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    dkirschner's Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 (PS2)

    [August 2, 2012 10:30:24 PM]
    It's interesting how fine the line can be between methodical and tedious. I played another dungeon and change in DDS in the last 2 days and I seem to have crossed the line. I pinpointed some reasons:

    (1) My Perfectly Planned Characters - I spent a lot of time mapping out my perfectly planned characters through choosing skills in the mantra grid. I would have all the major bases covered, all the elemental attacks and defenses, all the status cures, all the healing and resurrection...everything would be spread out across my party, and some really important things would be doubled up. But then, DDS began killing off my characters! The one I relied upon for Death and Expel magics? DEAD! Now what happens when I face enemies who are strong/weak to Death and Expel? I have immense trouble because no one else learned death and expel magic and no one else can defend against it! She was also my secondary healer, so now I have only one healer. In addition, DDS takes your main character away for the duration of a long dungeon! That's the one you rely on most usually, right? GONE! Then DDS gives you a simulacra for a while, and then gives you your main character back. So the dungeon I'm in now, I have two of the exact same character, my healer/electricity person and my force/physical person. They took away my alt healer, my earth, death, expel and ice people. It is really debilitating!

    (2) Enemies Becoming Superbeings - For the first half of the game, I'd analyze an enemy and find out that it had 2 or 3 strengths and weaknesses, so I had a few things I could safely attack it with and a few to avoid. The scales are so tipped against me now. When I analyze an enemy now, there will typically be one weakness (which is half the time the aforementioned death/expel/earth that I no longer have) and about 6 strengths. Needless to say, this also sucks.

    (3) 1 + 2 = I Quit - Having enemies only weak to one thing, and then not having that thing because the game keeps screwing with my party is making me frustrated. And things that I liked/didn't mind before are just exacerbating it now, like the long dungeons/confusing story. And I can't just learn the spells I'm missing again because it takes time and grinding in the dungeons. I can get like the basic earth or healing spells pretty quickly, but the ones with more oomph that I need will take a while. And then while I'm worrying about replacing skills that I already had once, I'm not getting any new ones. So I fee like my characters are just growing too weak and spreading themselves out. Where once I felt like I could reliably progress through the mantra grid and learn skills I needed according to how I thought would be useful, I find now that the game will mess up your plan. Added challenge, sure, but I don't want that challenge. And the type of challenge it's added is one of tedious grinding, not strategy.

    So boo on you DDS2.

    Oh also, the "Jamaican" character has revealed himself to be of "Latin" origin! Even though he doesn't sound Latin at all, whatever Latin means. He sounds like a terrible imitation of a Jamaican or some kind of Caribbean islander.

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    [August 2, 2012 12:54:01 AM]
    Been playing this since the weekend and loving it. I played the first DDS game years ago, and this one feels familiar. The characters are mostly the same, and I like them all except the same one I hated back in DDS1: Cielo, the mandatory character with the irritating accent. In this case, it's a very poor Jamaican. "Ya mon, dere be monsters in de dungeon, ja!" And he has stupid blue dredlocks.

    The most interesting thing to me about this game is that I now have a better understanding of and appreciation for the Shin Megami Tensei series, or Megaten as fans call it. I won't call it Megaten because I don't feel cool enough. I'll say SMT. Back during DDS, I had no idea that SMT was a series. Then a few years later, which was a few years ago, I played SMT: Persona 3. I suppose since it had been a few years, I didn't recognize Persona 3 as from the SMT universe. But fastforward to now and I recognize all the spells and enemies in DDS2 from Persona 3. It's like the Final Fantasy conventions that you recognize game after game. Agi is fire, Bufu ice, Zio electricity...putting Ma- in front of it makes it hit all enemies. Putting -dyne at the end makes it really strong. The enemies are all also the same. I remember Persona 3 very vividly because it was so cool and I spent a lot of time with it, and a lot of the personas or whatever from that game are enemies here, with the same elemental strengths and weaknesses. Like I said, it makes the game more familiar and like you're fighting old enemies.

