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Video Game / Digital Devil Saga

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Om mani padme hm

"Rend... Slaughter... Devour your enemies! There is no other way to survive. You cannot escape your hunger, Warriors of Purgatory!"
Digital Devil Saga Intro

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 paradise free 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 two games are mostly dungeon crawlers with bits of plot driving the action in-between. The combat system marks the return of the Press Turn system from Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Each character can set up to eight skills, and unlike Nocturne any skill that has been learned is retained permanently. Skills are learned by buying "Mantra" from Karma Terminals and earning enough Atma Points to complete them. By learning one Mantra, advanced Mantra of that type are unlocked. Hunt skills can be used to greatly increase the amount of Atma Points harvested from an enemy at the risk of developing a stomachache and gaining none.


A save game from Digital Devil Saga can be carried over to Digital Devil Saga 2 to gain additional bonuses.

There is also a five-volume series of novels from 2011 written by Yu Godai called Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner. They tell an alternative story to that of the games that branches from the original as it progresses. They are officially released outside of Japan by Bento Books, translated by Kevin Frane.

Finally, there is a prequel novel called That's Catch-22, which takes place a number of years before the events of the first game.

The duology was first announced to be released on the Play Station Network in 2012 for Europe, but complications with emulating the games properly led the project to being delayed. On May 20, 2014, the first game was released on the PlayStation Network as a PS2 Classic in North America, with the European version finally being released on June 4, 2014. The second game was released on June 10, 2014 in North America and on June 11 in Europe.

This game provides examples of:

  • 11th-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. Gale and Argilla also gain additional abilities in certain conditions are met.
  • 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.
  • Adult Fear: In the backstory, a very young child was abused by a seemingly kind adult without even realizing it. One of the few people who knew what was going on couldn't do anything about it. And he gets gunned down when he does try.
  • After-Combat Recovery: Downplayed. The party members recover a tad bit of health after each battle because they devoured their enemies.
  • 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.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • While the novels are independent of the games they do provide useful background information and world building about how the world of the Junkyard works.
    • Then there is the That's Catch-22 prequel novel, which reveals a LOT about O'Brien and Sheffield's past.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The first game's opening theme is changed for a song named "Danger" in the English version.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: In the final battles, the first happens in a vortex of data, and the second takes place within the sun.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Absolutely everyone in the Junkyard. Some even admit that they can hear voices other than their own in the memories they are receiving.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Coordinate 136 in the first game. Very obviously inspired by Disneyland. Like everywhere in the Junkyard, it's occupied by opposing tribes and it is known for housing many traps and puzzles.
  • Androids Are People, Too: In the second game, most people look down on the Embryon for being AIs.
  • Anti-Air: Most Aerial-type enemies are weak to guns.
  • Anti-Grinding: In DDS 1, If you try and grind in Ajna after the brutes fall there's a chance the demons might shame you for hunting here after the death of their leader. A larger demon will replace the original demon and hit harder. If you continue to fight the larger demon they will leave, with no EXP gained and your time wasted.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: A slight one for the Bonus Boss of DDS 2: If you come in with elemental immunities, instead of just nuking your party dead at the start of battle like DDS 1's Bonus Boss, he'll just remove your immunities. He'll still go ballistic with a Total Party Kill if you cast anything that can repel attacks in mid-battle.
  • Anyone Can Die: In the second game you lose Serph, Argilla, Roland, Heat, Gale, Cielo, Serph (again), and Sera all in quick succession. Though they all return for the last dungeon as data, because said Dungeon is the Afterlife.
  • 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.
  • Apocalypse Wow: The destruction of the Junkyard in the first game, and the destruction of Earth in the second. Both are displayed as the landscapes in question slowly being dissolved into data and absorbed.
  • 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.
  • Arc Words: Om Mani Padme Hum (Jewel in the Holy Lotus).
  • Armies Are Evil: The Brutes in the first game operate like a proper military unit and serve as the main antagonists for the second part of the game. In the sequel, we have the Karma soldiers who hunt innocent people for food and pleasure.
  • Artificial Human: Everyone in the Junkyard.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: After Brahman is restored, Seraph leaves with Schrodinger to view different realities.
  • Backtracking: Both games provide several instances in which dungeons need to be revisited.
    • The Maribel base is visited twice: first to secure the alliance with the Maribel, and then to fend find Mick in the base (though that turned out to be a trap).
    • The E.G.G. Facility is also visited twice - first to find Sera, and then to deal with Heat.
    • Several dungeons can also be revisited as they include many a Bonus Boss.
  • Badass Adorable: Jack Frost. Justified in that he's the Atlus mascot, but spamming either Megidolaon or his Breath attack with all that massive damage piling up, makes for one hell of a fight.
  • Badass Crew: The Embryon; a crew of five people that dominate the Junkyard.
  • Bag of Spilling: Between the first and second games. Justified in that the Embryon are transformed from computer data into real, flesh and bone bodies.
  • Barrier Change Boss:
    • Abaddon and Meganada in the second game, although Meganada's barrier is merely blanket immunity to either Physical or elemental magic.
    • Bonus Boss Huang Long in the first game. One of his barriers actually makes him immune to everything, including Almighty.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Angel hacks the Karma Temple and takes over the Junkyard by taking advantage of her name being "Angel". Nobody ever questions her.
    Angel: I am Angel. I am the one you invoke as you gaze at the heavens. Mark my words as the Temple's new commandment!
  • Beehive Barrier: Whenever an attack is reflected, whether it be physical or magical.
