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Lotus Aura
Aug 16, 2009

KNEEL BEFORE THE WICKED KING!


Requisite no spoilers request, thanks. That's what the SMT megathread is for!


Introduction ~ Danger vers (US) / Introduction ~ Pray vers (EU/JP)

Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner is a pretty cool duology for the PS2, that was released in 2004/5 to the point where both games were released only around 5-6 months apart from each other. No matter how you slice it, it's pretty clearly one game that was split into two in the vein of things like Golden Sun and White Knight Chronicles.

Unlike those, however, this one isn't complete unmitigated dogshit. Admittedly, I may not be the most impartial person (see below) but hey. It has nice music, nicer design ideas even if I do dislike some of the later dungeons conceptually.

It uses Hindu mythology above all others for its main plotline. And I don't just mean the usual Shiva or Vishnu or what have you. This convention doesn't extend to everything, though; the main characters have quite possibly the laziest naming scheme imaginable (you'll see). Even more plot relevant stuff sometimes dips its toes into other mythological lines for a break or (in at least one memorable instance) for what I can only hope is a terrible, terrible gag.

Naturally, this will cover both games because it'd be weird and pointless to stop halfway through. And even though NG+ (which is a thing; it's mandatory for something... very special too!) lets you do silly things right out of the gate, that's not as fun to me so I won't be doing that. At least not at first. Be starting fresh, and then working up to the wackier antics.

Oh, and in 2011, a book called Quantum Devil Saga was released. I haven't read it, but there is an English translation available, albeit only for Avatar Tuner Vol. 1 (of 5), that was just released in July this year. Maybe it's good, but who knows. It was written by Yu Godai who was the original scenario writer for the games, but she had to quit for "health reasons" (quote marks because that's just a catch-all excuse that seems to be used every time someone quits suddenly). It's not quite a 1-to-1 adaptation of the games, but, again, I haven't read it.

At times, you might notice some stuff next to links. Should be obvious, but just to be safe:

These are videos. Where possible, you should definitely just watch these.
These are music tracks. Using Integral since it has both DDS1 and 2's stuff on it, and more from each game than their separate ones too. Hurray!



Muladhara
Svadhisthana
Shanti
Manipura
Anahata (Part One)
Anahata (Part Two)
Manipura ~ The Second Movement
Co-Ordinate 136 (Part One)
Co-Ordinate 136 (Part Two)
Co-Ordinate 136 (Part Thr-Hee)
Deserted Ship
Samsara Tunnels
Svadhisthana ~ The Second Movement
Ajna
Samsara Tunnels ~ The Second Movement
Sahasrara
The Si Xiang
Yellow Dragon and Silver Wings
The End of the Junkyard
New Game+ ~ The Demi-Fiend



Random Encounters plague the thread! (by blankd)



Nirvana?
Occupied Sector
Underground City
Underwater Cable
Internment Facility (Part One)
Internment Facility (Part Two)
Karma Society Tower (Part One)
Karma Society Tower (Part Two)
Karma Society Tower (Part Three)
The EGG Facility (Part One)
The EGG Facility (Part Two)
The Power Plant (Part One)
The Power Plant (Part Two)
The Corrupt EGG Installation
Five Years Before
Yahweh's Angels
Airport (Part One)
Airport (Part Two)
The Sun
The Third and Fourth Layers
The Fifth and Sixth Layers
Conquest, Destruction, Preservation and War
Full-Fiend Satan
Enlightenment

Lotus Aura fucked around with this message at 20:31 on Jun 13, 2015

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Lotus Aura
Aug 16, 2009

KNEEL BEFORE THE WICKED KING!


Mantras are an important aspect of these games. It's basically just a giant grid what costs money to activate stuff on. It's also how you get skills. There's a grid for each person, and their names are written in the bottom corner but it might be a mite hard to read. So their portraits are also on the grid for easier visual reference.

DDS1 Mantra

The top section is Physical skills, the middle bit is Magical skills and the bottom bit is also magical skills but it mostly focuses on buffs and debuffs along with instant death stuff and there's some very special stuff here and there. The further to the right it is, the more money it costs, the more advanced it is and there's some incredibly silly poo poo at the far end. Grey is mastered, blue is available but not obtained yet and yellow is currently active.











