe. During one of their skirmishes, they encounter a mysterious egg-shaped relic that neither side can identify. Neither Tribe acknowledges ownership of the device, and both demand the other remove it or risk considering it as provocation for war. Before they can act, the relic explodes, sending out beams of light that pierce the bodies of the combatants and transform them into bloodthirsty demons. Regaining their senses and awakening to a bloodbath, Serph and the Embryon investigate the crater left by the relic and discover a young girl with black hair and no identifying Tag Ring.Soon afterwards, the Karma Temple issue a new decree: that the Tribes must use their new-found demonic power- known as "Atma"- to break the stalemate of the Junkyard and devour their competition. They also add a new condition: that the winning Tribe must capture and present the black-haired girl to the Karma Temple in order to be allowed into Nirvana. But demonic strength was not the only thing granted to the inhabitants of the Junkyard; they have also awakened a new power called "emotion".The members of the Embryon are:
The second game follows directly from the events of the first. The Embryon have triumphed and ascended to Nirvana. However, what they find there is not paradise, but a new hell in which the rays of a blackened sun have turned the entire population of the world into stone statues. The only survivors are those who live underground or under the thumb of the Karma Society. To make things worse, Sera is their prisoner and Heat has turned Sixth Ranger Traitor on you. Fortunately, two new members join the Embryon:
Absurdly Spacious Sewer - Admittedly DDS1 at least doesn't need to give any reasons as to why they shouldn't be huge, since the entire world is a virtual reality, but the ones in DDS2 make no sense.
After the End - In DDS2, we find out that most of humanity was killed off five years ago, when God started turning everyone human who was touched by the sun into stone. The Junkyard also seems to be built on the ruins of a dead civilization, although that turns out to be false.
A God Am I - Serph Sheffield's master plan was to gain God's power, but hoo boy did that backfire. Horribly.
Apocalypse How - The events of the series are kicked into motion by a Planetary-scale Civilization Disruption. Brahma attempts a Planetary/Physical Annihilation Apocalypse in Digital Devil Saga 2.
Arbitrary Head Count Limit - No, we never get any rationale for why you can only have three people in your party. Presumably the remaining two plus whatever hang-ons you currently have are hanging in the back, scarfing the leftovers.
He doesn't use Megidolaon if you don't use any skill or items that counters or protect against his ice attacks. But getting hit by Megidolaon spam is better than getting your party frozen all the time... unless you are playing in Hard mode and you aren't overleveled (in that case Megidolaon spam means certain death).
Beehive Barrier: Whenever an attack is reflected, whether it be physical or magical.
Biodata: Everything is made up of Data and said data travels back and forth between Earth and the Sun, which is how reincarnation is possible. This is also why people are able to become demons via the Atma Virus: a human's data also has the code for the demon data that exist inside them.
Bi the Way - Some players interpret Heat this way because of how he calls Seraph "cute" when you talk to him at The Sun.
Blessed with Suck - The Atma virus grants one the power to morph into a powerful demon, capable of using magic and physical feats. The price one pays is that one must devour other people and demons, but one can never be fully satiated. If a person goes for a prolonged period of time without feeding, he/she becomes a demon permanently, insane and attacks anything and anyone.
Bonus Boss - Several. Killing the ones in the first game nets you a bonus in the sequel. The first game's strongest enemy, the Demi-fiend (from Nocturne), is probably the hardest Bonus Boss ever to appear in a RPG, although a GameFAQs poster called Red Star found a weakness that makes the fight easier. "Easier", in this case, means that after you've managed to do enough Level Grinding and farming of randomly dropped stat boosting items to hit the statistic caps (though hitting the max luck stat actually makes the battle HARDER), you might actually be able to win the fight on your third try instead of your thirtieth (with each try lasting more than 1 hour). Satan, in the second game, manages to be almost as difficult.
To add insult to injury on an extremely hard fight, the battle music is the regular Nocturne battle theme, meaning you are nothing more than a random encounter to him.
This is further exemplified by the set of demons he uses and his attacks. Javelin Rain, Heat Wave, Xeros-Beat and the absolute overkill that is Gaea's Rage are actually MEDIOCRE attacks in Nocturne. If he WAS actually concerned about you, he'd be using high-level demons like Metatron, Shiva, Daishoujou and Beelzebub, as well as whipping out attacks like Spiral Viper, Deadly Fury, and Freikugel. Even with maxed out stats he would have wiped the floor with you if he actually WAS trying, even without Death Flies.