  • Beneath the Mask: The Atma is a person's true character and the virus merely awakens the demonic data inside a human.
  • Betty and Veronica Switch: Between Sera, Serph and Heat in the game's backstory: Heat genuinely cared for Sera, but found it difficult to express his feelings and always ended up displaying a hostile exterior whenever she was around. Serph appeared to care for her, but in reality he was a Manipulative Bastard and saw her as little more than a tool for his own gain.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Jenna Angel and Madame Cuvier in the second game. While they're both higher-ups of the Karma Society, each has their own Evil Plan on how to resolve the crisis that conflicts with the other's and are perfectly willing to betray one another to realize it. At around the halfway point Cuvier loses out due to a bullet through the skull compliments of Jenna, who takes over as sole Big Bad.
  • 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.
  • Blank Slate: Everyone in the first game. After gaining the Atma they awaken to a single powerful emotion and develop from there.
  • 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.
  • Blob Monster: Any "Slime" enemy. Most usually they resist physical attacks and are weak to magic. And in the second game, you have to feed it to someone.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Possibly the bloodiest Eastern RPG s ever made and certainly the bloodiest of the SMT games. The first cutscene of the first game shows a man being sliced in half and eaten on-screen. The many, many, character deaths can get quite nasty as well. Especially Roland's. It should be noted that the gameplay is still entirely bloodless, though.
  • Bloodless Carnage: There is no blood spilling during gameplay. The cutscenes more than make up for it.
  • Blow You Away: Gale is wind elemental and starts with several wind spells.
  • Bonus Boss: Several. Killing the ones in the first game (King Frost, Beelzebub, Orochi, the Four Guardian Beasts, Huang Long, Metatron, and the Demi-fiend) 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, not least because he only appears in Hard Mode. The second game's other Bonus Bosses, who can be fought on either difficulty, are the Four Archangels, Jack Frost, Shiva, Vishnu, and Seth.
  • Born as an Adult: Everyone in the Junkyard, as it turns out.
  • Boss Bonanza: The final dungeons of both games had five to ten bosses and/or sub-bosses within them. the second game is an interesting case of this trope overlapping with Boss Rush - excluding the Bonus Bosses, every boss but the last two are from the first game. If you only played the second, these are all new bosses, but if you played the first, they're familiar.
  • Boss Rush: One sidequest pits you against the 4 archangels in an abandoned research facility. The last fight in the quest has you fight Uriel, Raphael and Gabriel again before you face Michael.
  • Boss Warning Siren: Before most inescapable fights or boss fights there is a door. Trying to open this door will not open it instantly, but the player will be warned about the presence of a powerful demon or dangerous force behind it.
  • Boring, but Practical: Hunt skills. They do double damage (quad if you land a critical hit) on frightened enemies and are not affected by null/repel physical, and there are variations which kill the enemy on the spot. The downside to a successful hunt is the chance of being inflicted by the stomachache ailment, which cheats you out of any acquired Atma points at the end of a fight.
    • Adding to the above is the Iron Stomach passive skill, which removes the chance of getting stomachache. Obtaining this skill makes Hunt Skills filled with nothing but possibilities, with no drawbacks.
  • Brain–Computer Interface: The specialty of the Cyber Shaman: affect any sort of computing system with her mind. No connection required.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The Bonus Boss fight against the Demi-fiend, for you, is probably the most difficult fight in any RPG ever. For him? It's just another Random Encounter - the fight music is that for random encounters from Nocturne, and he only uses skills that were at best mid-tier in his home game. Part of the trick to defeating him is intentionally invoking this, as well: if you do anything that makes you look like a real threat that he needs to take more seriously, like having elemental immunities, he'll drop a one-shot-kill nuke spell.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp":
    • Moon Phases, are called Solar Noise (1) and Solar Data (2).
    • Experience is called Karma.
    • Incenses are called Noise (1) and Data (2).
  • Call-Forward: In DDS2, the second time the player visits the E.G.G facility, it has turned into an Eldritch Location due to the influence of the Boss there. In other words, the demon set up a Domain.
  • Cannibalism Superpower: Due to the Demon form requiring more magnetite than anything else to continue living, they have to eat others with large amounts of Magnetite, which are humans and other demons.
  • Casting a Shadow: Gale joins the party with Mudo already in his skill tree.
  • 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...and you're probably half dead by this point to begin with if you haven't been keeping up with your healing. Setting this apart from usual Chest Monsters is the fact that falling into this trap is mandatory.
  • Color-Coded Armies: The tribes. Embryon is orange, the Vanguards are green, Maribel is red, the Solids are yellow, the Wolves are white and the Brutes are blue. As the Embryon conquers more tribes, their former members will switch to orange. Interestingly, those are also the colours of the tribes that ruled over them, and those don't change. The Karma Temple is purple.
    • Downplayed, but the Lokapola members all wear military camouflage pattern.
  • Constructed World: The Junkyard. Many little details, from Protagonist Without a Past, to how the new soldiers are Born as Adults, to the Hopeless War everyone's fighting, make very little sense outside of a videogame - which is why the player's unlikely to find anything strange at the beginning. But when people begin remembering Earth and human society, the Junkyard begins showing how truly artificial it is.
  • Crapsack World: Per Megaten standards. The Junkyard is referred to as a "Purgatory". The tribes are locked in a Hopeless War and even death is not an escape as the dead soldiers merely reincarnate. It gets worse when everyone is infected with Atma and they turn inti cannibalistic monsters.
