Revelations: The Demon Slayer is a little known Atlus RPG for the Game Boy system. It is part of one of Megami Tensei's many subdivisions; in this case Megami Tensei Last Bible. Is it anything like Revelations: Persona? Other than name and the ability to talk to demons, Revelations: The Demon Slayer is no portable Revelations: Persona.
Unlike other Megami Tensei titles, Demon Slayer does not take place in a modern day urban environment. Instead, it takes place in a technology-free fantasy world that is the staple of many traditional RPGs. As opposed to the dark, gritty city streets of a Persona game, Demon Slayer gives a lush green overland with a healthy population of trees.
In said world, lives our main hero - a green haired chap named El. He is a student of Gaia and is about to graduate. Gaia is a special power that allows one to use magic and to communicate with monsters. Of course, on graduation day, evil decides to rear its ugly head, and El being the great student and nice guy that he is, decides to go do something about it. Along the way, he meets two human companions named Kishe and Uranus, and many demon companions to aid him on his quest.
Doesn't sound like much of a story, does it? At heart it is a simple RPG tale of 'party saves the world from a big evil menace.' There are moments in the game where attempts at a complex plot and poignant tragedy are presented, but they fall flat. These 'interesting' moments are glazed over very quickly and with no resolution. In fact, the story itself just moves too quickly for the player to even realize what is happening. The big world as shown in the instruction manual is not so big after all. There is barely any text, and what little there is has no spelling or grammatical errors. However, it reads very dry.
Speaking of moving quickly, that's not how the control works. The character sprite moves slowly (about the same walking speed as in Pokemon Crystal), and his response to directional input is a tad sluggish. There were many times I walked past narrow exits due to the sluggish control response. Overall it's a minor niggle, but it's still noticeable, and I did find myself wishing for crisper control response.
I dug the graphics in this game. They're not anything special, but they're cleanly done and look nice. This game can be played on both Game Boy Color systems and on black-and-white Game Boy systems. However, unlike Pokemon Yellow, whose color looks incomplete and washed out, Demon Slayer's backdrops are colored quite well and are easy on the eyes. The game, on a Game Boy Color, looks as if it was optimized for color-only use. The overland is your basic grassy overland with plenty of nicely drawn sprite trees. The character sprites are nicely detailed, down to the stripes in Kishe's floppy hat.
During battles, the enemies generally have nicely drawn portraits and some of the monster designs look very creative. However, they do not animate, but rather flash when hit. Enemy animations would have been nice, but then again many 16-bit RPGs didn't have enemy animations, and it's not something that detracted from the game any.
One other thing I would have liked is to see your characters during battles, but this didn't diminish my enjoyment of the game. Though something that that did jar me a bit was that some of the enemies used the same portrait with the same color, but had different names and stats. Worse than palette swapping, this was simply name swapping. Thankfully, this was only done with two or so monsters and all the rest were unique.
My favorite part of the game's graphics was the towns. The towns in this game are surprisingly large and all have unique architecture. Unlike towns in other RPGs that are influenced by Arthurian medieval style with castles and all, the towns in Demon Slayer draw upon influences from other histories and cultures such as Aztec or Mayan style architecture. However, when entering buildings, the architecture takes on a more Greek bent with all the pillars surrounding the walls.
Unfortunately, all the towns use the same color scheme. The buildings are all tan on the outside and the floors are all light green on the inside. Had this cartridge been made for Game Boy Color only, I'm sure the developers could have varied up the color schemes for the towns. The towns have nice architecture, but some color differences would have really made them look more unique. But still, it was nice to play a fantasy RPG that did not have any castles.
The soundtrack could have used a little more variety as well. It's not a bad soundtrack, but the number of tracks played in the game can be counted on one's fingers. The music ranges from decent-but-forgettable to pretty cool. The overland theme is my favorite part of the soundtrack. It has a funky beat and a bounciness to it that no other overland theme I've ever heard has. The title music is great too. It has a haunting melody in a minor key. The regular battle theme has an upbeat rock feel that feels reminiscent of Persona 1's battle theme.
