Retro Play: Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga
Back is 2005, the PS2 was still at the top of the dog pile of consoles and especially so with Japanese RPG’s, but we were also on the cusp of seeing the gaming industry shift once again. We still remember that shift being the one from the solo player to the social player, and the slow descent of PS2 into retirement.
But PS2 wasn’t ready to pass the torch yet and one of the reasons why lies in the classic and phenomenal duology Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga.
It is Known in Japan as “Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner” and our tale starts in the Junkyard, a town of endless rain. With his four friends, Serf, the main character and a member of a tribe called Embryon, sets out for Nirvana.
He’s quite the textbook silent hero. The religious overtones are obvious right off the bat, including with Nirvana, a land that can only be reached by the champions of Junkyard. Serf and pals devote themselves to fighting against the never-ending resistance mustered by other tribes, and this gives the narrative an 80’s inspired post-apocalyptic setting.
In the midst of chaos, a mysterious object, the Pod, suddenly appears and this is where things get intense. Countless spheres of light are emitted by the Pod and infect Serf and his comrades, awakening their demonic powers. The demonic motif of SMT games makes it mark.
An unimaginable battle unfolds within their faint conscience. They develop a desire to tear the flesh and shatter the bones of their enemies, who have also been transformed. Their instincts tell them to devour every being in their path, and this is where we get into the crux of the tale’s motives.
Not too long after, a dark-haired girl, Sera, comes to their rescue, allowing them to reach a point of sanity. Although she does not know where she came from, she holds a strange power which is the power to control the party’s demonic transformation. They receive orders from the Church of Karma to head for Nirvana, and from there you’ll spend many hours learning to “Devour” your enemies and absorb their devastating powers and special abilities!
It is your good old school grinding JRPG. First and foremost you’ll be spending a lot of time in dungeons and fighting a ton of enemies. On the other hand, you’ll also have a slowly building story that rewards those who can hang in there.
This also wouldn’t be a SMT game without the challenge, and that’s what you’ll get. For us, it was one of the earlier games that really forced us to be thoughtful and patient because one wrong turn could be a loss of good progress or something just as frustrating, but at the same time, it was very rewarding when you were successful. It made you feel good about yourself.
For those of you still with your PS3’s, you’re in luck! The Saga is available digitally to play as part of the PS2 classics collection. Trust us! It’s worth a replay!