  • 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.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max:
    • Cielo's "plot lasers", which never actually appear as a useable move outside of cutscenes. He even Lampshades it during the Very Definitely Final Dungeon of the second game.
    • Same goes for Sera's powers. In cutscenes she can get the people of the Junkyard to do whatever she wants, but her "Song of Grace" can only heal one person at a time in the fights were it appears.
  • Dark Reprise: The music when fighting Heat's One Winged Angel form and some other bosses in Digital Devil Saga 2 (including all but one of the Bonus Bosses) is called Hunting: Betrayal, which is a reprise of the regular battle theme from the first game.
  • Death World: "Nirvana" in the second game. Anyone who tries to walk under the sun us turned into stone, all the plants have withered, water and oxygen are disappearing and many of the few surviving humans are being hunted down for food.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: The major bosses of the first game and most required bosses in the second all have pretty detailed death animations, contrasting Nocturne which only had them for the first boss, two Bonus Bosses, and the Reason bosses. The grandest and most true to the trope, however, would have to be Satan, the only optional boss in the second game with a unique death animation, who collapses, leaks solar data out of his head, and finally explodes into more solar data.
  • 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.
  • Diminishing Returns for Balance: In the second game only, each stack of a (de)buff is worth half of the previous one.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Argilla's elemental alignment is Earth.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: An adult acts kindly to a small child, manipulating her feelings and promising her treats in exchange for favors. The child thinks that she and the adult love each other. Meanwhile, the adult's coworker watches the almost-flirting with disgust. Is Sheffield abusing Sera's powers or molesting her?
  • Domed Hometown: Most of the second game takes place in a complex under a dome. They need the dome because something happened to the Sun and its light now turns people to stone.
  • Doomed Hometown: The entire world in the first game.
  • Double Agent: The mole that the Lokapala have in the Karma Society is actually working for Jenna Angel.
  • Double Unlock: Mantras. They're a sort of one-to-four move package you can purchase from Karma Terminals with Macca. However, to be able to use the moves each package unlocks, you have to keep it active so it will gain Atma Points after each battle until you master the Mantra. Even further, some Mantras require certain unique items dropped by bosses to even be available for purchase.
  • Dwindling Party: During the second half of 2.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: In the first game, If you grind in the brutes base after killing its leader there's an optional encounter that can happen. Fight a girimehkahla without killing it for a few turns and it'll be replaced with a large level 70 Girimehkahla who berates you like a drill sergeant. If you are underleveled though he will leave and tell you to train up.
    • He comes back in a floor of the final dungeon of the second game, appropriately close to where you must face Colonel Beck again
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: The entire cast in 2.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: At the end of the second game, almost the entire cast dies and goes to the afterlife to calm Brahman down before reincarnating. They manage to succeed without any negative consequences, with the Earth restored to what it was before Sheffield angered Brahman, Fred surviving, and an Earth in possibly the best position of any SMT world.
  • Easily Forgiven: According to Junkyard law, if the leader of a tribe is killed, the members of the fallen tribe must follow the victorious one. Members of defeated tribes generally defer to Serph upon surrender, although there are plenty of holdouts. The only tribes to have no holdouts are the Vanguards, the Solids, and the Maribel, and the only tribe to play this entirely straight is the Vanguards, because an optional conversation involving a former member of the Maribel and a former member of the Solids reveals that they can't forgive each other. The Wolves are never fought.
  • Elemental Powers: Every character has access to every element eventually.
  • Eldritch Location: DDS2 gives us two of these.
    • First there's the E.G.G. Facility after Heat takes over. It pretty much turns into a SMTIV Domain filled with teleportation portals, and its inside structure has been completely rearranged.
    • The ultimate prize goes to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, aka the Sun. It serves as a celestial body, a supercomputer, the setting's top god and the afterlife all at once.
  • Emergent Human: The denizens of the Junkyard are very unused to having human emotions.
  • Empty Eyes: Before awakening to their emotions, everyone in the Junkyard had grey eyes with no pupils. This changes once they do. Especially notable with Serph as his eyes remain grey.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Karma Temple in the first game. A unbelievable huge tall tower that is a dark white color with purple lights and serves as the first game's final dungeon.
  • Eye Colour Change: Everyone in the Junkyard had uniform grey eyes, but once they awaken to their emotions, their eyes change to match whatever their hair colour is.
  • Eyeless Face: All of the major characters Atma avatars (Asuras) lack any sort of eyes and at most have some kind of colored marking where they should be.
  • False Memories: A horrific part of the Demonic Possession above. A lot of Shout Outs to Shin Megami Tensei II confirm it.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: The Maribel Tribe have this going on. Most noticeable with their leader and her Atma Avatar, while others either have paint on one side of their face or missing sleeves or part of their pants on one side. Many Solids also wear full armor that misses a sleeve or something.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: Serph and Heat; the former is a Stoic who almost never speaks and shapeshifts into an ice-themed demon, Varna, while the latter is a hot-headed and impulsive Blood Knight who shapeshifts into a fire-demon, Agni.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Though not church bells, in Digital Devil Saga 2, at the climax of the game, each of the members of the Embryon start to die one by one. This is hammered in when upon their death, the distinct ringing of Schrodinger's bells is heard.
  • 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.
    • Gale receives frequent visions of a black-haired woman. In addition, when Varin assaults the party, he recognises everyone except for Gale, which is lampshaded. As it turns out, Gale is the reincarnation of Jenna Angel's lover and had died in front of her prior to the formation of the Karma Society.
