So far, after two hours and some change, I’ve listened way more than I’ve played in Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Overclocked. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem, as I enjoy talky games and there’s some good writing here and occasionally good voicework, but the first real battle you get to openly involve yourself in is so hideously unbalanced that it nearly ruins everything building up to it. First, some backstory.
Without warning, demons start showing up in and around modern day Tokyo. The three main teenage characters, Atsurou Kihara, Yuzu Tanikawa, and our nameless hero who I dubbed P-San, all come to obtain mysterious Communication Player devices, called COMPs, which also look strikingly similar to Nintendo DS Lites. These little portable bits of wonder allow them to interact with the demons–fighting, contracting, or buying them from an auction–as well as visually see how long people have left to live. This is represented as a number over there heads, indicating their days remaining. Creepy. And a bit like the severely under-appreciated Jackson flick The Frighteners.
Right. So, this trio learns about an incoming demon invasion and the fact that they have zeroes above their heads–which, if you’ve been paying attention, means they are gonna bite it real soon–and…well, they talk a lot. Mull things over. It is a JRPG after all; am I right? The original DS version did not have full voice-acting, but here on the 3DS, it does, and it is used fully. Granted, it does help with immersion, as well as remind me why I can’t stand a lot of anime these days (whiny voices). Peppered around these lengthy cutscenes are a couple of tutorial battles; here, we learn how to move around the grid, battle, earn Mecca (?), and strengthen our teams. All well and good. Easy to understand. Strong pacing.
And then we get to a part where we can “free battle” until our hearts content or continue the story, which results in a main story battle unlike any of the tutorials prior. Here, a solid six or seven monsters swarm our reluctant trio, ganging up on a single character until they are merely folded bits of flesh and fluid on the sidewalk. The minute one character and his or her team falls, the others go quickly after. I’ve popped the FATAL KERNEL ERROR screen twice now. Looks like the free battle option is there for players to grind on until we can at least put up a decent fight.
I guess I’m just confused as to why. Why such a tough battle after so few chances to fight other monsters and enhance our teams? Why so many demons at once? Why the gang up mentality too?
I dunno. Maybe I’m just atrocious at strategy-based RPGs. I never did get to grind my skills early on with revered titles like Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre. Maybe that’s it. Or maybe Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Overclocked is broken, unbalanced, and I’ll never get to know what happens to the world when time runs out.