    Besides the SMT universe, DDS2 is a fairly standard turn-based RPG. You run through the levels engaging random battles, fighting bosses along the way, until you get to the end and move the story forward, go to the next dungeon, fight, boss, story, next dungeon, and on and on. The battles are pretty standard. The story sets it up such that your characters can transform into demons, but they're transformed automatically for battle and 'reverting' to human form is basically treated like any other status effect. So in practice, the whole transformation thing doesn't carry much weight. You can use a few nice combo moves if someone is in human form, but that's it. You get one turn per character, but if you score a crit or expose an enemy's weakness, you only use 1/2 a turn. So with 3 characters, by playing weaknesses, you can get 6 turns. All enemies have preset strengths and weaknesses. If you hit a weakness, sometimes the enemy becomes 'frightened' and you can 'devour' them when you're in demon form. Devouring enemies nets you extra AP, which are the points that you use to learn skills. There's a big 'mantra [skill] grid' where you select which spells and abilities characters will learn. You pay money to 'download' the mantra and then that character learns it through earning AP from battle. So devouring enemies just lets you learn mantras faster, which isn't necessarily desirable because they become very expensive to download the more powerful they are, and what I ended up with from constantly consuming was that everyone knew all these cheap mantras since I never saved money to learn the better ones because I learned them so fast because I devoured so much and got so much AP. Confusing sentence.

    The story is some kind of post-apocalyptic sci-fi tale. In the first DDS game, you were a tribe in 'the Junkyard' fighting for dominance. Some mystery girl appeared and something something you wake up in a ruined city. In DDS2 it is revealed that you are just AI in a computer program and that the Junkward was a warfare simulation to find the best AI, which is your tribe. But now you're kind of going rogue and assaulting the Karma Society which rules the wasted earth. There's a virus caused by sunlight that turns people to stone, so everyone lives underground, and the Karma Society's project...well, I can't recall what exactly it was for. Anyway...I honestly don't quite understand what I'm doing, but I'm enjoying doing it. The game flows in a very formulaic way that I like, and the dungeons are such that you need to explore every corner for items, and it's very orderly, which I like. I can go through DDS2 being very logical and methodical.

    The dungeons themselves are HUGE. The last one took me maybe 4 hours. I can't exactly remember how long because I took a long break in between. In the last one I was in, I got stumped as to how to proceed at one point and had to go to a walkthrough. There were all these gates that you had to find the correct switches to open, and I had it all done except for this one switch that I couldn't find! It was tricky, but you had to do some backtracking to get around a locked door and open something else from behind. So that took a while. The boss battles weren't bad, but I think that's primarily because I'd done some level grinding in the previous dungeon where the final boss had me on the ropes. That's the other time I had to look at a walkthrough because he was kicking my ass. He'd change his strengths and weaknesses throughout the battle and I couldn't figure out a pattern. Turns out there were just 3 phases, and once he goes through all 3 in turn, then it's random phase switches instead of predictable ones. And that battle forced me to use a benched character who was level 19 (my main party was like 26). So I took time there to level grind to like 25 and 30, and I think that helped in this most recent dungeon.

    A-n-y-w-a-y. Good times. Maybe I can kill it this weekend and move on to the next thing. There's this website called that has evolved a lot since I first signed up for it over a year ago. But one thing it lets users do it backlog their games, and then it adds up how long your backlog will take to complete based on everyone's submitted completion times. I sat down the other day out of curiosity and entered every game I own but had never played, and the number it spat out...70+ DAYS. I have 70 DAYS worth of unplayed video games. It's hard to express how futile this makes it feel, haha.
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    dkirschner's Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2 (PS2)

    Current Status: Stopped playing - Got frustrated

    GameLog started on: Sunday 29 July, 2012

    GameLog closed on: Thursday 2 August, 2012

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Really fun so far, nice and weird. Cool skill hex grid, familiar enemies and magic from other SMT games. ----------- Frustrating. Hard to get skills you need, enemies and dungeons hard and tedious. Game kills my characters.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstar

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