The boss theme is also pretty good. The regular boss theme has a rock-style beat and blends key changes from major to minor pretty well. It never got repetitive on me. The dungeon themes are the decent-but-forgettable variety. They don't sound bad, but are not catchy. A contrast from the overland, the 'underworld' uses a lot of minor keys in its composition.
The worst part of the soundtrack is the town theme. The town theme gets annoying really fast and is a more simplistic composition than the other themes. Luckily the town visuals are nice enough to let me forget about that annoying music. The airship theme is also pretty bad. It only lasts for ten seconds so it gets repetitive extremely quickly.
The gameplay is neither great nor horrible. Like most RPGs, you follow the dots in a linear town-dungeon-town-dungeon style. In contrast to the large towns, the dungeons are the absolute smallest dungeons I've ever encountered in an RPG. The final dungeon was only about two or three screens wide and three screens high. That's pathetically small for an ultimate dungeon. None of the dungeons had any dead ends either - all were insultingly linear. But the smallness of the dungeons is a godsend, because the random encounter rate is rather high, and a high encounter rate with a long dungeon is not pretty.
Combat is turn based and battles play out quickly. There is an auto-battle option that has the participants just use physical attacks to pound the enemy until you press a button to stop it. It's not advanced AI, but it is a nice convenience feature when you're pounding on weaker demons to build levels. After a human party member gains a level, you can distribute a point to one of their stats. I boosted up speed quite a bit so I could get turns before the enemy demon.
Demons in your party do not gain levels. They stay stagnant. However, Kishe has a magic ability called 'combine' that allows you to combine two demons together. Sometimes the combination will yield a stronger demon, sometimes not, so it is a good idea to save before combining so you know what you get and if you like it. The game can be saved anywhere you want outside of battle, which is very convenient.
Like other Megami Tensei games, you are allowed to talk to the demons, provided your levels aren't too far below theirs. However, unlike the Persona games, talking to demons is quite simplistic. When you select the 'talk' command during a battle with the demon, you can either have any of the human characters or any of the three demons in your party talk. When El is the designated talker, the demon will ask a series of yes/no questions. There is no Q-and-A when another party member talks. The questions are often repetitive and it's difficult to get an idea of a demon's temperament based on them. Also, many question and answer choices don't match up well thus creating extra confusion. I often had my demons do the communicating as they were often more successful.
If a negotiation is successful, the demon will join your party, unless it is full. You can have up to ten demons in your party, and three active in battle. This makes for six-member parties, and you can switch demons in and out once per turn. What is also great is that, if you have a particular demon in your party and you encounter that same demon, you can have any demon talk to it, and the enemy demons will leave you alone. This was a nice feature for when random battles got annoying.
So how is the challenge? The game is not very challenging, but it is tedious. As I said before, the dungeons are very short. As far as bosses are concerned, they have a lot of hit points, but are not difficult to kill, especially if your combines yield strong demons.
The tedium lies in the bane of most RPGs: level building. Your human characters build levels fairly slowly, and high levels are key to winning most of the battles. Also, weapons and armor are quite expensive in the towns, and the enemies don't drop much money, so earning money and EXP is a time-consuming chore. I think this is just there to pad out the playtime; without all of the combat, one could likely finish this game in a handful of hours. I think (the game does not have a clock) I finished this game in about 12 hours, but it took me months to do so. I had to take lots of breaks from the monotony of mindless level building. By doing so, it was made bearable.
Overall, I find it very difficult to give this game anything higher than a C+. It has some interesting ideas, but there are no outstanding features that can make me give anything more than a half-hearted recommendation for this game. I liked it myself, to be sure, but there are too many flaws in Demon Slayer that most RPG players would find difficult to forgive in an RPG released in 1999. Were this game released in 1989, one would easily be more forgiving. I can only recommend this game if you are a die-hard Megami Tensei collector, and even then I'd say only get it if it's under ten bucks.