Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 is the 2nd game in the Nintendo DS strategy RPG series Devil Survivor, developed again for the DS despite a port of the original game being released for the 3DS. Taking place in 2 other cities in addition to the original game's setting of Tokyo, the game revolves around a simultaneous alien and demon invasion that occurs after a major earthquake strikes the Japanese capitol city. The gameplay once again features a fusion of traditional SRPG navigation and turn-based team battles during combat, as well as the auction and fusion systems of the previous game, all of which have been tweaked and received new features from Atlus, with the most notable of these being the Social Link-like "Fate" system.
A group of seven unknown invaders called the "Septentrion" suddenly appear and attack Japan on a Sunday, causing earthquakes and triggering an influx of demons in its wake. During this time, a website known as Nicaea also appears, uploading videos that depict the deaths of one's friends prior to their occurrence. To combat the invaders, the protagonist and his friends are forced to make contracts with the newly invading demons and make use of their powers, made only possible after they have one-on-one fights with their first demon and win the right to control them. In all, a group of 13 demon summoners are charged with defeating the seven Septentrion within seven days, with the ending and main character's standing with the other characters depending on the choices made and fights picked over the course of the week.
As in the previous game, Devil Survivor 2 is split up into two distinct segments: combat and navigation. Both segments operate in similar ways to the first game, but with new additions that add more options to the proceedings overall.
Combat still works on a turn-based system where teams of three demons, humans, or a combination of both navigate the battlefield in an isometric perspective, with the actual fighting commencing in a traditional turn-based RPG manner reminiscent of other Shin Megami Tensei games. Fights take a maximum of two turns, with the objective being to eliminate as much of the opposing team as possible in those turns. If the leader, who always stands in the middle, gets eliminated before the rest of the team are completely defeated, the entire team will be eradicated. However, it will reduce the overall amount of macca and experience that the player receives.
It is also once again possible to perform "skill cracking," an ability in which different party members are assigned to steal different abilities off certain enemies if they can defeat them personally, with the cracked/stolen ability able to either be added to the attacker immediately or entered into the overall ability pool that can be accessed while modifying team members' abilities outside of battle.
The two main additions to the combat system revolve around teammate dynamics. Tied to one's progress via the Fate system, as the player talks with and gets to know their comrades outside of battle, they unlock several different enhancements for each character. In battle, characters who are sufficiently far enough along in a relationship can have the ability to share their chosen skill crack with the main character and vice versa, enabling two characters to pursue two different skills that are still mutually unlockable by either one. The ability to forward demons to and from the protagonist and any close allies is also achieved via progress in the Fate system. Instead of summoning a new demon, the protagonist or an ally can chose to send one of their current demons to the other, thereby replacing one of the demon slots on the other end and forcing the original demon to reenter the backup stock. Characters that have sufficiently progressed in the Fate system also receive damage resistances to certain types of magic, as well as unlock access to new demon fusions for the main character.
Outside of battle, the player can do several things. Once again, in order to make the plot move forward, the player can choose how to spend their time in 30 minute portions by deciding who, what, and where to visit. Doing so normally triggers conversations with characters, often presenting the player with dialog choices that, depending on the importance of the event, can sway everything from the potential ending they get to how or what they fight in an upcoming battle, among other things. Progress in the Fate system is also triggered by talking to characters during this time; doing so enables one to see an individual character's storyline and help them overcome any and all personal problems they might have along the way.
The player may also prepare for battle during this segment of the game by doing one of several things. In addition to altering the ability loadouts for each team and which demons accompany the human characters, as in the original Devil Survivor, the player can either buy contracts to add new demons to the overall stock via the auction system or use the fusion system to combine existing demons into new ones. Both systems have changes and additions that alter how they work compared to the original game, however. The auction system has now been altered such that normal auctions allow the player to only enter one bid. Prior to bidding, though, they are allowed to see a general preview of what any and all AI opponents are likely to bid and as the bidding commences, they emit emoticons that express whether they've gone higher or lower than the base amount, or if haven't changed them at all. If a player wins an auction, they may choose to pay the bid or not, with the latter option either resulting in a stolen demon or a refusal by said demon to even join the team. Should the player choose to pay the demon, they may request an additional amount of money prior to being recruited, although they do sometimes offer partial refunds if given the money. An option to instantly buy a given demon is also readily available for every auction, although the price negotiation aspects that occur afterwards still take place.