Character Development - Quite visible throughout both games, but most especially in the first. The characters start off emotional blank slates, awaken to a single powerful emotion, and develop from there. Argilla goes from initial horror and disgust about her situation to grudging acceptance to eventually being quite at peace with herself. Gale takes the longest to emotionally awaken since he's a calm tactician, but by the end he's grown far beyond what he once was.
Cielo: What happened to "I do not comprehend?" [Gale's Spock catchphrase]
Gale: Some things cannot be comprehended, only felt.
Chest Monster - Besides the regular kind there is also one door in the second game that looks like a Save Room, but is actually a trap set by the enemies. Instead of a save point you find an unavoidable battle against 2 waves of baddies... Did I mention that you were probably half dead at this point to begin with?
It's not as deceptive as you think—it's the only other door in the room it's found in.
Curtains Match the Window - Everyone in the junkyard. Actually a plot point, as their eyes only start matching their brightly-coloured hair after their emotions awaken. Before that, they're all a uniform flat gray.
Which leads to fridge brilliance. Serph's eyes AND hair are both grey. He has no real emotions since Sera didn't know his personality.
Dark Reprise - The music when fighting Heat and some other bosses in Digital Devil Saga 2 is called Hunting - Betrayal, which is a reprise of the regular battle theme from the first game.
Demonic Possession - This happens when the personality of the Atma Avatar overpowers the personality of the human. Examples include Beelzebub, Metatron, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Michael and Satan. Especially heart-wrenching in the case of Metatron because the human who transforms into Metatron was desperately searching for his girlfriend and tried to fight Metatron's influence unsuccessfully.
Eleventh Hour Superpower - In the sequel, Serph and Sera merge on their journey to the Sun, becoming the androgynous being, Seraph. Keeping with Hindu overtones, Seraph's demon form is Ardhanarishvara, or Ardha for short.
Evil Feels Good - Somewhat. Heat's expression when he transforms the first time.
Foreshadowing - The story of the two princes and princess in the amusement park in the first game, particularly the scrambled parts that call into doubt the real motivations of the "Good Prince" and "Evil Prince." In their previous lives, Heat was the only one who genuinely cared about Sera, while Serph and the others were just manipulating her. Interestingly, it's not until the second game that it becomes relevant.
A bit more minor but a skill you can obtain in the first game is named "Black Sun", hinting of the situation in the second game.
Hermaphrodite - You know what Sera's mother and father have in common? They're both Jenna Angel.
Sera and Serph also become one towards the end of the second game. Like mother/father, like daughter/son?
Heroic Mime - Serph. Lampshaded by Heat, who criticizes him for not speaking up enough.
Not only is it Lampshaded by Heat "You know this wouldn't happen if you'd just speak up more", it's also done by Gale in the second game "It's ok, you don't have to say anything" (funny because DDS2 is the game where we actually do get to hear Serph talk)
Healing Checkpoint: Large Karma Terminals do this. Small ones normally don't, but some Small Terminals might have a Life Terminal next to them to do the same job. (Small Terminals can also transport you to a large one if you need healing enough that you're willing to walk back.)
Heroic Sacrifice: All main characters die in the most badass and heart crushing way. By the end of the game, you won't have any tears anymore.
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: This happens to a lot of characters: Heat gets stabbed by Bat, Serph gets stabbed by Heat, Gale and Angel impale each other, Cielo getting impaled by a piece of air plane wreckage . . . and then there's Chernobog who impales himself during certain attacks.
Incredibly Lame Pun - The skeletons in the theme park dungeon of Coordinate 136 are quite fond of these.
Skeleton: I'm sure you've already figured out that you're boned... Skeleton: Tired of falling yet? Aww, I'm just ribbin' ya.
I Need You Stronger: Roland reveals in the first game that the tribes of the Junkyard were forced to kill each other and ascend to Nirvana because the winning tribe's data would be copied and programmed into microchips.
Injured Vulnerability: A lot of the demons are easier to Devour once their Health's low enough, and there are actual devour skills/stat boosts that work better that way.
Kill 'em All - Twice! Nothing is left of the Junkyard at the end of the first game, and, by the end of the second, every last member of the Embryon is dead—the last dungeon is inside the sun, after everyone's been killed! Good thing reincarnation is a very real thing in this particular series...
La Résistance - The Underground City residents in the sequel. They call themselves the "Lokapala" (Guardians of the Gods)
Late Arrival Spoiler: The fact that the first game is in a computer is pretty blatant by the name of the upcoming cellphone prequel Test Server.
