What I'm Playing - No. 121
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Spoiler warning for Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked. There are late game and extra content spoilers, beware of those!
The Chrono Trigger section is spoiler-free!
Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked (3DS)
I finished the 8th Day content, officially finishing my Devil Survivor Overclocked playthrough! There was some pretty cool stuff here including, stronger demons to fight and fuse.
Overall, the extra content wasn’t very difficult until the final boss. There were some enemy demons that could wipe out one of my teams easily, but revival and healing spells were plentiful among my leaders and demons, so it was easy enough to recover when that happened. The final boss gave me some trouble though! The final boss of the 8th day is Metatron, a recurring character in the Shin Megami Tensei series. My initial attempts to defeat him went very poorly. He had a weakness to ice and electricity, so my strategy was to use the player character’s maxed out magic stat to destroy him. That didn’t go so well though, because after each battle he auto-recovers HP, and with the amount he healed it was like I hadn’t even scratched him. I decided to grind a bit and come back, but even after a few hours of grinding, my magic-focused strategy wasn’t getting anywhere. At that point, I decided to try a strategy I’d used on early bosses, and threw Kaido, a strength-focused character, at Metatron, equipping him with the Pierce passive to overcome the physical resistance, and Deathbound to deal multiple hits in a single attack. That strategy absolutely destroyed Metatron. I don’t know why I hadn’t tried that on him sooner, Pierce and Deathbound is a super useful combination in this game.
Story-wise, the 8th Day content was simple, but provided some nice closure to the story. After becoming the demon overlord at the end of the base game’s story, the main character hasn’t yet fully awakened to his power. You’re given the choice of whether to kill all those who stand in your way, human and demon alike, or to avoid killing humans, even in self-defense. I chose to spare the humans, and while initially they were hostile to the demon overlord and his team, when it became apparent that we meant them no harm, they turned to our side. After that, you gain a bunch of new teammates, including characters you’ve seen (and even fought) earlier in the story, as well as the teammates I’d previously had who had left the group. Narratively, it was a nice reunion, though I didn’t end up using most of those new (or returning) party members.
That wraps up Devil Survivor Overclocked. There’s a sequel that received similar treatment, originally releasing on DS before receiving an enhanced 3DS version, but it sounds like the consensus is that the first game has the better characters and story. I still might give the sequel a try in the future if I’m craving more Shin Megami Tensei SRPG action, because Devil Survivor was a lot of fun! It was frustrating at times, sure, but now that I’ve learned the ins and outs of it and some good strategies for bosses, a repeat playthrough would probably be even more fun. The game definitely has re-playability too, featuring several different endings, as well as an in-game achievement system, and New Game+ rewards based on points you’ve gotten from completing those achievements. My final playtime was 42:51 for this one.
Chrono Trigger (DS)
This game probably doesn’t need any introduction, but here’s a brief one anyway. Originally released on the SNES in 1995, the development team included something of a JRPG super group: Hironobu Sakaguchi, creator of the Final Fantasy series, Yuji Horii, creator of the Dragon Quest series, and Akira Toriyama, character designer of the Dragon Quest series and author of the Dragon Ball manga series. With all these huge names on staff, you’d expect Chrono Trigger to be great, and it is! It did well commercially and critically at launch, and you probably won’t have to look that hard among RPG fans to find someone whose favorite game is Chrono Trigger. I never played this game growing up though, and somehow never played through it as an adult yet either. I started at least one playthrough of it in the past, but gave up on it for some reason (I really can’t remember why). I’m finally starting a playthrough of the Nintendo DS version of it now, and this time I will stick with it to the end!
Like many RPGs of the era, you get to name all the characters in your party. The default name for the hero is Chrono, which I’ll refer to him as hereafter, but I named him “Worm” in my game as is tradition. The setup of the story is pretty simple. While attending a festival, Chrono meets a girl named Marle. After hanging out with her a bit, they check out the invention of Chrono’s friend, Lucca. It’s a teleporter, and a successful demonstration in which Chrono is teleported across the room leads Marle to insist on being the next test subject. Unforeseen by Lucca, the teleporter reacts to the amulet Marle is wearing, opening a time rift that pulls her in, without her amulet. Chrono leaps in after her, with Lucca promising to follow after the them once she figures out what went wrong, and the main gameplay loop begins!
The main gameplay loop will be familiar to anyone who has played a 16-bit era JRPG before. You explore, fight monsters, level up, buy equipment, and figure out where you need to go to advance the story. It’s all executed really well in Chrono Trigger though, with a lot of nice features that were ahead of its time. There aren’t really random encounters for one thing - most of the time you can see enemies in the overworld, and you can avoid battle by giving them a wide berth. There’s also no transition to a “battle screen” or anything like that. Battles take place right in the same areas you’re exploring.
The battles themselves use an Active Time Battle system seen in several Final Fantasy titles. The only game I can think of that I’ve played prior to this with an ATB system is Final Fantasy IX. It’s not my favorite kind of battle system, I’d sooner take a strictly turn-based system, and I think Chrono Trigger does have a setting for that but it seems like the ATB system is the way it’s meant to be played so I’ve stuck with it. Despite my apprehension, I’ve really enjoyed the ATB battles. You definitely can’t sleep on the job, the active element of battle means you sometimes have to act quickly to heal and survive, especially during boss battles. Another cool element of battles is that enemies move around a bit between actions, and certain abilities can hit multiple enemies if they’re near each other, so timing your attacks to hit multiple enemies adds another layer to battles.
The story is largely centered around time travel, and reminded me of Back to the Future initially. At least the first chapter shared a similar plot beat with the first Back to the Future film. It has (so far) avoided many of the perplexing questions of time travel, and maintains a simple plot. On a scale of complexity where Back to the Future is the low end and Primer is the high end, it’s definitely on the Back to the Future side. Simple, but very enjoyable!
I think I’m somewhere under halfway through the game, judging by what HowLongToBeat.com says. There are apparently 12 different endings, so I’m really curious if the story introduces a lot more time travel complexity or something later on. Either way, it’s been really fun so far, I’m glad I’m finally playing through this game!