Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner Overclocked is a game I’ve been playing off and on now since Hurricane Irene hit way back in August 2011. And yet, according to my save slot, I’ve only logged around thirty-five hours. I suspect that I’ve played maybe six to seven–heck, possibly eight–more hours than that, as the game naturally doesn’t count time lost when you struggle through a 45-minute battle only to wipe in the end because the upswing in difficulty took you by surprise yet again.
It’s a really frustrating game that I, at the same time, enjoy a lot about. The voice acting, not counting Midori or most of Yuzu’s lines about demons and the government, is really good and helps keep me engaged in the somewhat stretched plot. You also get to make choices, the kind that do effect the story, determining who stays in your party and who doesn’t. So far, I’ve lost a few peeps who I won’t mention for those that care about spoilers. And the demon fusion, which can be a brainteaser at times, allows you to customize the demons in your party and level them up through cosmic breeding rather than gaining experience points (which takes longer). The heavy, distortion-based electronica tunes, few that there are, really rock and stick with you as you battle or re-arrange your team.
It’s just that the combat can feel at times grossly overwhelming and unfair. But combat’s how you proceed, and so you have to learn. Which I think I have over my thirty-five-plus hours playing the game, but the latest fight I’m stuck at suddenly pulls the rug out from under you at its very end, pointing a gnarled finger between your eyes and berating you for not grinding enough. Let me explain.
I’m actually pretty close to the end of Devil Summoner Overclocked. Well, I think. The 3DS version supposedly gets a bonus eighth day of action. Currently, P-San and his friends are nearing the end of Day Six, which is supposed to culminate with another big battle against some Bel-named demon. Belial, perhaps. Anyways, it is 4:30 PM, and the only options are a single free battle location or to advance the story with a Honda-related battle. This is my current sinkhole, stuck point, unbreakable wall–what have you. Basically, Honda and some friends are trying to escape the lockdown, and you have to decide to whether to assist or stop them, as well as siding with the demons or angels there to get in the way–or none of the above. The win/lose factors can change dramatically based on your choice here.
I can handle Honda and the two civs trying to escape just fine; the problem is that when you kill a team of either demons or angels–who will fight each other at times, too–a second version appears. The angel ones aren’t anything crazy difficult though they love using Recairn to bring back fallen friends. It’s the demons that ruin all my tactics, and I’m specifically talking about this frakker right here:
That’s a Decarabia, the sixty-ninth spirit listed in the Goetia. Whatever that means. Regardless, this pentagram star is quite annoying, especially when the demon team consists of three of them. Why? Well, they love spamming the Shield All spell, which protects themselves from a single attack, and they seem to always do it right before my team gets to attack, thus wasting our entire turn. Secondly, they all have Fallen’s Mark, a racial skill that says if a Decarabia defeats an enemy, some HP and MP is restored to the entire team, based on the level of the defeated enemy. So, in short, they protect themselves from most damage I can do, and then when they off a supporting demon or main character, they restore a majority of their HP and MP. From what I can tell, the second spawnings of Decarabia are around level 48, and I’m able to take down them all save for the team made of three Decarabias. So, with P-San and fellow friends around 45/46 we have no choice but the grind. Unless there’s a strategy I’m missing.
I will beat Devil Summoner Overclocked. I will get P-San and his remaining friends out of the lockdown, for better or for worse. I will escape my own Decarabia-shaped lockdown, and then I too will be free.