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Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker Review

by Donald Theriault - May 4, 2015, 8:00 am EDT
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Caution: Will conquer your life if you let it.

There’s an old Bruce Lee quote that is often thrown around by fans of the Shin Megami Tensei series after it was included in Persona 4: “Don’t think. Feel.” That’s never been truer than in the newest MegaTen game, Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker. You can’t delay executing your battle strategy, and you have to watch what you say unless you want to troll all of your teammates. It’s the thrill of executing quickly that kept me going through Record Breaker, and why it’s definitely worth considering for 3DS RPG players.


The game looks and sounds great. The characters are well designed even if some of the ones you interact with are exaggerated beyond belief in certain chesty aspects. The demon designs pop well on the screen and are a marked improvement from Shin Megami Tensei IV. The battle effects scale well – minor attacks have small animations, while world-destroying moves are appropriately apocalyptic. The only concern on the graphical end is the game not using the larger 3DS screen for more than a stat display window, especially when it cuts off the well-designed backgrounds during the story sequences. The soundtrack was good enough to forego my usual habit of catching up on podcasts, with the skirmish themes being among the most memorable.

Record Breaker presents a set of characters that each have their unique charms, and although they fall into stereotypes quickly during the early part of the game, the whole point of the game’s FATE system is to try and get them out of it through actual character development. The game has two quests – the original Devil Survivor 2 quest known as the “Septentriones” and the 3DS-exclusive “Triangulum” – and the original quest does a better job of building the characters by simply having far more time to grow the characters. Since the Triangulum is meant to be played by people who have beaten the original story, the way the characters grow in the second quest can be explained. However, this second quest jumps off from the first by way of an ending even better than the “golden ending” I got, which would have made the endgame fights far easier to work with.

The one major complaint I’ve had about MegaTen games through the years is the inability to customize the protagonist beyond his – and it’s usually a “his” - name. There’s no options for choosing a female, or even modifying the character’s clothing. It seems that this will be the norm for major projects going forward as the need to create an iconic character for use in manga, anime and other cross-media projects increases. You have plenty of chances to express your own personality through his interactions with other characters, which lets you play him as a standard heroic character or an absolute troll – including being quite all right with two female characters landing on particular parts of his body, thank you very much. Even the somewhat racy medical exam scene, which is mainly an excuse to hang a lampshade on the artist appeal, is made bearable by the options you have and the main character’s facial expressions. His “I can’t believe I’m getting away with this” glance toward the player is the perfect forum avatar.


Devil Survivor, at its core, is a Shin Megami Tensei game – demon-summoning RPG involving saving Tokyo – played out under Fire Emblem rules of one-round skirmishes and movement on a map. And like you would expect from those two franchises, there will be battles that will drive you insane. Not even being able to see everything the enemies can do at a quick glance as well as their elemental properties will help in some cases, especially with the late game bosses. Once you figure out the best way to proceed, you can set up a quick win, but learning that without a guide can be maddening. Grinding isn’t all that necessary if you’re being overpowered; the game lets you purchase new demons at appropriate levels before every battle, and demon fusion will let you create new demons that combine the best of the ingredients to let you get around most battles. The FATE (relationship) system gives you access to more powerful demons in the late game as long as you have happy characters, which will surely save your hide in the late game. However, that limits your options for dialogue if you want to boost happiness. Even on the lower of the difficulty options, I ended up with about a 30% difference between the game clear clocks and the 3DS activity log clock from soft resetting (L+R+Start) when things were completely hopeless. Thankfully, dialogue skipping (R+Y) is available to get back to the starting point of the battle quickly.

If the story hooks you, you’ll be in for a long haul as Devil Survivor 2 has loads of content. There’s four starting points for story endings in the main game, and even variations on those depending on how you treat the characters. The second quest has multiple endings as well, so 100% completionists will be in for a grand old time. If you prefer the ability to rip games in half, the New Game+ function returns from the original Devil Survivor game, complete with the option to only bring certain things such as your levels or demon compendium forward. In fact, carrying the demons forward is the only way you’ll see them all. Downloadable missions have been previously announced and reviewers have been given access to them. They can serve to replace the free battles or catch up on skills that you missed in the battles, but they aren’t essential to completing the game. In case you’re worried about the levels losing their effectiveness, the enemy levels do scale to yours so it’s not going to be that much of a cakewalk. The last one, “Addonitorium”, is quite vicious with its enemies, which makes sense where the reward is an advanced game function.

Because it was a 2012 DS game, the first release of Devil Survivor 2 flew under the radar of a lot of strategy RPG players. If you’re one of those, or want something that can take up a lot of time, then Record Breaker should be on your radar.


  • Not a lot of level grinding required
  • Plenty of reasons to replay
  • Rockin’ soundtrack
  • Even lower difficulties have waves of cheap bosses
  • Limited character customization options
  • Odd second-screen use

This reviewer was provided with a download code and access to the DLC for free for purposes of this review by Atlus.

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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker Box Art

Genre RPG
Developer Atlus

Worldwide Releases

na: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2: Record Breaker
Release May 05, 2015
jpn: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker
Release Jan 29, 2015
eu: Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker
Release Oct 29, 2015
PublisherNippon Ichi Software
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