    • 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.
      • The first game's game over screen features a sun turning black.
    • Talking to a lot of characters through the game give hints that there's something up with the Junkyard, from people talking about Government, schools, music, etc. All of which are things not found in the Junkyard.
    • Some other people in the Junkyard seem to be utterly terrified of the sun. Cue the second game where you find out about the sun-induced Curvier Syndrome.
    • For that matter, there is a cat in the Junkyard. It's a sentient transcended being.
    • A (not save point) terminal at the depths of the first game's The Very Definitely Final Dungeon makes mention of Asura Project Stage 1. The full details are given in the second game.
  • The Four Gods: All four appear as optional bosses in the first game under their leader Huang Long and each has taken over a part of the Junkyard.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • When the demonic transformations are first displayed, one poor mook has his Atma brand on his crotch.
    • When Argilla introduces Gale as "Mr. Personality", one of Fred's friends laughs in the background.
    • When Roland shows Embryon a picture of Jenna Angel at the beginning of the game, pausing it reveals: a very tall blond man with glasses standing right behind her, and another black man even taller than him who looks identical to adult Fred. Looks like Gale and Lupa knew each other for longer than they both thought.
    • Cielo's "jamin' Latin rhythm" is accompanied by Fred facepalming in the background.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: The Embryon learns that abstaining from flesh will drive insane at the end of the first dungeon, and until then, Argilla refuses to eat. Since AP is granted from the flesh of the dead, Argilla's gauge will remain stationary until the end of the first dungeon. Also, Argilla does not start with any Hunt skills (which devours the enemy if it kills them). If she has any on a New Game+, she will still refuse to use them until the end of the first dungeon.
  • Gameplay-Guided Amnesia: Serph has a slight amnesia in the beginning of the first game after gaining his Atma. Mostly serves to just allow others to remind him of how things work in the junkyard.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Berserk mode in the second game.
  • God: Technically, Brahman
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: The Tribhvana.
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: The side-effect of Atma was to allow those infected by it to develop a consciousness.
  • Guide Dang It!: To get Heat in DDS2, you have to make specific dialog choices over both games. Also, where to get the red key in the first game (an optional area that floods every now and then).
    • Funny enough, most players stumble upon the specific dialog choices in DDS1: you just need to pick the 1st choice in all of them.
    • The Jack Frost quizzes in 2. Half the questions can be answered if, for some reason, you were paying very close attention to literally everything that's happened throughout both games. The other half require information that is not present ANYWHERE in the games, such as the names of the various characters' Atmas, which are different from the names of their demon forms (Serph's Atma is Water Crown, while his demon is Varna). The names of the characters' Atmas are given offhand mentions in both games, but it's really easy to miss if you don't pay attention.
    • Some of the Bonus Bosses in the first game are pretty well hidden. However, the king of them all is the Demi-fiend, who can only be fought by going to a minor part of an early dungeon on a New Game Plus.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: "Berserk Form" in Digital Devil Saga 2.
  • 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?
  • 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.)
  • Hellevator: Most likely due to Sera's interference, the elevator that leads to the top of the Karma Tower goes up a few meters... and then there's a freefall.
    Cielo: Woa! Isn't dis more like fallin'!?
  • 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.
  • High-Tech Hexagons: The games makes extensive use of this as part of its aesthetics.
  • History Repeats: Heat attacks Serph in full view of Sera, whose sorrow angers God, triggering a disaster. This happens to both the real and AI pairs of Serph and Heat.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The real Serph Sheffield.
    • Margot Cuvier in regards to how she treats Sera and Heat.
  • Honor Before Reason: The Wolves are mentioned by a NPC to choose to die fighting and being eaten rather than surrender to the Brutes. Even after Lupa's defeat some of them state they are still loyal to only Lupa.
  • Hopeless War: The Junkyard, entirely intentionally. The entire reality is a training AI sim designed to produce combat intelligences; by restocking lost units and shoving varying adverse situations on the commanders, the programmers forced the commanders to keep developing strategies while depriving them of any data that could conceivably lead to any of them winning.
  • Horror Hunger: A side-effect of the Atma Virus. Infected have the choice between indulging in cannibalism on a regular basis or turning into mindless raving monsters. The only alleviation to this is Sera's song.
  • Human Architecture Horror: This is what happens at the E.G.G. Facility after Heat took over and God corrupted its data. Anyone who did not go insane ended up literally fused with the plastic, glass and metal ceiling due to how unstable the whole structure has become, and from various malfunctioning teleportation portals around the facility. Players can converse with the unfortunate victims, who will laugh hysterically or beg players to get away.
  • Human Resources: The Meat factories in the sequel produce food for the demonized inhabitants of the world by grinding up the people who aren't deemed worthy enough to live there.
  • An Ice Person: Serph and Sera's elemental alignment. Serph starts with Bufu, the basic ice spell.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: You devour your opponents alive.
  • 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.
  • Interface Spoiler: Generally, if a dungeon's first Large Karma Terminal is named "[insert dungeon name] 1", you know that this area is going to be a very long one, or will become a very long one later in the game. The most egregious one is the Karma Temple; you get summoned to it at the beginning of the first game, and you'll be left wondering why is its save point labelled "Karma Temple 1" instead of "Karma Temple" like the "Embryon Base" and "Maribel Base" were. Only later it opens up as the Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • 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.
  • Infant Immortality: Fred is the only major child character in the games and the only named character to survive.
