raise the dead became the next novelty. After personas 5 took the world by storm, Atlus brought back Shin Megami Tensei 5 and now it’s okay Soul Hackers 2. This trend of reviving games from old series follows New Pokemon Snap, NEO: the world stops with you, and other games brought back from purgatory. Now there’s another series that Atlus should be getting into, and that’s surviving devil.
surviving devil is just one of many Shin Megami Tensei spin-off series, but it was one of the most successful and one of the first to be readily available for Nintendo consoles worldwide. It was advertised as Shin Megami Tensei spin-off from the start, as evidenced by its full name, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor.
So what separates surviving devil the other Shin Megami Tensei Games?
Good, surviving devil turns typical turn-based combat and summoning demons into a strategic role-playing game. Think fire emblemcorn Shin Megami Tensei. Each character fights with a team of demons, much like the main series setup. However, players control several teams of these characters. You command characters and their groups on the field, allocating resources to defeat hordes of demons and complete objectives on a gridded map.
Henry Gilbert, who reviewed the original surviving devil for Game radars, notes that battles “deepen considerably” with the number of decisions players have to juggle. “Do you kill the central enemy quickly or attack their support characters first to get more experience and money? Are you skipping an attack this round to go earlier next round? These are just some of the decisions that make Quick Battles so addictive as you and your collection of demons fight for good,” he wrote.
Even better, the demon summoning program gives players several options on how to merge their demons to become stronger. It overlays the game’s already deep strategy and could be a lifeline in tougher late-game battles, depending on your melds. This overlaps somewhat Shin Megami Tensei proper, though the stats depend more on whether the demons were raised to a lower level or captured specifically for fusion.
surviving devil also shares some themes with Shin Megami Tensei, especially moral ambiguity and the conflict between order and chaos. Both the original and the sequel masterfully juggle these story concepts and beats, leading to multiple outcomes like in other MegaTen games and their spinoffs. Thus, the game reinforces that your decisions matter and lives are at stake. It also blends into the dynamic between a group of high school friends like Character to keep a certain lightness.
The first one surviving devil features a high school protagonist and his friends, who are suddenly caught in the middle of a demon outbreak in Tokyo. They fight using demon summoning devices called COMPs and use them to help law enforcement hunt demons, unravel the mystery behind the demon’s attack, and prevent the apocalypse. You have seven days to live and time is literally running out. Each character has a death clock that is in danger of running out. devil survivor 2 follows a similar premise, where the characters investigate a website that predicts your death, but the characters, motives, and settings differ.
Critics loved it surviving devil, and it obviously did well enough to warrant a sequel. Both games and their subsequent remasters achieved high ratings between the 70s and 80s. Devil Survivor 2 Record Breakerthe remaster of the original devil survivor 2, stood out as the highest with a Metacritic score of 84. It even earned an anime of the same name, although its objective quality is questionable. (Note that user scores for the games are skewed due to a review bombing incident a few years ago.)
I took Overclocked Devil Survivor from GameStop in high school, where I perfected the Shin Megami Tensei title and bought it for sale from the bargain bin. I took it for a main line game Shin Megami Tensei series because of its full name, so it ended up being completely different from what I expected, but I’m glad I played it.
It’s been about 7 years since the last surviving devil game, which was Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker. There was no sign of a devil survivor 3, although there is apparent interest based on sales figures and forum banter. Always, Soul Hackers 2 came out of nowhere, so there’s still hope for a new installment in this underrated spin-off series.
surviving devil and devil survivor 2 are available for the Nintendo DS. Overclocked Devil Survivor and Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker, their respective remasters, are available for the 3DS. If you are a Shin Megami Tensei Where Character fan, check them. You might even find them in a GameStop trash can.