UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Video Game Connisseur

The PS2 isn’t dead yet. Far from it. In fact, now is the perfect time to go back and find used copies of all the games you heard about and wanted to play but never had the money for. Now that Next Gen is firmly in place and all major game companies have moved over to the new systems, game stores are going to want to get rid of all their games for older systems, particularly used ones, making this the best time to get cheap games in good (not new, but good) condition that you probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

On a recent visit from California, my friend Sam was gushing (that is a term I rarely use in describing someone’s excitement yet I feel it fits in this case) about Atlus’s Shin Megami Tensei series. I was familiar with the spin off series of these games, The Persona series, but knew nothing about these games beyond the name. On a visit to a local Gamestop (just go to one sometime and stare at the used games, go ahead, stare at ’em…one will eventually jump out at you) we found a copy of Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga. Sam had played it and he told me to grab it. He was right.

RPGs, particularly those from Japan, tend to blend a mix of Judeo-Christian, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, and Buddhist mythology into the story elements. Digital Devil Saga is heavily based on Hindu elements with Indian and Japanese Buddhism plus a little bit of everything else. This is a pleasant departure from the norm. The plot of the game is that the world consists of an area known as the Junkyard. The Junkyard is ruled by six tribes engaged in constant warfare with a great tower called the Karma Temple, which is in the middle of it all acting as the only place where combat is forbidden. The tribes exist under the rule that when a tribe kills another tribe’s leader, the victorious tribe absorbs that tribe, and the last remaining tribe will ascend to Nirvana. The inhabitants of the Junkyard lack understanding of simple concepts such as emotion and lead a militaristic lifestyle. The game begins with two tribes fighting when a mysterious pod in the middle of the battlefield bursts, surrounding the field in a light that turns everyone into demons and a strange girl is found where the pod was. After this, everyone in the Junkyard gains the ability to turn into a demon but must devour their opponents in order to maintain control of themselves. You play as Serph, the leader of the Embryon, the smallest tribe, and his lieutenants who are in possession of the mysterious girl, named Sera. You decide to conquer the other tribes and ascend to Nirvana while trying to learn the truth about the world.

One of the interesting parts of the game is gaining new abilities. First you select a “Mantra” for a character. The Mantra decides which skills they will gain. Then as you defeat enemies you gain Atma points by eating them. Either everyone gets a percentage or if you use a type of ability called a Hunt ability a single character will eat them and gain all the Atma points from that monster if they deal the fatal blow.

Digital Devil Saga is a great game but I have one issue with it. The game was designed in two parts, making it seem to end abruptly and requiring you to play the sequel to get the full story. Other than that I have no problems with it; you can customize the characters and the pacing of the story keeps you from getting disinterested or forgetting what your doing. Although, if you aren’t prepared for some of the bosses, they punish you mercilessly. But so does any other game. See you again next week, same VGC time, same VGC place.