Originally released on January 15, 2009 in Japan and on June 23, 2009 in North America for the Nintendo DS Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor (known as Megami Ibunroku Devil Survivor back in its homeland) was the start of the ninth and most recent sub-series of Atlus’s Megami Tensei franchise.
Devil Survivor isn’t a straightforward RPG like many of its brethren under the Megami Tensei umbrella. It is an SRPG, a sort of Spiritual Successor to the old Maijin Tensei games (thankfully with none of Ronde’s legendary awfulness) that combines the classic tabletop gameplay of the genre with traditional turn-based battles and many of the common elements players have come to expect from the Megami Tensei games: a veritable kitchen sink of demons from all corners of world religion and mythology, the forces of Heaven and Hell colliding, lawful and chaotic discord, and Multiple Endings. The main conceit of the Devil Survivor series is generally that some sort of calamity will descend upon Japan (since Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe, after all) and the world will end after a period of one week. Armed with the foreknowledge of their own impending deaths, the characters under the player’s control must harness the power of demons to survive these seven days and find a way to save the world. As is standard for the franchise, exactly how the world is saved, or perhaps even destroyed, relies upon choices that the player makes.
I will not be playing the original version of the game for this liveblog. Instead I will be playing its updated port for the Nintendo 3DS, Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor Overclocked, released in North America on August 23, 2011 and in Japan as Devil Survivor Overclock on September 1, 2011 (yeah, the English version came out first, oddly enough, if only by a week). Overclocked contains a larger selection of demons and battle skills over the original, a difficulty selector (“Normal” and “Easy” - I'll naturally be going with Normal) as well as three new “8th Day” scenarios – essentially full-length Playable Epilogues for some of the original endings. Finally, and most impressively, it contains a full voice over; in fact, this game had the most voice acting out of any Atlus game at the time, even trumping Persona 4 and Catherine. I wouldn't be surprised if it still held that record, since while Shin Megami Tensei IV and the 3DS Soul Hackers port had a considerable amount of voiced content, they weren't fully voiced.
So here is our cast of survivors…
The central character, who in classic Megami Tensei tradition is a Heroic Mime. Don’t have all that much to comment on him at the moment, other than those goofy-looking headphones. I’ve seen people say that he’s an Expy of the protagonist from Persona 3, but I honestly don’t see the semblance apart from the blue hair.
One of The Hero’s friends who will accompany him throughout the game. Atsuro is a self-proclaimed otaku, and as you can see from the power icon on his hat and his…USB cable, he’s good with electronics. Which is very handy, since he’ll have many opportunities to exposit on the nature of the mysterious Demon Summoning Program that the characters wield.
The Chick of the group, if you couldn’t tell from the pink clothes and, obviously, gender. She doesn’t take all that well to the calamity that’s affected Tokyo, but since she’s the designated magic-user for most of the game she’s going to see a lot of action regardless.
The Hero’s cousin. Let’s see…white hair, red eyes, a perpetual grin…certainly someone with nothing but the noblest of intentions! He is Atsuro’s “teacher” in the art of computer hacking, and he is the one responsible for giving The Hero and his friends the means to fight back against demons and summon their own.
The daughter of the founder of the Shomonkai, a cult preaching the coming of God’s ordeal upon humanity. She and her fellow cultists are shown helping the people trapped by the government’s lockdown of Tokyo, and thus are looked upon more favorably than most Demon Tamers.
An old school friend of Atsuro’s. The two reunite during the events of the Tokyo Lockdown, but Atsuro claims that he's different from before...
A cosplayer who is the polar opposite of Yuzu in that she takes to the Tokyo Lockdown a little too well, heedlessly putting both herself and others in danger as the days go on.
The leader of a Shibuya street gang known as the Shibuya Daemons. He seeks to avenge his brother who died under mysterious circumstances, and will crush anyone who stands in his way.
An elementary school nurse who used to tutor Atsuro when he was younger. She shares a connection with Kaido and his deceased brother.
The owner of a bar located in Tokyo’s Omotesando neighborhood. He’s suspicious of the Shomonkai, and is a friend of the singer Haru.
A singer with the popular indie band D-Va. For some reason the demons seem to take an acute interest in the songs that she sings…
A member of the country’s special forces, sent to investigate the supernatural going-ons behind the walls of the Tokyo Lockdown.
A businessman who desperately wants to get out of the lockdown so that he can see his sick son, and will go to any lengths to do so.
Leader of the Shomonkai and Amane's father, this man believes that the only way to survive the Ordeal of God is to believe in the power of an entity referred to only as “His Majesty.”
A reporter trapped by the lockdown. Despite the dire situation she investigates onward, uncovering the true motives behind the events.
A strange, flashy man whom the Hero and his friends will encounter throughout the week. Who he is exactly is unknown, but he does know a lot about what’s going on behind the scenes and will dispense advice to the party if he feels like it.
A thing that longtime players of the franchise will notice is that the character designs are done not by any of the Atlus regulars like Kazuma Kaneko, Shigenori Soejima, or even Masayuki Doi. Instead the character designer for these games is the manga artist and illustrator Suzuhito Yasuda, whom most people will probably know of from the manga Yozakura Quartet or the light novels/anime Durarara!. So if one sees any expies amongst the cast, that’s why.