**Updated 8/10/2018: see below
Is Dx2 a True Shin Megami Tensei Experience?
That remains to be seen. Even so…finally an SMT on our Android and Apple little handheld wizard devices, and no it’s not a Devil Survivor port. For so many years we’ve been playing Tensei on the first Nintendo Entertainment System, Playstation 2, and most recently on 3DS with SMT IV: Apocalypse. My favorite Tensei is SMT:III:Nocturne on the PS2. It was tough, but not as annoying as other SMT offshoots like Digital Devil Saga. Ever fight the Demi-Fiend in DDS? That’s how you learn to truly hate life.
While I had played Strange Journey and Devil Survivor on the original DS, I wasn’t sure there could be a mobile phone port worthy of the series. Then, many years alter, in June of 2018 a ray of hope entered my tragic and also amazing life. Before I could get truly excited, I had to remember that Sega had purchased Atlus years ago and this was to be Sega’s first attempt at developing a Tensei title. Most certainly sketchy. I had all the trust in the world due to my most recent adventures in Atlus’ domain with its amazing and personality-laden Persona 5. I loved that game, from the first minute to the last. Could SMT Liberation Dx2 even possibly compare, or is it just some Gacha game?
Is Shin Megami Tensei: Liberation Dx2 the Next Generation?
Amazingly, we do find ourselves in the next generation. No longer is a game simply its base price tag. A game may cost you $60 up-front, as it has been for over a decade, but that is not the last they will likely see of your credit card numbers. Out there, you’ll find many a “credit card hero” shamelessly swiping their digits to earn boons within their game of choice. There’s a mobile RPG named Guild of Heroes that my wife plays pretty religiously. She doesn’t spend any money on it, yet it’s not for lack of trying on the game’s part. Logging in, logging out, moving from one zone to the next. The game always, always, always has to remind her that she could be progressing faster if she paid more. Psychologically, they pit you against other players in a faux-friend-rivals type setup. Your friends gain X power levels and then you feel compelled to reach their pace, even if it costs you your soul. Guild of Heroes wants you to know this simple fact: “If you swipe $50 on your credit card with us, you’ll achieve more in that decision that you would playing normally for six months.”
Is Dx2 Just a Bunch of Lotteries and Loot Boxes?
There are loot boxes, to be sure. The summoning portal uses gems to summon a random demon from three-star to five-star. There are also lotteries, but rather the kind where there is no entrance fee and most players are winners. I looked at the prices of gems and other reagents, and honestly with maybe four hours of in-game effort, you could easily eclipse even a payment of $30. What you get for your money is trivial in comparison, since what you can do in-game is so plentiful. Sega hands you riches honestly. Just by showing up, or by playing the game. Learning its facets. I get so many free gifts that I lose track. That’s a good problem to have. Also….wait for it….
You do not need to spend a penny on this game. For any reason.
Unless you want the highest of the highest summons. There are talks of those becoming attainable for all, however. In the normal course of play, you will gain demons at an exponentially high rate, macca, magnetite, aether, rubies, sapphires and all the other fifty-million currencies there are going on in Dx2. In many ways, Sega quite literally showers you with items, bonus items, gems, and everything you’d need to craft absurdly strong demons. Everything is right there, at your fingertips. You just have to open your grimy little hand and take it. I prefer the wait-and-see method to lay eyes upon the ultimate prizes of the best six-star summons. For the meantime, I’ll continue along with my five-star Thor and four-star Prometheus. I can handle you, no problem.
On the topic of micro transactions, in an interview with Destructoid, Yamada Riichiro had a few comments to make on their monetization methods.
Destructoid: What type of free-to-play elements or microtransactions can players expect to come across and did you look to other games on how to implement them?
Mr. Riichiro: As it’s a F2P there are, of course, monetization elements. However, regarding the in-app purchases, we see them as just time shortening elements. Although this RPG title was developed in Japan, we are not using the usual format of F2P Japanese titles.
Is Dx2 a Gacha Game?
If you’d like it to be. So what we have here are elements of console-type RPG made for mobile with elements of the ever-pervasive Gacha genre of micro transactions. As Mr. Riichiro would say, it’s a time-shortening feature. You can and may use real-world money to bet your luck to find your masterpiece demons. In a separate article, the developer mentioned that nearly everything in the entire game; all the demons, all the brands and unlocks would be available to someone who has not paid anything at all. Only the highest of the highest level summons require any level of monetary commitment.
While the game itself is in its first month, it’s important for us to watch closely to see if Sega is planning to ditch their current strategy. For now, it really does work. I can play the entire game, for free and never even have to face that annoying, inner temptation to shovel my hard-earned dollars toward another online product. I’m proud to say that Shin Megami Tensei: Liberation Dx2 comes out with a resounding “huzzah” from me. It’s equal parts fun and time consuming, while also adding in challenges and bonus events to keep my hooked for months to come. Happy hunting, everyone!
** After another solid few weeks of grinding through Atlus’ newest Shin Megami Tensei, I am happy to report that it is still Gacha-free. Microtransations are still entirely unnecessary. Impractical too. So much can be achieved in this game just by playing it. You’ll have a team of base 4-stars upgraded to 5-stars without much effort. You’ll be working your way through Brands of Sin to equip and enhance your demons, as well as Strange Signal to awaken them. You’ll have evolved your lowly 3-stars into 5-stars within weeks of playing it.
All of that without having to spend a dime.
I’ve spent dozens of hours playing PvP and surfing through the Aura Gate. My current rank this week is 1648 with a team of Teal Ose, Orange Prometheus, Purple Odin, and finally Teal Anubis. I was, at one point this week, ranked 337 in America. That’s not too bad for someone who isn’t paying to get ahead.
From what I have read on various forums, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll get anything good, even if you were to invest $500. There’s just no way of knowing what kind of demon you’ll pull in when you decide to try the lottery. In this way, regular players like myself and credit card heroes are on nearly even footing.
I have chances to try to lottery, as the premium currencies present themselves through normal gameplay, but my chance of getting a 5-star badass like Susano-o is the same as theirs. Plus, it’s more rewarding to get those high-level baddies through your own power. It’s been a fun ride so far and I look forward to where the developers lead this great addition to the SMT universe.