This blog is for games I didn't play when they were new but went back to at some point. I didn't beat all of them, but I wanted to give them some recognition in case people are looking for games to play during the summer drought. I decided to cut it into multiple parts because it was looking kinda long after Persona 2.
Digital Devil Saga 1 and 2(PS2)
The Digital Devil Saga games are part of the Shin Megami Tensei Which I admittedly may be a little bit in love with. I actually first heard about these games when Unskippable did an episode using the opening cut scene of the first game. It looked weird from that, but I had no idea. If you want full plot details they're out there so I won't use this blog for that, but I will say that basically you're demons. Also, you eat other demons. Though the overall plot is about warring tribes attempting to ascend to "Nirvana" by being the last one standing, they take a heavy focus(especially the second one) on identity and what it means to be human.
The gameplay is your basic SMT battle system with the strengths and weaknesses and such, though there's a different mechanic at play here. Along with your normal EXP, you equip each character with essentially a title that gains it's own EXP from battles. The exp they earn is split between each active one(characters not in the active party still get EXP) or a character can kill an enemy with a devour attack to get a bonus, but not share any of the exp. Oh, you can also shoot things in human form, but why would you wanna do that?
Unfortunately, this game forces you to use almost everyone at some point and seems to expect you to build up everyone equally based on the design of the boss encounters. I of course chose to focus on as few people as possible which made a few encounters frustrating, but it was all doable with minimal purposeful grinding.
The cast of characters were interesting enough that I managed to grow some form attachment to most of them and care about how the story played out. Although, I also managed to grow attached to my custom characters in Final Fantasy Tactics. Take that how you will.
If anyone decides to play these games. I warn you. The ending sequence for me was a huge "what the fuck?" moment.(Or "I do not comprehend")
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne(PS2)
Yeah, another SMT game. This one is actually very different and way more punishing. Nocturne is actually probably one of the most difficult RPGs I've played to date. Nocturne has a lot of similarities to the Persona series (minus the social sim stuff), so if you're a fan of those games for reasons other than the incredible writing, Nocturne might be worth checking out.
I actually quit this game for about a year after going through some dungeon, forgetting to save, and getting my ass handed to me by Mot. But eventually I went back and completed it with relative ease.
Put simply, the game begins when the world ends. You take control of a self-named, silent-protagonist, demi-fiend. Throughout the game you will come in contact with a number of different factions who all have their own ideas of how to create the new world and you will make choices that will trigger "flags" along the way to result in one of the 7 or 8 different endings. Basically, it's up to you to decide how you want to create the new world.
Yep, it's an SMT game. That means it's an RPG with all the strengths and weaknesses and other fun stuff that comes with it. That includes the high levels of party customization. You yourself will recieve stat points whenever you level up to allocate however you like(I maxed out my strength. fully buffed/debuffed and focused ironclaw made for fun times on boss fights when it got a crit.) Also, there's a plethora of magatama for you to ingest which grant different stat bonuses, strengths, nulls, weaknesses, reflects, etc as well as grant new abilities when you level up depending on which you currently have ingested. Your party does not consist of any other characters. Your other 3 party members are demons you recruit or fuse along the way. I ended with a party of Yurlunger, Pale Rider, and Garuda.
The combat plays out like it does in DDS with turn counters, 1 for each party member. A crit or a weakness consumes half a turn. A dodge/miss/reflect/null consumes 2 turns. This game gets hard. Especially if you pursue all the candelabra so you will need to take full advantage of this system.
As far as story and character development go I don't remember it being real heavy, but it was still a fun journy.
Persona 2(PS1) Last Atlus game, I swear!
I'll start by saying, I didn't beat this game, but I really really want to.
You take control of 20something reporter Maya Amano(I hope the name Mayumi Yamano from Persona 4 wasn't a coincidence) who is sent to report on a murder in a high school..I think. From there things start to get strange. You are confronted by Joker who's basically a dude with a paper bag on his head. He prompts you to call out your persona. From there, it becomes a Persona game without the social sim.
Persona 2 keeps with a theme that seems to present in 3 and 4 that is a "will of man" type thing. In this game, it is said that rumors become true. Joker is originated from the rumor that calling a certain phone number will get someone that you want dead killed. Turns out, this becomes true, just like every other rumor. This is actually a gameplay mechanic. You are able to go into what is basically a rumor shop and have a guy there circulate rumors such as "this shop is selling weapons!" and hey, it becomes true.
Now, I should say exactly how far I got. I am literally right after the museum sequence where you first get to control Tatsuya in a battle. The reason for my stopping is 2 things. One, the next dungeon took a stupid leap in difficulty and it seems like they want me to grind. Two, I really don't like the persona system in this game. The velvet room and Igor still exist, which is awesome, but in order to create personae you need to get tarot cards from monsters you encounter. A lot of god damn tarot cards. How do you do this? Everyone has their own special tactic for doing so. Maya interviews them, Katsuya interrogates them, Ulala tells their fortune, and other such shenanigans. If you make the right choices, you can evoke different emotions from the monsters. Based on this you can get items, tarot cards, or have them form a contract which benefits you when you encounter more of that same type of creature.
Combat: It's a Persona game.
I really wish the shortcomings I talked about earlier weren't so detrimental to my will to play this game. The plot to me seems really interesting. The Joker storyline is something I could see myself getting invested in and all this rumor nonsense seems like it could make for some interesting twists. Not to mention all the crossover stuff with Innocent Sin. The characters from as far as I got, even if the randomly timed and echoy voice acting is kind of silly, seem like they could become well developed later in the game. Unfortunately, I just can't bring myself to play it.