    • Averted with his friend Timmy, however. Fred's sadness because of this is the trigger for Gale's realization who is Fred's father.
  • 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.
  • Inside a Computer System: Big-time spoiler for the first game, but Late-Arrival Spoiler by the time you hit the second. The title kind of gives it away—DIGITAL devil saga. Everything in the first game is an elaborate simulation that somehow got infected with true sentience and reincarnations of dead people out from the real world—and "nirvana" is the real world. However, the TRUE Nirvana becomes apparent in the sequel—it's inside THE SUN!
  • Intrepid Merchant: Johnny in the second game. He sets up shop literally anywhere, from a facility that processes meat to the freaking afterlife. Even lampshaded in the latter case.
    Johnny: This is the shop. The shop is where I say it is. This is Serious Business, remember that.
  • Jive Turkey: Some of the Solids tribesmen speak this 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 except Fred has 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 cellphone prequel Test Server.
  • Legacy Boss Battle: Satan in the second game.
  • Level Grinding: Levels don't really mean much unless you go for the Demi-fiend and/or Satan, but you will most likely end up grinding atma for better skills at some point.
  • Light 'em Up: If the right choices are made in the first game and save data are imported in the second, Argilla will inherit Jinana's Seraph Lore.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Both games favor a magic-centric team, as damage taken by enemy magic runs off of the magic stat, thus making it so that once enemies start flinging spells left and right towards the endgame only characters who have a solid magic stat can mostly shrug it off. That's not to say physically built characters are bad however, as a well-timed Power Charge Executioner can deal a substantial amount of damage and they also do well against the enemies that favor physical attacks, it just comes at the cost of them occasionally feeling like a Glass Cannon since so many enemies and bosses typically go for magic attacks.
  • Lip Lock: Even though the voice actors are very experienced in voicing foreign animation, 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.
  • Logical Weakness: Earth-elemental attacks don't work on flying enemies, as they work by manipulating the ground i.e. the stuff that flyers are obviously not on.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: "Inherent Will".
  • Luck-Based Mission: Beating each game's ultimate Bonus Boss takes a good deal of luck, even at level 99 and maxed stats. Ironically, the Bonus Boss in the first game is easier if you have a low Luck stat in one character (Cielo).
  • Lunacy: Although the game follows "Solar Noise", the rate at which Solar Noise fluctuates and the influences it has on battle makes it no different to the Moon Phases of the main series games.
    • Your characters may have a chance of getting cured of ailments and the Jack Cell can be sold for the highest price at MIN Solar Noise. Almost all Cells sell for the highest price at MAX Solar Noise.
    • In the second game, at 7/8 or MAX Solar Noise you have a chance of entering battle in Berserk Mode.
  • Magical Native American: The Wolves Tribe.
  • Mark of the Beast: The Atma brands. Everyone with Atma has a black mark with a fanged mouth in its design somewhere on their body.
  • Master Computer: The Dissemination Machine in the first game; it runs the Junkyard.
  • Meaningful Name: Pretty much everyone, though some are more obvious (Angel, Gale, Heat, Serph) than others (Argilla is Italian for "clay," and Cielo is Spanish for "sky").
    • Doubly so for Serph. Not only is his name pronounced like "surf" (his affinity is with water/ice), see the spoiler for Messianic Archetype 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.
  • Merger of Souls: In The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of 2, Serph and Sera fuse into the androgynous Seraph, gaining a new Atma form and pooling their learned skills in the process.
  • Metal Slime: Omoikane. Interestingly, the mechanics of their fights are different in both games.
  • Money Spider: The first game justifies this by stating that the Karma Temple oversee your battles and adds Macca to your tag ring based on your performance.
  • Mutual Kill: Gale and Angel.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the first game, the ultimate Bonus Boss has the same resistances that would be given by the Masakados Magatama, meaning he can only be damaged with Earth, Gun, and Almighty. He also has one more Press Turn than he has demons, showing that he did the Amala Grave Run.
    • In the second game, the four angel bonus bosses talk about building a thousand year kingdom, and think that their God was the one who turned humans into stone statues: just like in Shin Megami Tensei II. In the final dungeon, one can also fight Seth and Satan, the former of which mentions "one who is to judge", referring to his other half Zayin while the latter mentions that Seraph "has chosen to retaliate, like that man did", which refers to Aleph. Taken to an extreme with Satan's Famous Last Words, which are exactly the same as his last words in II on the Neutral and Chaos routes.
  • Nerf:
    • Drain skills when compared to Nocturne, especially those that drain MP. In Nocturne they where classified as Almighty meaning they always work, but here the MP-draining skills are classified as Mute meaning that if an opponent is immune to status ailments it won't work.
    • On one hand, Random Target spells have a much lower chance of hitting a same target multiple times when compared to Nocturne, and are overall weaker. Easily seen with Fire of Sinai, which was one of the most powerful spells in Nocturne, but here it deals pitiful damage when compared to other high level spells, such as Death Flies and Celestial Ray. On the other hand, pair a random target spell with Mind Charge and you'll deal a ton of damage if you can hit the same target multiple times. Metatron can do this in the first game to inflict a Total Party Kill if he gets lucky and you don't have Close Call equipped since to compensate for being weaker, Fire of Sinai can hit three times instead of two.
    • Expel/Light-elemental skills, traditionally One-Hit Kill skills, are just Percent Damage Attacks in these games. This change does make it easier to devour regular enemies, though bosses are still immune to Expel.
    • Dark Might and Bright Might no longer guarantee critical hits under their respective Solar Noise phase, instead just slightly increasing the rate in which they happen.
