Even though it came from a franchise full of outstanding, definitive RPGs, the original Devil Survivor managed to stand out as among the absolute best that the Shin Megami Tensei series had to offer. A tight, well-paced plot, great music, addictive and complex gameplay, and a multitude of totally different (and equally interesting) endings all added up to a game that was an incredible experience and value, even in the crowded Nintendo DS library. When Atlus took that same game and added a reasonable amount of new content on top of the already excellent foundation, they created what is unquestionably the best game on the 3DS right now – although admittedly that doesn’t give this game nearly the credit it deserves.
The basic gameplay and story are unchanged from the original release. You still play as a silent protagonist who finds himself trapped inside the Yamanote circle with his friends, Atsuro and Yuzu. Demons have flooded into the area via machines called COMPs, and everyone in the area only has a few days to live. The plot is interesting and superbly paced, and your decisions regarding where to go and who to align yourself with result in one of several different finales.
The gameplay itself is a fusion of turn-based strategy and turn-based combat. You take turns with your enemies moving about a grid-based battlefield, attempting to fulfill whatever victory conditions that have been set. However, instead of characters whacking each other on the map screen, attacking a foe initiates a round of turn-based combat in which you can acquire additional attacks and bonus damage by aiming for the enemy’s weaknesses. Enemies and friendly demons line up in threes. Taking out the center opponent will instantly defeat that team, but will also earn you less experience than defeating every foe. The difficulty is about what SMT veterans have come to expect – which is to say it is challenging and you can die quickly, but it’s never unfair. Planning and strategy will win the day every time.
The audio appears unchanged from the DS version, aside from sounding a little bit cleaner. There’s still a rocking good soundtrack that gets you pumped for battle, and Reset, the main theme, is as catchy as ever. Devil Survivor’s new voice acting, while welcome and nearly comprehensive, is a bit spotty, though. Some characters, like Atsuro, sound great and complement the cast quite nicely. On the other hand, some characters (like Midori) sound awful and usually resulted in a quick read and fast button press when their lines came up. All in all, though, the voice acting helps the game feel a little more immersive, and adds more than it detracts from the experience.
Alternatively, the graphics are clearly the game’s weak link. They aren’t bad by any means, but they weren’t terrifically impressive on the DS, and they’re only slightly enhanced for the 3DS. However, the art and backgrounds look fantastic, and the greater resolution certainly makes the game look cleaner. The game makes sparing (and usually pointless) use of the 3D effects, but 3D wasn’t going to enhance the experience in any meaningful way to begin with. Simply put, Overclocked looks and sounds a bit cleaner than its original DS incarnation, but it’s nothing to write home about.
The additions are likely going to be what sells the game, and on this front I’m happy to say that the game offers enough refinements to make it worthwhile for veterans to dive back in. The turbo speed for battles is a brilliant feature and helps cut down on the time you spend watching enemies move. New game plus is present, and a system of achievements and bonuses helps keep the amount of wasted time on subsequent playthroughs at a merciful minimum. The number of save slots is expanded to three, and there are a number of new demons and skills to play around with. The 8th Day scenarios are fairly substantial and offer a nice amount of new content, but the fact that not every path has one is a huge disappointment. From a story perspective, the absence of final days for every path makes sense, but that doesn’t make it any less saddening to get to the end of your favorite path (like I did) and discover that the game ends as it had in the original.
The addition of a demon compendium for accessing needed demons (for fusion or otherwise) is another great addition that was glaringly omitted from the original. The compendium allows you to register any of your demons, including their level, stats, and skill loadout, and for a fee you can create a new copy of that demon at any time. The compendium cuts out a lot of the grinding and guesswork that used to come from trying to optimize and tweak your team, and it’s a feature that was found in other Shin Megami Tensei games, so its addition here makes sense and is wholly welcome.
Beyond all of that, there isn’t much else to say. If you loved Devil Survivor on DS, you’ll find that this is undoubtedly the definitive version, and offers enough new enhancements to make it worth your while. New players will find this version to be the best as well, as the host of refinements makes it even more playable than it was before by cleaning up some of the most time-consuming elements of the original. Devil Survivor: Overclocked is a great expansion on an awesome game that offers hours and hours of quality strategy-RPG gameplay.