Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Devil Survivor 2's dramatic irony and stuff

After much strategizing and frustration I finally beat Devil Survivor 2 (DS2), the tactical JRPG for the DS. At first I was really impressed with the unrelenting difficulty that forced me to actually look at my battle and demon possibilities. I got to know the system better, but by the end I just wanted to be done. I was hoping to have some kind of awesome idea for an article while I played the game, and I took notes. However, no coherent theme emerged. So I'm writing you my thoughts on: 1) DS2's self-consciousness as J-horror, 2) DS2's reflection of Japanese ideals in endings and 3) the coolest in-game explanation for a new game+ I've ever seen (the last two parts will have spoilers).
w-why are all these ladies so busty
DS2 is trying really hard to think about how teenagers would TRULY react in a disaster situation. There are fights about who should get supplies. You friends frequently compare their situation to that of a horror movie: "If this was a monster movie it'd be a dumb cliche to go for landmarks like that" (Joe). Keita, speaking of communist idealism, says, "'comerade,' what fantasy are you living in?" Well Keita, this fantasy I'm living in is one where we're real people and completely aware of the absurdity of our situation as teenagers saving the world by summoning demons through our cell phones (fun side note: instead of killing dissenters, you take away their cell phones. It's basically the same!)!

I haven't played through all the endings, but one of the "happy" endings is when you join neither of your warring extremist friends and opt for a compromise position (trying to keep things the way they were). Daichi's philosophy is, "But even peons have a right to choose! Not to be bossed around like pawns on a chessboard!" The irony, of course, is that Daichi is a pawn on the player's chessboard, and he really has no say in what his battle actions are (besides his inherent stats).

 You have the option to defeat "the world's administrator" too. I'm interested in how so many Japanese games see the person in charge as malicious... well, malicious is too harsh. Many Japanese games have a deity that is kind of apathetic about humans, but annoyed that they are trying to have a say in things.

DS2 goes out of its way to make up some lore to explain save games and new game+s. It sees demons and the characters as part of an akashic record (yeah I had to look it up too, but I was pleased that it referred to a real thing). An akashic record is this idea that everything is data that can be deleted or edited (that is how the game explained it). Looking at the wikipedia page, everything being recorded is also a big part of it. What's weird to me is that with keyloggers and cloud storage etc. our digital lives can be basically an Akashic record (am I misunderstanding the concept?). It's like... technology can make this religious idea a reality. STRANGE THINGS.

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