SMT Digital Devil Saga 1 Retrospective

Digital Devil Saga is a Playstation game that was released by Atlus following the success of Nocturne. It is not part of the main series, although it shares many similarities. The game was released 2004, and the designs were once again done by legendary Kazuma Kaneko.

-Characters-

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Serph (center) is the leader of his clan, Embryon. Like most of the SMT heroes, he is a silent protagonist. He comes into a black haired girl named Sera, and needs to lead her and his clan to Nirvana, the promised land.

Sera is special in that she does not have colorful hair. People in the world of Junkyard call her cyber shaman, pretty badass. She mysteriously appeared in the Junkyard along with strange event that allows the citizen to transform into demons, including the main characters.

Heat seems like the second in command, however, he and Serph rarely see eye-to-eye. Heat seems to have a major crush on Sera and it can get in way to things from time to time.

 

-World-

Junkyard is the name of this world. There are several tribes that fight each other for territorial survival. Each clan has a leader and a color to represent them. Everyone who lives here believe that there is a paradise called Nirvana which they can escape to.

Most of the names and visuals are inspired by Hindu religion. I mean look at the names of cities. And Nirvana is another Hindu inspired heaven. The skills in the game are called Mantra and some of the architectures reference Hinduism as well.

 

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After arrival of Sera, people started to be able to transform into demons, and have a craving to eat each other. Apart from the main cast and a number of bosses, most of the people seem to transform into your classical SMT demons like Jack Frost, Thor, and so on.

 

-Story-

One day a mysterious girl, Sera, arrived in the Junkyard. And the main ruling authority, the Karma Temple, said anyone that can bring Sera to them will gain access to Nirvana.

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With arrival of Sera, the people of Junkyard gained ability to become demons. But along with this power came insatiable hunger to eat each other. To get stronger, people have to devour each other.

Throughout their journey, there are a lot things happening. There are territorial fights, betrayals, and emotional sacrifices. And a plot that makes the cast question that nothing they see may be real.

 

-Gameplay-

Gameplay has a lot of similarities and difference from Nocturne (discussed here).

Similarities include return of the press turn system, general battle moves and condition. Again, buffing and debuffing could save or break the battle.

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Differences is mostly regarding how skills are obtained and organized. In Nocturne, if you lose a skill, it is gone forever. Here, there is a skill bank, in form of the Mantra Data, so all of the characters can switch skill in and out easily. This makes the game easier, but also really infuriating.

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Because the Skill achieved are set in a branch system, you have to learn the weakest, and medium to unlock string magics. It does not sound too bad right? That is what I though until I realize I needed a specific skill to fight a boss. Now I have to start a new branch from scratch and grind 4-5 hours to get the right skills. I like grinding and working for the skills, but this was a little too much. Thankfully, this was addressed in the sequels.

 

-How does it hold up-

I had so much fun playing this game. Sure, there were frustrating parts, but the game looks great, and plays great. There are a lot of similarities to Nocturne in gameplay, but it is different enough to be its own.

Length wise, it is a lot shorter than Nocturne. I believe I finished this in about 40 hours. But the story, while more linear, is better constructed than Nocturne’s. The sequel addresses many of the problems from this one, so I will talk about that next!

What did you think about Digital Devil Saga 1?

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