DDS2 Mantra

There's no shorthand and easy way to tell what mantra contains what this time around, unfortunately. It just circles out from the center; mostly the top and top-right are physicals and hunts, whereas everything else is a spell of some kind. As it gets further out, it becomes clearer (force to the right, fire to the bottom etc.) but its not a perfect thing by any means.











Lotus Aura fucked around with this message at 16:57 on Mar 21, 2015

Lotus Aura
Aug 16, 2009

KNEEL BEFORE THE WICKED KING!


Welcome to the Junkyard
As mentioned before, and will be the case in basically every instance, it is much, much easier to just watch this if you can.



But if not, then you should probably know that the first 30 seconds or so have this weird trippy background.



They also have a disembodied voice talking. We have no context for this, nor does it make a lick of sense right now.



Sorry, make that two disembodied voices. Thankfully it is easy to distinguish between the two.


That isn't true.
You, like me, need only what was lost.
Stop it.
I will release the uncontrollable rage that lurks inside them...



No!!



...And with that, we're dropped into the midst of a rainy, ruined city with a giant tower lurking in the distance.



Much more importantly, we have our main characters all assembled right here. There's actually five of them, but the ones on the far left and right might be harder to spot.

Also, there's that weird oval thing kind of in the distance. That's pretty important.





That eyepiece she was looking through, wasn't the scope on her rifle or anything. It was an actual small device of sorts and she hands it off to our grey haired friend here.



He looks through it too, and we get a pretty cool first-person view of what it displays.



Namely we get to survey an entire set of dudes, including this Harley fella.



So we know that we can get some vague information from this thing. What about that strange egg-like thing with tentacles?



...Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Weird.



Strange as that is, there's still a job to do. Thankfully, it seems like our grey haired friend there is a commander of sorts. With a mere wave of his hand, the other three who were standing by...


Tribal War



Get their assorted weapons ready. For his red-haired buddy that means an assault rifle.



Purple dredlocks has a submachine gun.



And, uh, Steve Blum has... another assault rifle.

Yes, everyone has a gun or ranged weapon of some kind.




Remember that.

Amanda Winn-Lee's little offhand comment there seems cold as all hell, but it does have meaning. Namely if the leader falls, you just lose.



And with that, we begin the Steel Ball Run.

drat uh wrong thing wai-



Y'know, to say he has four unique modeled characters heading his way right now, Harley sure is looking rather smug about something.



Perhaps he already knows that even after their leader gets into position he will be distracted by...



A kitty with a drat weird bell on its collar.



Not much of a distraction, but it does last long enough for this guy to get some shots off.



Right before he gets headshotted by our no-scoping sniper.



Thankfully, the grey-haired leader gets away just in time because those crossbow bolts explode.

Sure, why not.



Oh, and while everyone else has either automatic weapons or a sniper rifle? He just has a handgun (now; he had an assault rifle but threw it away by mistake just before this). Makes sense, since he's the guy in charge so he probably doesn't come out to the battlefield proper often or something.

Also he only needs it anyway. Can shoot those bolts out of the air like it's nothing.



A barrage like this might present more of a problem, though. But that's what the backup is for.



Here's your requisite reminder that all of this is over that betentacled egg thing. Complete with a requisite explosion.


Silence



Amazingly enough, it hasn't even been damaged by that.



Remove the unidentified object at coordinates 2314 5873.





Remove the unidentified object at coordinates 2314 5873.



Huh, it seems neither side knows what this thing is. And both think the other is to blame for it being there.



And while they're trying to figure out what that could possibly mean, this thing starts glowing green.



Then it gets hit by lightning. Because of course it does.

That's not an accident though...



It sure seems like it should be, considering that is what makes the egg-thing finally explode.



That releases these weird beams of light that run through everyone. Harley and the rest of the Vanguards...



Along with Mr. Grey hair and the rest of his group...



This, in turn, leads to Bad Things happening.



Like, dudes turning black and having these weird purple lines all of over them.



Schizophrenic voices in their head suggesting cannabalism.





And that Harley guy... being replaced by some zebra... looking... thing that sliced a guy in two.



It's at this point, you may have noticed our conspicuously silent grey-haired protagonist finally starts yelling out in pain.



Or at least Yuri Lowenthal's closest attempt to it.

This view is through that eyeglass lense thing by the way.



At some point, it cuts away from that and shows... this pseudo-silhouette of that tall thing with a blade coming out of his hand. In motion, it looks like he's eating something. There's even some sound-effects of chewing and the like.



