Devil Summoner 2: Raidou vs. King Abaddon
Atlus’ wildly popular Shin Megami Tensei series marches onward on the PS2. Devil Summoner was a stylish action RPG that, like many other games in the SMT series, became a cult classic – and a collector’s item. Much like Nocturne, the RPG that came before it, the first Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs The Soulless Army now collects ridiculous prices online or at enthusiast shops. This sequel appears to be no different; shipping with a collectible plush toy, Devil Summoner 2 seems poised to become yet another gem for PS2 diehards to play on their battle-weary console.
The first Devil Summoner broke with Shin Megami Tensei tradition, featuring a real-time battle system instead of the classic turn-based gameplay. The setting was also fairly unique; the Raidou games cast players as the titular detective, a young student who keeps demons in holy tubes and uses them as part of his detective work. It struck a balance between wacky and dark that went unsurpassed until Persona 3 and 4 were released; and coupled with the one-of-a-kind setting of 1920s Japan, remains a delightfully unique experience.
Like the original game, Devil Summoner 2 mixes the staples of Shin Megami Tensei with fast-paced action RPG controls. Like other entries in the series, Devil Summoner encourages players to mix demons together to fuse even more powerful ones; these demons can then be summoned as helpers in battle. It’s a great mechanic to add to the otherwise ubiquitous hack-and-slash battles, providing the same depth and strategy that Persona or Nocturne would wield, but with a much faster-paced, satisfying slice of action.
A bizarre blend of history, mythology, and original writing, the story in Devil Summoner 2 will hook players, to say the least. Starting with a simple missing persons case, boy detective Raidou soon finds himself on a quest that could lead him to the mysterious King Abaddon – and ye Persona and other Shin Megami Tensei faithful, don’t forget to look Abaddon in your demon compendiums – and various other nefarious characters that need a good helping of demon tube.
The art direction is as stellar as always, and the graphics seem to be more polished than they were in Raidou’s original outing. A good deal of the repetition in the original game has been swept away, and the texture work looks a little cleaner. The animation is great, too, with Raidou and company looking quite stylish during fights. This slight amount of elbow grease really pushes the art to the forefront of the game. Like any Shin Megami Tensei title, the design is a terrific blend of realism and fantasy, with humans, demons, and locations full of variations that really keep things fresh the whole way through. While it doesn’t stack up to recent games on current consoles, Devil Summoner 2 puts the old PS2 to good use.
While many people have moved on to greener pastures, Atlus seem determined to milk every last drop of possibility from Sony’s famous console. Gamers who still pay attention to the old girl will surely be in for a treat once Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon hits shelves in May.