Lethal Joke Character: Cielo and Null Sleep. In the first game, Cielo's absymal stats and weakness to ailment attacks make him The Load. Null Sleep is a skill that causes you to automatically dodge any attack, but only if you're under the Sleep ailment: a skill so conditional that it's a waste of a skill slot. The two intersect if you choose to fight Bonus BossDemi-Fiend, where Null Sleep is required to avoid defeat and Cielo's weakness makes him the best candidate to use it.
Cielo actually was intended to be like this all the time. His bizarre stat point distribution is intended to work with immunities to individual ailments (this requires you to realize all enemies in a given area tend to specializa in the same ailment) and the Press Turn system to cheat enemies out of their turns. Nobody reasoned how on earth this was supposed to work, so Atlus gave him one or two extra levels in badass in the second game to help clarify how Cielo was meant to be played.
Level Grinding - Has a minor form, Skill Grinding. Certain dungeons are made easier if the party has the right skills equipped, and you may have to grind to get them. The Karma Temple at the end of the first Digital Devil Saga requires certain skills to avoid the combination death the random encounters throw at you.
Lip Lock: Even though the voiceactorsareveryexperiencedin voicingforeignanimation, the dialogue has as much awkward pauses and speed variations as other examples in this page; the care put into the lip matching with the Japanese dialogue certainly doesn't help. It's less noticeable when the characters are in their demon forms, but the rest of the time.... yeah.
Doubly so for Serph. Not only is his name pronounced like "surf" (his affinity is with water/ice), see the spoiler for The Messiah below for a second meaning.
"Bat" in the first game is the name of the human whose demon form is Camazotz, a giant bat. This probably sounded a little cooler and less literal to the developers since English wasn't their primary language.
Subverted for Seraph who isn't associated with Expel-type attacks.
The Messiah - Sera. Even more so after she fuses with Serph to become the not-so-subtly-named Seraph.
Nintendo Hard - Although the games are relatively easy compared to many other Megaten games, they're still harder than most JRPGs. (On the other hand, the two Bonus Bosses noted above are insane even by Megaten standards.)
Might happen for the player when the Security sytem core activates the apply named genocide mode.
An in-universe example, the scientists' and Madame's reactions to God absorbing the Earth's data.
One Game for the Price of Two - The two games each contain only half the story, and are not intended to stand alone. Fortunately, each volume contains enough content and the thematic division is strong enough that it doesn't seem like a mere Revenue Enhancing Device. Taken together, you're pretty sure to get some 140+ hours out of the games.
There are also a significant number of changes to the gameplay system: a new character advancement system and the ability to equip Rings, to name two. Oh, and Cielo is no longer The Load.
Half-subverted in that teaching a character mantras from his opposing element is actually more effective, as attack spells and resist spells tend to come bundled.
Petal Power: The physical special ability, "Sakura Rage".
Pigeonholed Voice Actor - Crispin Freeman provides the voice of Heat, and Steve Blum is the voice of Gale in the games' US release.
Also, Yuri Lowenthal is Serph and Schrodinger, Dave Wittenberg is Cielo, Amanda Winn-Lee is Argilla and Wendee Lee is Sera. Pretty much all of them are seasoned Mega Ten voices, most notably Yuri and Dave.
Played for Drama - A lot of the things you take for granted because DDS is a videogame; for instance, the Junkyard's complete lack of backstory form plot elements.
Quirky Miniboss Squad - Subverted. You fight the Tribhvana a few times, and each time, they run off. Then you run into one of them alone... with blood dripping out of his mouth, patting his stomach ominously. Turns out he killed and ate the other two members to gain their powers.
Occasionally, your party members will get one before taking on some enemies.
Angel gets an epic one when some Karma Society soldiers attempt to arrest her for treason.
Power Tattoo - The ability to transform into a demon is marked through a tattoo on the user's skin. In the picture above, Serph's is on his left cheek, Argilla's is above her breasts. These glow when the user transforms.
Pity the woman who has her tattoo on her butt cheek.
Reincarnation - Almost every member of the Junkyard was once a person in the real world. It's arguable as to whether most of your main party members are reincarnations, or newly created souls modeled after formerly living people in the real world. Made even more confusing by Lupa, whose real-life analogue was Fred's dad and the former leader of Lokapala, who died after the Junkyard was apparently created. How would Sera have even known about him, anyway?