Strange that it shows a blue sky here, ain't it? Not jarring in the least. Not to mention that the place we were just at sure as hell doesn't have a blue sky.



Oh well, seems we passed out during all that and are awake now.



Eh, probably just imagining things. Seems like everyone else passed out too.


*Coughs* My chest is on fire.



...Huh, that is definitely a new tattoo. And it glows. I'm sure that doesn't mean anything.

Leader.



So, there's suddenly a giant glowing crater where the giant glowing egg thing was. If I know anything about superhero movies that's going to be radiation and will give us super powers.

???



But it does seem like there must be something else in there...



Oh, it's just a naked girl.

...Wait, hang on. What?


...Any thoughts?



I want to know more about her. I am sure you feel the same, Serph.

Hurray, our protagonist finally has his name mentioned.



And if you think him being named "Serph" is lazy (yes, like surf)... oh boy. You ain't seen nothing yet.


Silence



With that, we skip to a short while later and are back at a place called Muladhara. Named after the seventh tantric chakra in Hinduism. Its name means the root of support ("Mula" is Sanskrit for "root" and "Adhara" is the same for "Support") and represents self-sufficiency and ambition along with one's own physical identity and their survival.





Heat is probably the second laziest character name in the entire game (which is a shame, since Crispin Freeman does a pretty great job). Or failing that it's a very, very close race with what I'd consider first place all the same. They might even be tied.

Still sleeping.
She did not have a Tag Ring.



Tag Ring being that giant ring-like thing that we've seen on everyone's hand before now. It's pretty important.

The woman is not our concern. The ramification of the battle are unclear. What are these markings?









Our priority is to clarify the situation.



To the Vanguard's territory?
I will.

Embryon

They may have an answer for us.



The rest will stay and guard the base.
I will go.



I want an explanation.

End

Muladhara



Oh good it's finally over. Now we can wander around Muladhara for a bit, talk with our other party members, learn their names indirectly, see what bits of tutorialising there are...



And find out why Heat thinks the Vanguards would know anything.


He was present when she appeared, so he may know details about this girl.

It's pretty much just speculation though.



Anyway, since everyone has a gun we can choose the ammo they use. We have none yet spare, of course, but since we can't get to a stats page yet this lets us see them anyway.

Serph, being the main character, doesn't really have any inherent speciality. He can do just about anything and it won't matter too much.



Heat, on the other hand, is very blatantly a Strength guy. This won't change, like ever.



Argilla (it's Italian for clay) also seems like a bit of a blank slate, much like Serph. Only difference between the two at first glance is she prioritises Magic and Luck a little more, whereas he prefers Strength and Agility.

We'll go over stats and their various uses later, though. They're mostly self-explanatory but there are some subtleties that are less obvious.

Sadly, Gale (green-haired Steve Blum) and Cielo (dredlocked Dave Wittenberg) are sitting this one out. Despite seeming like they're totally party members, you can't actually sub 'em into the party, unfortunately.



Most of the nameless members of the Embryon just exist to spout basic unimportant exposition or give you dry tutorials. None of which is worth our time; it's all blindingly obvious or not necessary.



That guy out there, for example, was basically just telling us "there are treasure chests." That is what these purple eggy things are.

Lots of egg like objects in this place.



This particular one just has a basic revival item in it. As a nice change, to what most people may be used to by now, even if Serph drops he can totally be revived. That "leader dies, game over" thing does not apply to actual gameplay. At least not for us.



Opposite our free loot, we can find our black haired... kidnapee (I guess?) sleeping. Nothing else though.



Anyway, this door has a golden quincunx on it. This is the weird shorthand symbol for "this room is a shop."



Regular items are mostly uninteresting for now. Dis- items just cure the ailment in their name. Panaceas cure a couple extra. All very simple stuff.



We can also buy bullets from Vendors if we wanted to. Even though these are twice as good as our current bullets, we can only get two right now and we don't need them anyway.



Much like the vendor having a shorthand symbol, we can also find doors with a red lotus on them.



These ones are large terminals. Specifically only ever large terminals. They function, well, like terminals in the rest of the series. Save points and teleport spots. They also have the added bonus of letting you heal too. How nice.

There are smaller ones too, of course. They don't have dedicated rooms. You can't teleport to a smaller one, nor can you restore HP/MP there.



