Reviews: Digital Devil Saga

Tough Love

Digital Devil Saga is one of those games that hates everyone and everything.

The gameplay hates us all whole heartedly, and wants us to die. Over and over. Those coming in from the Persona series will likely be shocked at how brutal the difficulty is. And while not as tough as Nocturne, there are still plenty of times you will be reloading and possibly snapping the controller in frustration. Somehow, though, the game never feels all that unfair or unbalanced; probably because the game wants you to feel like it was your fault whenever you see that game over screen. And you will be seeing it a lot.

The game hates your fancy pants HD TV as well. Thatís the only justification I have for how a PS 2 era game still uses its graphics to the best, and creates a beautiful setting. DDS sneers at the next gen systems and overcomes any hard drive difficulties by borrowing the cel shading engine from SMT: Nocturne and creating a world full of visual, stylized flare. The games have a wonderful cyber-hindu-punk vibe that you likely wonít find anywhere else, reflected in characters and setting. The in-game cutscenes can look a bit dated, but the fully rendered movies, environments, character and demon designs have all aged gracefully.

You might think the game at least likes your ears, but no. It only wants them to bleed by lulling you into a false sense of security with an all-star voice acting cast and amazing music, before springing Seraís singing voice on you. And then it has a chuckle at its own black mark in a sea of otherwise quality audio.

This game also hates your heart. Therefore, it will try to break it as often as possible. While the first game is sad and has its fair share of death and tragic moments, you will quickly realize going into the second game that your tear ducts were just getting warmed up. DDS only rubs salt in the wounds by being clever with its characterizations and plot twists, giving all the characters a chance to shine and keeps you guessing on the story before it puts you and its cast through the emotional wringer.

And yet somehow, I keep coming back to this game. Thereís something about the characters, plot, and design that makes me love DDS the most out of the entire Shin Megami Tensei series, even though it can be an angry, hateful little game. If nothing else, Digital Devil Saga sure does pack a wallop.