Special auctions also exist in the game and are triggered randomly. These offer especially low minimum starting bids for certain demons and, like in the original game, enable the player to place multiple bids in one round until either all of the other bidders have surrendered or forced a round of final bidding to occur whereby everybody left is asked to enter the higher amount they're willing to pay for a given demon, with the highest amount netting that corresponding bidder the demon. While the player can exit the auction menu without revoking the privilege to take part in the special auctions, the auctions themselves naturally revert back to normal after the player partakes in a few of them. Different tiers of auctions are once again unlocked over the course of the game as the player continuously uses the auction system, thereby enabling access to progressively stronger demons.
The fusion system works mechanically similar to the first game, whereby the player still chooses two demons to fuse and can determine any and all abilities that the new demon will inherit before triggering the fusion, unlike in many other Shin Megami Tensei games where inheritance is determined at random. An appendix is also accessible again, enabling one to search for any and all demons they can fuse at any given moment according to a number of criteria such as demon type and whether or not the demons used for fusion are on a current team.
The one main addition made to the fusion system is the addition to further enhance the end results of a new fusion via a series of different unlocks that are gained through exceptional performance in battle. Although only one unlock can be used per fusion and the player can only carry six different unlocks at a given time, applying the unlocks to a given fusion grants such effects as skill point enhancements and access to new abilities the new demon would otherwise not inherit, among other things.
A student at a high school in Tokyo, the main character gains the ability to summon demons after an earthquake in the city results in the breakout of demons and nearly kills him and his friends. As a vector for the player's will, how the other characters perceive and react to the presence of the protagonist is dependent on the choices they make over time, shaping his identity and overall potential over the course of the story. The player may choose what sort of fighting style the protagonist specializes in through skill points gained at each level increase.
Daichi is a close friend of the protagonist who attends the same high school as him and gains the ability to summon demons under the same circumstances as the protagonist and Io. While willing and able to fight demons and other people when necessary, Daichi often expresses doubts about the fruitfulness of the task at hand and prefers running away from problems rather than facing them head-on. In battle, he is a character whose stat specifications favor physical combat over magic.
A fellow student who attends the same high school as the protagonist and Daichi, Io is known for both her good looks and her smarts. She gains the ability to summon demons at the same time and place as the protagonist and Daichi. Although more headstrong than Daichi, she still favors prefer to avoid battle whenever possible. Her stats are geared such that she is predominantly a magic user, although her physical attack stats are enough for her to deal out damage in that manner as well, whenever necessary.
In what is not necessarily a coincidence, the characters Daichi and Io share their surnames with elements from Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. "Shijima" is the name of the Reason formed by Hikawa, one of the game's three Reason Bearers, while "Nitta" is the surname of Isamu Nitta, a friend of Nocturne's protagonist and the creator of the Reason Musubi.
Fate System Bonuses
Rank up bonuses for the Fate system follow a linear order. At Rank 1 characters will gain specific elemental resistances, at Rank 2 they gain joint skill-cracking, at Rank 3 a new demon is unlocked for fusion, at Rank 4 a demon can be transferred remotely between the MC and selected party member, and Rank 5 unlocks a more powerful demon for fusion.
Ranks 2 and 4 are omitted from the table due to their uniform bonuses.
Demons are ordered by race, then by level from highest to lowest. In addition to demons earned through Fate relationships, some demons may be subject to meeting storyline or alignment requirements before they can be fused.
Suzuhito Yasuda, the artist behind popular anime and manga series such as Durarara and Baccano, is the game's main character designer. Adopting a style similar to that of what he used for the original Devil Survivor, he stated that he left the designs of the secondary characters to Atlus staff due to the increased amount of main characters he had to design for the sequel.
Mohiro Kitou is the designer behind the Septentrions' designs, having previously worked on other alien invasion-centric series such as the Rebuild of Evangelion movies. He was asked to maintain a "sense of life" to his creature designs and because of this, as well as the limitations of the DS hardware, he decided to give the creatures simple forms.
Kenji Ito, who's in charge of the background music, worked with Atlus' sound team and said that the sound of the game is "dark and hard," containing more symphonic elements in the audio than in the original Devil Survivor.
Shinjiro Takada, in addition to working on gameplay enhancements and refinements over the previous game, said during the game's development that he strove to make the game replayable.