  • 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.)
  • Non-Indicative Name: Null Sleep doesn't actually negate Sleep status, despite all of the other "Null x" skills doing Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Instead, it causes all attacks that target the user to miss if the user is asleep. As such, it's the only "Null" skill in the game that won't make the Demi-Fiend instant-wipe your party.
  • Non Standard Skill Learning: If you answer certain dialogue choices throughout the two games, Argilla, Gale and Seraph will automatically obtain the skills Seraph Lore (Powerful Light 'em Up with 100% accuracy), Pyriphlegethon (Multi-target Playing with Fire), and Reincarnate (Almighty group-damaging skill) respectively when you reach the final dungeon. Even if you answer the dialogue choices incorrectly, Gale is guaranteed to learn Pyriphlegethon if you import a DDS 1 save into DDS 2. These skills are used by Jinana,Lupa and Angel respectively in their boss fights in the first game.
  • Oh, Crap!: Standard initial reaction of pretty much everyone. Especially poor Harley.
    • The scientists' and Madame's reactions to God absorbing the Earth's data.
  • Old Save Bonus: If you carry cleared save data from the first game to the second, you unlock Hard Mode, no questions asked. Additionally, beating King Frost, Beelzebub, Metatron, Huang Long, and the Demi-fiend unlocks further bonuses in the sequel, as well as stat increases for each character with a fully completed Mantra grid.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Karma Temple in the original game, and the Karma Society in the sequel.
  • One Degree of Separation: The short version goes as following: everyone in the Embryon Tribe except for Gale and the mooks are AIs who are based on people working in one way or another for the Karma Society, who in turn worked with Varin (a tribe leader in the Junkyard). Angel, the creator of Atma, who also works for the Society, is Sera's parent and Gale's (ex)girlfriend. And at the same time, Lupa is the founder of the Lokapala who fights against the Society, and later the Wolves who fight against Varin. Both groups ally with the Embryon.
  • 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.
  • Optional Party Member: Heat can be recruited for the final dungeon in Digital Devil Saga 2 if you have fulfilled certain prerequisites over both games.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Margot Cuvier versus Jenna Angel, respectively. Even the colors of uniforms of their soldiers are blue and red - the classic Shin Megami Tensei colors for Order and Chaos.
  • Orochi: Appears as a optional boss in the Samsara Tunnels, deciding to make the Embyron his next meal since the other one got away. Unfortunately the beautiful woman who escaped died after inside of the Brutes Base.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: The basic premise for the Demi-fiend fight is that the poison gas in the bottom of the Solids' Citadel caused hallucinations. After you beat him, however, a dying message appears on the ground.
  • Painful Transformation: When the Junkyard inhabitants go berserk after being infected with Atma at the beginning.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: Both games end with a shot of the Sun. The former is a Black Sun, while the latter is a fully restored Sun.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: When Argilla disguises as Sera to lure Bat and the Brutes to the Deserted Ship, Cielo promptly complains that the disguise would be this, listing off many ways he could tell between the disguise and the real deal. Gale reassures them that the disguise would work at long distances; all that is necessary for the plan to work.
  • Partial Transformation: Berserk Mode in the second game.
  • Past-Life Memories: Everyone in the Junkyard remembers their past to some degree after being infected with the Atama Virus. How much depends on the individual.
    • Then there's the demon data inside a person. Due to the activation of the data several demons begin to remember their past and start to dominate their human self until they take complete control. Examples include the Four Archangels, Metatron, Megananda, and maybe Seth and Satan. Others cause some to view it more akin to a alternate personality like one member of the Solids who couldn't decide whether to live as either his old self or Cu Chulainn.
  • Personality Powers: Most notably between Serph (ice) and Heat (fire). The fact that they oppose each other on Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors is not coincidental. Most important in-game relationships play with Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors at least a little.
    • 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 MegaTen 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.
  • Playing with Fire: Heat's elemental alignment is fire. If data is imported from the first game into the second game, Gale gets access to an exclusive fire spell.
  • Pop Quiz: Hosted by Jack Frost in Digital Devil Saga 2; there's a Bragging Rights Reward in it for you if you answer all one hundred questions correctly and beat a Bonus Boss.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: The strongest Bonus Boss in the first game is the Demi-fiend from Nocturne.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
    • Heat has a few of this. "I'll tear you apart, you fat freak!" He got it even in his bossfight intro in DDS2.
    • 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.
  • Pre-Sacrifice Final Goodbye: Subverted in DDS2. Argilla, Gale and Cielo all say stuff in the vein of "we'll see each other again" before very knowingly heading to their deaths. They are proven correct.
  • Protagonist Without a Past: A plot point. You don't have any idea of how critical this is.
  • 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.
  • Power-Upgrading Deformation: Those exposed to the demon virus.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Invoked with the Tribhvana, who you fight a couple of times in DDS2. They appear threatening at first, but after you beat them the first time the scene turns comical with Cielo hanging a few lampshades on this trope.
    Cielo: What a bunch of weirdos. Dey'd better not be as persistent as Bat, ya?
  • Race Against the Clock: In the second game, the team races to reach the sun after Brahman starts to absorb the Earth.
  • Recycled In Space: The ending of the second game is Shin Megami Tensei II WITH HINDUISM! Yes, this is because both climaxes have you punch out God, though while II puts you up against the Abrahamic God, this one puts you up against Brahman, the closest thing to Hinduism's Top God.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Heat and Serph respectively, although Serph being a Heroic Mime makes his personality mostly implied. Their Personality Powers support this.