Ah well, let's keep poking around Muladhara a bit more. Argilla and Heat are waiting up ahead, but for now we'll head through that door up on our right.



This one just has a couple rooms beyond it. And a weird blue light... wall?



Yeah, it's a wall. Looks like we'd just be able to walk through but no dice. We'll be back for this later. So what about those other 4 rooms?



Three have items in them. A Soma Drop here (full HP/MP recovery for one person).



Three Chakra Drops (50MP to one person) in a different room and two Dis-Poisons in the third.

The fourth? Empty. How boring.




It is the smallest area, sandwiched between the Vanguards' and Maribel's sectors.

Argilla gives us some minor exposition. Heat, not even that. The only important thing here is that since we control Muladhara, there's no fights here. It's our home base, so of course its nice and safe.

It may be hard to see from here, but that purple light behind that pillar?



It's an item container we can't get to yet. It's easy to see, and you're constantly reminded of it since it's on the way to the exit.



Speaking of which, this guy by the exit proper is a dick. He asks you if you're low on healing supplies. You'd think if you told him "yes" that he'd give you some. Instead, he tells you to go buy some.



This guy, meanwhile, cares about our wellbeing a bit. He just thinks we'll be at a disadvantage since we're going into the Vanguard's territory.


Junk Yard



Well, we will head there shortly. First things first, we're off back to Ground Zero briefly.



...When we do, we get this message. It doesn't mean much though. We just lost a couple HP.



What we're actually here for is to talk to this guy by the crater. He just gives us 5 Rations for free, no questions asked. Nothing else here but these. Nothing else left to do back at Muladhara either.



Let's go see what Harley knows. He'll answer our questions, one way or another.

Lotus Aura fucked around with this message at 13:59 on Aug 25, 2014

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Awwww, yeah. I got a good ways into this, enough to know I was really interested, but the grinding got a bit much for me. Looking forward to seeing where the madness goes and if some of my theories about what's going on are right or not.

Kaboom Dragoon
May 7, 2010

The greatest of feasts



This should be good. DDS1&2 is/are probably my favourite SMT game(s). At the very least, they boast one of my favourite OSTs around. Can't wait to see how folks unfamiliar with the games deal with some of the plot twists and revelations.

David D. Davidson
Nov 17, 2012

Orca lady?

Glad to see you got this LP going.

Also one little error you made: Serph did have an assault rife in that cutscene, he just lost it after he dived out of cover. You can see it in your screenshots.

GimmickMan
Dec 27, 2011



DDS are one of the most overlooked and underrated titles in a franchise that is overlooked and underrated by default. I caught pretty much none of the symbolism in my first run through both of them so I am eagerly looking forward to this second look at the game.

DoubleNegative
Jan 27, 2010

The most virtuous child in the entire world.

I saw advertisements for this game in whatever game magazine it was that I had a subscription to at the time. It looked really interesting, though I never did get around to buying it. Come to think of it, I don't think I ever saw a copy for sale locally.

I'll definitely be following this with great interest!

Ubiquitous_
Nov 20, 2013

by Reene


The soundtrack to these games (and, of course, Nocturne before it) are so good. I wish Meguro had stuck with this musical approach after these games. I also think the Junkyard is a cool overworld aesthetically. It's just so drat dismal and depressing.

Ubiquitous_ fucked around with this message at 08:29 on Aug 25, 2014

Meinberg
Oct 9, 2011


On the one hand, shooting crossbow bolts out of the air with a handgun is pretty silly. On the other hand, arrows shooting arrows from the sky is a common element in the battle scenes in the Sanskrit epics. I'm definitely looking forward to following along with this.

Kaboom Dragoon
May 7, 2010

The greatest of feasts



The game's actually very clever with its representations of Buddhist mythology if you know what to look for. The Megaten series has always been good about its lore, but this game is definitely a step above.

MonotoneMorgan
Nov 20, 2013

The saddest day in Octavian's life was the day he was asked to shave his mustache.


Looking forward to seeing this LP, as I loved the SMT and Persona games but could never get my hands on a copy of DDS.

manyleeks
Apr 22, 2010

Just another day at the office

I actually picked up a copy of DDS1 and played it to completion after Luisfe's LP way back in the day. I never did manage to lay hands on a (PAL, English) copy of DDS2, though.

The aesthetic of the game is both subtle and really well done. There's a lot of little things you don't really notice until they're pointed out, which is just amplified by the overall grey and dreary setting.

theshim
May 1, 2012

You think you can defeat ME, Ephraimcopter?!?