What happens to the Embryon at the end, as they did not achieve enlightenment themselves. The same goes for Sera and Serph who reincarnate while Seraph does not, as they did not achieve it as individuals.
Ridiculously Cute Critter - Nasty effects aside, it's hard not to admit that the bat form looks really cute, especially when compared to the rest of the game.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale - Averted. If you know your metric prefixes, you know that 945.56 zettabytes per second is a huge amount of data transferred per unit time. For comparison, Wikipedia says that the rate of data generation worldwide is about one zettabyte per year. In DDS, everything is made of data, so when that much data from Earth is uploaded to the Sun, the results are... not good.
Serious Business - The motto of Johnny the Mad-Mart Express owner in the second game. Justified, in that he usually appears where there are enemies everywhere, and someone has to deliver the items...
Shoot the Dog - Quite a few, but most notably Jinana and literally Lupa.
Shout Out -If you talk to the prisoners in the Human Resources prison/factory one of them says "If you devour me I'll become more powerful than your digestive system can ever imagine"
So Long, and Thanks for All the Gear - Inverted, characters who leave will master their currently equipped skills if they leave the party, no matter how long it would normally take.
Something Completely Different - Most of the Shin Megami Tensei series is about collecting demons (or in the case of the Persona series, collecting Personas). Digital Devil Saga bucks the trend by having your protagonists be demons themselves, and instead of collecting enemies to get new abilities, you simply destroy them to level up. It's oddly much more like a conventional console RPG in this manner (though the subject matter is anything but conventional).
Statistically Speaking: Heat leans to higher strength, and is able to throw around people single handedly and break stone walls in a single punch (while untransformed) in cutscenes.
The Worf Effect: One boss shrugs off a blow to the face from Heat and then grabs his fist.
Though in one scene he claims he is stronger than Serph, even if Serphs strength stats is higher.
Super Power Lottery - The Atma Virus grants you the ability to turn into a demon but you have no control over what demon form you get. Results range from gigantic nigh-invulnerable golden dragons to pathetic amorphous blobs.
Taken for Granite - Sunlight turns every normal human to stone in the sequel. Very few humans escaped petrification and those so affected are irreversibly dead, due to them being turned into extremely crumbly statues. Yes, it's just as creepy as it sounds.
The Very Definitely Final Dungeon - In the first game, the Karma Temple. In the second, The Sun. Both of these are absurdly long and easily dwarf the final dungeon of these game's direct predecessors, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. Hell, they may even be longer than the entire rest of their respective games.
Took a Level in Badass - Cielo in the second game. His weakness to ailments was toned down, making him much more useful, and he gets some pretty great scenes such as taking down three fighter jets with his body. Of course, it's a Heroic Sacrifice.
Sera too. When Serph is presumed dead, she literally becomes his Distaff Counterpart and assumes leadership of the Embryon, until Serph returns.
Unexpected Shmup Level: In the second game there is a bonus minigame where one can play through 3 shmup levels with Cielo featuring Beelzebub as the final boss.
Vendor Trash - The Cells in the first game and varied plants in the second. Any time you get a Cell from a box, they are noted as materials sought by the Karma Temple, and living plants are just that valuable in Nirvana. Interestingly, this foreshadows the fact the Cells, as commented by a surviving Wolf in Ajna, are unnatural to the Junkyard, and are implied to be some sort of probe sent to analyze it.
Wham Line: The first game is full of them, but the most notable one is delivered by Lupa and then you realise that there is something seriously off about the Junkyard.
Lupa: Have you ever seen a child here in the Junkyard?
What Is This Thing You Call Love? - The members of the Embryon (particularly Heat) struggle to make sense of why they feel anger, remorse, and affection towards themselves and each other after gaining their Atma.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Presumably Jinana and Lupa are reincarnated, but it's left pretty uncertain as to just exactly what happened.
What The Hell Villain - Close to the end of DDS2, Gale, who is created from the solar data of Jenna's former lover David, calls Jenna on her actions, reminding Jenna of the promises Jenna made to David to help mankind. Jenna does not take this well.
White-Haired Pretty Boy - Serph qualifies only for hair and looks;the human from whom he was created on the other hand...
You Gotta Have Blue Hair - In an interesting take on this trope, everyone in the Junkyard has an improbable hair colour except for Sera, whose black hair is utterly alien to the inhabitants – it's even Lampshaded near the start of the first game, when the various Tribes are ordered to locate "the black-haired girl". Those who are living in the real world, such as Roland and Fred, have more realistic hair colours.