I wasn’t planning on playing the new Shin Megami Tensei mobile game, Liberation Dx2. I hadn’t even really been paying that much attention to it, but I saw a Facebook post this morning that mentioned it was out now, so I figured, why not? It’s free and I’ve enjoyed the few SMT games that I’ve played. So, I went to the Google Play Store and downloaded it.
I’m kind of a newbie when it comes to Shin Megami Tensei. I’ve only played a few hours of SMT IV, and beaten Tokyo Mirage Sessions and Persona 5. This means I’m in a pretty similar boat to the one I was in when I started playing Fire Emblem Heroes. It turns out, this game has a lot in common with that one.
Both Dx2 and FEH are simplified versions of the series that they’re based on with “Gacha” mechanics for obtaining new characters. They both have stories, but it’s not the focus for either. They both have stamina that slows down your progress, although it has yet to be a problem for me in Dx2, and FEH throws so many stamina potions at you that it basically isn’t a problem there either. So yeah, on paper, they are very similar games.
If you’ve never played an SMT game, they are RPGs that deal with demons and often have pretty dark themes. In most of them, you recruit demons by talking to them, and then they join your party. In Dx2, they are your party. Your character doesn’t actually fight, instead sending out his or her demons like they were Pokemon. Sometimes during combat, you’ll see a “talk” icon appear above the head of a demon. By tapping that, you can try to convince it to join you.
The demon will ask you a question, and you answer as you would think the demon would want. It seems pretty random to me, honestly, but there might be more to it. Often, the third question that you get asked is for some sort of gift. You’re given multiple options, including giving them the item, refusing, or tricking them. So far, tricking has worked every time, but I’m sure that won’t last.
When you’re not talking, you’re fighting. SMT’s combat revolves around finding your enemies weaknesses and exploiting them. Sure, that’s most JRPGs, but SMT always rewards you with more than just bonus damage. In the Persona series, hitting an enemy with an attack they’re weak two knocks them down, and once all the enemies are down, you can perform a devastating “All Out Attack”. In Tokyo Mirage Sessions, it activates your Sessions attacks, which gets your other party members involved in the attack. In Dx2, all it really seems to do is give you an extra opportunity to attack.
At the top of the screen, there are icons that show how many attacks you’re able to perform this turn. Each action uses up an icon, but hitting with a weakness only spends half, letting you use another attack. Missing an attack will cost you an extra icon, which can be devastating. The combat isn’t anything two crazy, but there’s enough going on that you’ll want to make a balanced team and think about how you’re going to go about doing things.
Outside of the fighting and the demon talking, there’s sort of a story. Like I said earlier, it’s clearly not the focus. Basically, you’ve been recruited to be a Liberator, who are the good guys. You use an app on your phone called Dx2, or Demon Downloader, to summon demons to fight bad guys who are also doing that. I’ve only played through the first chapter, so I don’t know where the story goes, but the early going deals with people getting kidnapped by bad guy demon downloaders. It’s serviceable at best.
I do really like the characters, however. They’re very expressive and quirky. The one I’ve spent the most time with is Rika, a girl who’s obsessed with airsoft guns. She’s always pulling her gun out and pointing it at the bad guys and acting kind of over the top. I like Rika, she’s fun.
Like most SMT games, you can also spend time with your characters to level up and create new demons. There’s a fusion option, where you merge to demons to create a new one. You can also simply feed one to another to level one up. And of course, there’s an option to randomly summon a demon. All of these cost different types of currency, one of which you can buy with real money. One thing to note, after playing through the entirety of the first chapter, I only had enough of the summoning currency to try it once. This is a much slower rate of earning the premium currency than Fire Emblem Heroes, but maybe that’ll get better the more I play?
So far, I’m really enjoying Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2. It’s got a good look, the gameplay is simple but engaging, and it’s free. We’ll see whether or not it holds my attention long term, but, if you’re looking for a new game to play on your phone, this seems like a good bet.