Originally released for the Nintendo DS on July 28, 2011 in Japan as Devil Survivor 2 and on February 28, 2012 in North America Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 is the second installment of the SRPG Megami Tensei spin-off.
Like any good sequel should, Devil Survivor 2 builds upon its predecessor and addresses its flaws. One of the flaws that the original Devil Survivor had was a rather limited roster of demons, even taking into account Overclocked's additions, and being stuck with the same four characters out of a cast of a dozen for 80% of the game. Devil Survivor 2 has a much more robust stock of demons and gives you more characters to play as and skills to equip pretty much right off the bat, allowing for a deeper degree of customization which is helped along by new gameplay elements and achievements to strive for. Overclocked did steal some of its thunder by debuting many of these new elements first (at least in North America), but all in all Devil Survivor 2 provides a very deep and challenging experience. It's a game of more: more characters, more demons, more locations, more death, and more swearing. Especially more swearing (Really. They drop literally everything but f-bombs and racial slurs.).
Content-wise the game is something of a departure from the first one. While the story element of the characters becoming demon tamers remains, rather than continue with the classic Megami Tensei themes of Order and Chaos Devil Survivor 2 features a new, astrology-based mythology while the familiar demons of the franchise are more window-dressing than anything else. Despite facing another world-ending scenario and the setting being even more bleak than the first game’s it’s oddly not as dark tonally, think of how Persona 4 was lighter compared to Persona 3, though not quite to the same extreme. That’s not to say there isn’t any darkness, there’s still plenty of it, but you can tell right away that things will be different just by looking at the interface: while Devil Survivor 1's dominant color was an angry red, Devil Survivor 2's is a calm, deep blue. The scenario will be amusingly familiar to viewers of certain mecha anime shows (even featuring monster designs by Mohiro Kitoh, author of infamous manga such as Narutaru and Bokurano), and like Persona 4 did this game received its own anime adaptation that aired during the Spring 2013 anime season.
Just like how Devil Survivor got an enhanced 3DS re-release, this one has one as well, featuring the subtitle of “Break Record”. Like Overclocked, Break Record has full voice acting and extra content, only instead of three additional days of gameplay it has a whole-new, seven day campaign, so it’s less like an enhanced re-release and more like getting two games in one. Assuming that the advertising isn’t being misleading, that probably means Break Record will take Overclocked’s title of having the most voice acting in any currently-released Atlus title. It was originally going to be released in June 2013, towards the end of the anime’s airing, but it got delayed and fell off the map for a while. Now however it’s slated for release in Japan on January 29, 2015, with a North American release presumably later in the year. As it stands I’ll be covering the original game first, and then going back to do Break Record’s new content when it eventually drops.
Our new list of survivors are:
Our latest in the line of Heroic Mime high schoolers, and this time I can actually buy people thinking that he resembles a Persona Hero, namely the one of Persona 5. Like the first Devil Survivor Hero he's got a goofy animal-based accessory: the two tails on his hoodie that end up resembling rabbit ears (though since he doesn't actually wear the hood much you can pretend it's a scarf). Despite the crisis he and his friends get caught up in he appears to have a strong, irreverent sense of humor as most of his dialogue options lead towards the playful and bizarre.
The Hero's friend. He's pretty much a total lackadaisical Butt-Monkey, having a rather neurotic streak and responsibility-shirking nature. Unfortunately for him he's thrust into a situation where one has no choice but to buckle up or die.
A girl in the Hero's and Daichi's grade, Io is quiet, studious, and very popular with the boys because of it. According to Daichi, at least. She isn't very assertive and is very much a follower, so naturally her character arc is growing out of that. If she survives, that is.
A young salaryman the Hero and his group soon encounter in Tokyo following the disaster and demon outbreak. He's so laid back that he's practically moving in reverse, though his cheery exterior conceals more serious personal matters.
The young leader of JP's, the secret organization that's tasked with, in his own words, defending Japan from the supernatural. Groomed to lead JP's from a very young age he has little in the way of emotions such as empathy and compassion. In his eyes only those with demonstrable skill are worthy individuals, and this philosophy drives much of the story's conflict.
A member of JP's who is more-or-less second in command as far as the characters are concerned. She's deeply loyal to the organization due to events in her past even though she doesn't always agree with it or Yamato’s way of doing things.
Fumi Kanno serves as the head of JP's science and research divisions. She's highly intelligent but highly eccentric in ways that make her come off as a rather cold version of a mad scientist, a title that she actually identifies with.
The cheerful JP's nurse works to balance the duties her job calls for as well as the pressures of being a young, adoptive mother.
A dancer from Osaka, this young woman has a burning passion to help those in need, leading to something of a reckless streak. But despite her stubborn qualities Hinako often emerges as the group's voice of reason. She also probably wins the award for “Most Stripperiffic Human Character in the Megami Tensei Franchise”.
Keita is a high school boxer from Osaka. Unlike his fellow Osakan Hinako, Keita is very anti-social and believes that having friends will only drag him down and weaken him. The number of characters he’s on good terms with can be counted on half of one hand.
Another high schooler, this time from Nagoya. Airi has the classic fiery and tempermental tsundere personality that leads to a one-sided rivalry with Hinako.
A quiet, simpleminded chef from Nagoya. Much like how Hinako and Airi have their thing going on, Keita has a one-sided rivalry with him over the value of friendships. His signature (read: only) dish is a kind of egg custard called chawanmushi, and he'll offer it to anyone who seems down or angry.
A half-Brazilian private detective from Nagoya. Ronaldo has a deep vendetta against JP's and Yamato in particular and in the wake of the calamity that has ravaged Japan he becomes the leader of an insurgency bent on foiling his enemy's plans...whatever they may be.
A mysterious and obviously otherworldly boy the characters encounter on and off throughout the week. Whoever he is, he clearly has an appraising eye on the Hero, whom he calls the Shining One.
A fun fact about the characters: they're all based after one of the Zodiac signs in some way, reflected in either design (Makoto's bangs and rattail hairstyle resemble Scorpio's pincers and tail. Same for Fumi's pigtails and Cancer's pincers), character (Joe and Ronaldo's personalities fit Aquarius and Aries like a glove, respectively) or both. The Anguished One is apparently supposed to be representing Ophiuchus, the “hidden” Zodiacal sign.