  • 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.
    • The Junkyard also has its own system like this. Whoever dies and remains of them is eventually broken down and becomes the clouds, which then becomes rain and leads to the creation of rookies.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Lots of things only make sense after beating both games, including the tale of the two princes at Coordinate 136, where the heck that cat came from, why Heat is so fixated on Sera, and why everyone has weird hair colors.
  • 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.
  • Rocket-Tag Gameplay: "Berserk Mode" in the second game enforces this, with all of your party members becoming a Glass Cannon and lowering their accuracy in exchange for ridiculous strength, a high critical rate, and the ability to bypass physical resistance. You have a guaranteed escape if you're feeling risk-averse, but if you win, you get bonus Karma for the trouble.
  • Romantic Fusion: Near the end of the game, Serph and Sera die but their souls fuse, forming the intersex Seraph. Futhermore, his/her Atma Avatar is Ardha.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Because the Chinese names for The Four Gods are used, Suzaku is translated as Feng Huang in the first game and the actual Feng Huang is a random encounter in the second game under the mistranslated name of Phoenix.
  • Science Is Bad: Due to the head scientist wanting to become a god.
  • 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...
  • Shock and Awe: Cielo and Roland are lightning elemental and start with several elec spells.
  • 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".
  • Side Quest: The Field Hunt recurring sidequest is great source of AP. It consists of a time-limited mini-game and concludes with a fight with Mitamas worth loads of AP per hunt. One of these hunts can save a player hours of farming. Once finished, Field Hunt is unavailable until several solar cycles go by.
  • Sidequest Sidestory: Most Bonus Bosses have one such story following them.
    • Beelzebub fought twice in one of these. He is a former member of the Vanguards who turned on Harley Q and had to be locked away right after the beginning of the game. He wants to eat Serph too.
    • After you clear Coordinate 136, a fraction of the Solids attempts to create a fairy-themed tribe with King Frost as the leader.
    • The whole story with Anahata's sewers: a former Solids member informs you that all their scouts in there died. You find the Bonus Boss who killed them, but it says that one person managed to escape. Right after the fight, you find the girl already dead and take her ring. This leads to the Boss Fight against Metatron, as the guy in question in that girl's boyfriend and he thinks you killed her because you have her ring.
    • The battles against the Four Beasts and their leader were caused by a deliberate attack on the tribe's mooks in an attempt to draw out Serph and kill him.
    • The four Archangel battles: theirhuman consciousness was overwritten by the Angels. and they were locked away because they wanted to recreate the Millenium Kingdom. Angel unleashed them just like she had done with Meganada.
  • Sinister Sentient Sun: The Black Sun emits ray that turns human into stone, unless they have the Atma virus that allow them to turn into demons. The reason for this phenomena was because God, also known as Brahman, received data from Sera and was disgusted by the action of one man who wanted the power of God that it emits a deadly curse unto the Earth. Things escalates as the events of the second game caused Sera to emit corrupted data unto Brahman again and it decided to download the Earth until it was confronted and restored the Sun to normal. Since the Sun is the The Very Definitely Final Dungeon where you find Brahman at the end, which is deep inside, it's possible that the Sun is Brahman's manifestation.
  • Skirt over Slacks: Both Argilla and Sera wear shorts under their skirts. They are soldiers, after all.
  • Sentai: The Embryon are often seen as this.
  • Single-Use Shield: The "Void Element" spells. Especially early on, they are absolutely critical to keep from being horribly butchered in boss fights (and some regular fights). Alleviated in that a blocked attack takes away the opponent's press turns.
  • SNK Boss: The Demi-fiend in the first game and Satan in the second are widely considered to be two of the toughest bosses in any turn-based RPG.
  • 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).
  • Split-Screen Reaction: How the Embryon and Fred react when Roland tells them to "bring them the Cyber Shaman".
  • The Stinger: After the first game's credits, Sera is released out from a machine, while Serph is exploring a desert landscape as the sun is shown to be completely black. Capping off with this message.
    Are you ready for the real world?
  • 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.
    • Dialogue suggests that those who changed early (like the core members of the Embryon) got stronger forms than those who were infected late, and those who were already tribe leaders and in positions of power in their tribe were more likely to get a powerful form. The Embryon being relatively democratic at its upper echelons and present at the virus's release into the Junkyard contributed to the tribe securing five Asuras instead of one or two. It may also have something to do with more of the real people's data being used in constructing their Junkyard counterparts, so tribe leaders and their seconds got purer strains of demon data.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity:
    • Beelzebub's fly form has a Large Karma Terminal (a healing Save Point that can be used to warp to other Large Terminals in the same dungeon) immediately before him. As in, not very many feet away from him.
    • Similarly, Cerberus has a Large Terminal immediately near him.
  • Swiss-Army Superpower: Sera's very vaguely-defined psychic powers.
  • Taken for Granite: Brahman's Sunlight after turning the sun black turns every normal human to stone in the sequel. Very few humans escaped petrification and those affected are irreversibly dead, due to them being turned into extremely crumbly statues. Yes, it's just as creepy as it sounds.
    • Also, Stone attacks. If you get turned to stone, then hit by a melee attack (or Earth, or Force), it kills you instantly. Some bosses like to use their multiple actions to inflict petrification and then bash someone. (Fortunately any spell that blocks Death effects also blocks Stone.)
