Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga is compleat. Well, sort of.
You see, DDS is a duology – the second game, which was released only a few months later, isn’t a sequel so much as it is a continuation of the same game. I failed to mention this during my previous posts.
As a result, I’m going to hold off making a definitive pronouncement until I get around to finishing DDS2. This may take a while, as I’ve been convinced to revisit Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, a game which I shelved in frustration years ago. You see, a lot of the gameplay mechanics I was raving about in DDS made their first appearance in Nocturne (and even a lot of the art assets from the former are used in the latter), so I’m thinking that I just needed to get used to it.
But back to DDS. I complained in my Phantom Pain post about the tendency of pop cultural franchises to become these pointlessly serialized sagas that go on for longer than they should. But I’m not opposed to the practice in principle; when done well, it can have a tremendous cumulative effect. It’s just that it’s harder to execute a great trilogy (or whatever) than it is to do a single, standalone story.
DDS might pull it off; by the time the credits rolled, I wasn’t thinking, “man they really should have wrapped things up here,” but rather, “thank goodness there’s still more to come.” It’s got a lot of story in it, and has done a great job of building it up. It remains one of the leanest, most expertly paced RPGs I’ve played in a while, lacking any moments where it felt like they were there to help stretch things out into two games.
But that’s the thing DDS1 is almost entirely build-up, which puts a lot of pressure on DDS2. If it drops the ball on providing a satisfying conclusion, then it also retroactively poisons the previous entry. It’s ambitious and cocky, but so far they’ve convinced me that they’re capable of pulling it off.