Platform: Nintendo 3DS

North America and Japan were lucky enough to receive Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor back in 2009 for the Nintendo DS, leaving Europe out in the cold with no hope of localization, their only option: importing and owning a US or Japanese DS console.

It’s taken four years but finally Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked has been released in Europe on the Nintendo 3DS, with an added word squeezed in its title to celebrate a swathe of new features that have been added (annoyingly, the USA and Japan also got these ages ago).

The story of takes place in Tokyo, Japan and centers its action on a protagonist (who you get to name) and his friends, Atsuro and Yuzu. You are given three devices that look like 3DS consoles called COMPS by your mysterious cousin, Naoya.

Atsuro is a bit of a whizz kid at anything computer-related and hacks the COMP devices to discover more about them – Upon doing so, the group retrieves anonymous emails that predict future disasters that will happen in Tokyo. The COMPS also have the power to summon demons that the players utilize when the city of Tokyo falls victim to the catastrophic predictions made by the COMP emails, as well as any enemy demon attacks.

The style of the game is a Japanese visual novel, with much of the banter between your group progressing the game’s story, thus opening up new missions.

The game is time sensitive, with actions such as exploring parts of the city advancing in-game time. The progression of in-game time is very important as you can miss important events or aid certain NPC characters, opening up multiple endings that are dependent on your actions. However, this isn’t the primary game mechanic that players will be focusing on.

 photo shin-megami-01_zps13837890.jpgMost of the gameplay is based on the basic combat mechanics of a Strategic Role Playing Game (think Final Fantasy: Tactics,or Tactics: Ogre). As you progress the story, battles will open up and you can bring your characters and demons into battle with you. The top down isometric tile-based SRPG combat is quite simplistic compared to other older SRPG’s, with the exception that encounters with the enemy take place with a traditional turn-based RPG system – the portraits of the enemies you are fighting are static sprites and you choose your attacks or spells from a menu of actions.

Most teams of enemies will consist of a party leader and two other demons supporting, much like your own team. If the enemy leader falls, the whole party is destroyed. However, it is in your interest to take out the other demons first to reap as many experience points as possible.

The main attacks in the game range from regular melee based offences and magic attacks that buff, debuff, heal and or attack enemies with elemental damage. Exploiting enemy weaknesses with magical elements can become a game changer, as you will be rewarded with an extra attack turn– but be careful! Enemies can dish out the same tactic on you. After each battle your team is awarded experience and macca (the game’s currency). You can then level up the main protagonist's abilities and decide what stats he will gain per level.

The in-game combat is largely “by the numbers” and doesn’t really offer any flair until you gain the ability to summon better demons. This is done via a process called "fusing".

 photo shin-megami-02_zps26c1e079.jpgFusing demons is essential to beating the game, as you will need to create a team that is both robust and versatile in combat. Thankfully, fusing two demons in which you've invested a lot of time will also carry their individual abilities over to the new fused demon form. There are a huge amount of demons, so you can imagine the different combinations, each with an outcome that grants you, the player, unique strategic abilities.

Another fantastic system implemented in the game is the Demon Auction House, that allows you to bid on a Demon against 3 computer controlled players. This system, if used wisely, pretty much guarantees a high-grade team later on in the game that becomes essential to the fusing - more abilities and stats means more “uber” demons for the game's final showdown.

Although the gameplay is mostly consistent throughout, the pace of combat can drag when waiting for demon and player animations to load and finish – It doesn’t have the slick panache or speed of say Fire Emblem: Awakening. Another gripe is that the tile based system uses far too strict a control system for the 3DS , and it doesn’t utilize the portable console's circle pad very well, as the pad is locked restrictive D-Pad movements, diagonally movement allowed.

The music is also a bit amateurish at times, production wise. The game may have been produced for a niche market (Visual Kei / Manga / Anime fans), but that's no excuse for the music in combat to sound so dreadful (or as the Japanese would call it, “hetakuso / 下手糞” ). Sadly, it also doesn't sound like the sound quality's been spruced up for the 3DS release.

 photo shin-megami-03_zps31cff20a.jpgThere is also a lack of 3D functionality - a very mild effect appears during CGI rendered cutscenes, demon fusions and the intro splash screen of the game, but the rest of the game seems notably lacking in 3D. Not that it's a game breaker, just odd that they didn't push the 3DS to its full graphics potential.

I can, however, commend one major defining feature of this 3DS European release of the game, and that is its inclusion of a full voice voice cast for the dialogue in the game (excluding combat dialogue). It's obvious a lot of work went into it, but at times there was a very noticable digital hiss, which could be quite annoying.

With multiple endings, hours of gameplay and a fairly challenging combat difficulty, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked is a good purchase for those completely new to the game, but may be a slight disappointment for those already familiar with the original US and Japanese release.