  • Terrible Trio: The Tribhvana in Digital Devil Saga 2.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The Junkyard ends in the first one, and they end up in the half-dead real world and have to save it once Sera accidentally convinces God to end that too
  • The Power of Friendship: Subtle but it is there. In fact the games could be seen as both a Deconstruction and Reconstruction of the concept at the same time.
    • Gameplay-wise for most of the time you need to have three living members of Embryon in party to get more Press Turn icons. Useful combo attacks are present too, like unlike in the Persona series, which puts heavy emphasis on bonds of friendship.
  • There Will Be Cake: Nirvana, the promised Utopia.
    • The Cake Is a Lie: Nirvana exists, but it's far from the paradise the Embryon imagined.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Pretty much everyone in the Junkyard was forced to deal with this sooner or later.
  • 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.
  • Truce Zone: The Karma Temple in the first game, up until the Embryon wins.
  • True Companions: At one point Gale asks the other members if they would follow the person who defeated Serph, as the law dictates. All of them refuse to even think about it. Later on they deliver this gem:
    everyone together: We're comrades.
    Heat: Then there is nothing to debate.
  • Underground City: The occupied sector and the Lokapala territory in DDS2. They exist beneath the former, normal city that now lays in ruins after the surface became uninhabitable.
  • 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.
  • Undying Loyalty: Some of the Solids and the Brutes will continue to fight the player if they enter their territory, long after their leaders are dead. The Wolves also express this towards their leader Lupa and refuse to change their colours. Thankfully, they're allies.
  • Varying Tactics Boss: The second game features two of these:
    • Heat is only fought twice, but exploits this trope all the same. You first fight him when searching for Sera, revealing his Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome. The next time you fight him, he not only assumes a completely different transformation, but pretty much none of his attacks from his previous fight make a return.
      • To reach his first fight, you first have to fight three Karma Soldiers before he appears, accompanied by two Gdons. He has a weakness to ice (which he often circumvents by having his Gdons put up ice-draining shields) and specializes in generic fire and physical attacks, all of these properties witnessed in the previous game, in which he was a party member.
      • You fight him again when you revisit the corrupted EGG facility to look for Serph. He instead naturally repels ice (which was previously his weakness) and gains a completely different weakness, namely electricity. He also gains an ice attack that has a good chance of freezing characters, which gives him free rein to pile up on Critical Hits (which also give him extra turns). He also gains an unblockable almighty attack, as well as a literally panic-inducing skill (which if inflicted, causes the affected character to waste entire turns and drop money very often). You also have to destroy his two arms to even deal any damage to him this time around. What cements him as this trope is his own response to when you attempt to hit him with ice attacks in the second fight with him.
        Vritra: No, y'dumb bastard! That won't do a damn thing!
    • The first two times they're fought, the Tribhvana is a Quirky Miniboss Squad with relatively unchanged strategies. However, the third time, the leader of the squad has devoured his teammates and obtained their abilities, transforming him into Abaddon. In other words, the squad has turned into a Barrier Change Boss with completely different quirks.
  • 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.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: In the first game, the Karma Temple. In the second, The Sun. Both of these are absurdly long and come with a half-dozen bosses each.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Of a sort: the nonaggression rule of the Karma Temple is enforced by a group of white-robed robot guards. Upon your return to the Temple at the end of the game, the guards bar your path, and analyzing them reveals they are entirely immune to physical and gun attacks. Before the advent of the Demon Virus, this would make them the perfect way to keep the soldiers in line if they act out, but now that you wield elemental magic they are little more than kind-of-tough mooks.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Jenna has one when Gale accuses her of betraying David's ideals.
    • Madame when she finds out her actions were responsible for endangering the world.
  • Weird Sun: The black sun from the second game.
  • 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?
    • In the same game, "I am Colonel Beck." Pretty much explains exactly what the hell is going on.
    • In the second one, "Since when did people start expecting science to be humane?" In which the original Serph Sheffield, the spitting image and basis of the Silent Protagonist and trusted leader of the Embryon you've been playing as since the beginning establishes himself as probably the most rotten, morally bankrupt character in the duology.
  • 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 Measure Is a Non-Human?: The Embryon will only eat the corpses of people who were in demon form when they die; killing mooks when they are human will gain no AP.
  • 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.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Demon Virus tends to have this effect on people.
  • 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, and the flashbacks that finally reveal those who were basis for the Embryon also had realistic colors: Serph Sheffield had black hair, and Heat O'Brien, David Gale and the nurse that Argilla was based on are all blondes. Cielo's real life counterpart is never seen, but dialogue notes that he was based on a boy from one of the Caribbean islands, so he likely had dark brown or black hair.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It / Random Encounters: As the game goes on, the Embryon conquers more and more territory, and in theory rule over the subjugated tribes, but there will always be random encounters in the occupied territories.
    • The Vanguard territory is occupied by rookie squatters looking to form a new tribe.
    • The Maribel territory is still occupied by the Solids, which is illegal by Junkyard law.
    • The Solids territory has Solids who refuse to give up.
    • Coordinate 136 is occupied by former Solid members who attempt to create a new tribe.
    • The Wolves territory is never explored.
    • The Brutes territory, like the Solids, still has illegal holdouts.
  • Younger Than They Look / Older Than They Look: Everyone in the Junkyard appears to be between their twenties to early thirties, but several of them are freaking out over things such as school, while others are acting surprisingly old. Justified in that all of them are reincarnations of people who died.
    • Also, Sera. She suffers from Rapid Aging; in reality she is only seven years old.


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