You couldn't even beat Assassincopter!!!


Played a chunk of DDS but never finished it; I'll be following with interest!

ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007






I picked these up a few years back, but lost heart when I saw what was involved in finishing them without skipping absolutely everything optional. I'm looking forward to this.

Lord Ephraim
Feb 22, 2008

That's one way to get ahead in life, but nothing beats an axe to the face.

I wanted to finish these games, but I can only handle so many backattack -> multitarget instant death spells -> 2 hours of progress lost so many times before rage quiting. That's SMT for you.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


If you've been wanting to play DDS but haven't had any luck finding it, karma has in fact smiled upon you (assuming you have a PS3). For like ten bucks each you can get DDS and DDS2 over PSN, which is a super sweet deal because these games own.

Also, the combined soundtrack for them (DDS Integral as noted by Dragonatrix) is so goddamn great, if you ever find yourself in a situation to purchase it do because it's four discs of absolutely amazing music.

Lord Ephraim posted:

I wanted to finish these games, but I can only handle so many backattack -> multitarget instant death spells -> 2 hours of progress lost so many times before rage quiting. That's SMT for you.

I don't know, DDS is probably the most generous game in the entire series on that front. If you know enemies are going to be assholes and spam mamudo/mahama you can punish that incredibly strongly. And if you go two hours without saving in an SMT game, you did bring that on yourself a bit.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 15:50 on Aug 25, 2014

RelentlessImp
Mar 14, 2011


Oh man, I loved these games. They can be a bit confusing and weird at times, but what Megaten game isn't? Great characters and story overall, one of Atlus's best representations of their weird poo poo. Looking forward to see how the thread reacts to the various what-the-christs.

asymmetrical
Jan 29, 2009

the absence or violation of symmetry


Does this game stand alone or do I need to know about any other Megaten games to keep up?

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


asymmetrical posted:

Does this game stand alone or do I need to know about any other Megaten games to keep up?

Totally standalone, excepting the nearly impossible bonus boss which is a character from a previous game.

Cake Attack
Mar 26, 2010



I can't get into PS2 era megaten games because the dungeon design is plain unfun + random encounters, so I'm looking forward to this.

Sleep of Bronze
Feb 9, 2013

If I could only somewhere find Aias, master of the warcry, then we could go forth and again ignite our battle-lust, even in the face of the gods themselves.

Heard a little about this one and wanted to see it but I think the old LP had a load of its parts missing or something, so looking forward to being in on this!

BrightWing
Apr 27, 2012

Yes, he is quite mad.


Aww yeah, DDS is great. Looking forward to this one.

Lotus Aura
Aug 16, 2009

KNEEL BEFORE THE WICKED KING!


Probably won't be updating in the future quite as often as this, but might as well get to the dungeon crawling stuff sooner rather than later.

Lotus Aura
Aug 16, 2009

KNEEL BEFORE THE WICKED KING!


Swadhisthana's Front Door



Swadhisthana's the main base for the Vanguards. Named after the second primary tantric chakra, its name translates into the seat of the vital force ("Sva" being "vital force" and "Adishthana" being "seat"). Primarily deals with emotional identity, creativity, self-gratification and... procreation and personal relationships. Sure, why not.

Assignmen



There are no guards.
That works. Let us go.

End

Svadhisthana

Pretty light on the cutscenes in this place, thankfully. Gives us more time to stretch our legs.



Right behind our starting point, there's a Vendor if we need supplies. It's located pretty much next to the exit too, so coming back here to buy stuff if need be is the best idea bizarrely. Even Muladhara's vendor is pretty out of the way in comparison.



Of course, we don't need to buy anything for the moment. There's more than enough available for free here. This Soma Drop hiding off-camera being the first of many lying around for our use.



Nothing else out here, so let's go in and see what the Vanguards are up to.



So, the Vanguard's Base proper is our first actual dungeon.



Right by the entrance is a Large Karma Terminal for if we want to warp out and get more supplies or something. It's quite unnecessary, honestly.



During this first section, there's no battles or anything. We're quite alone here. It's a mostly linear path, but with some treasures a little out of the way.



After a while, we come to a very suspicious looking wall and a tall thing with a lever sticking out of it. We'll ignore both of these for the moment and head through that door to the south.



It leads to a minor split in the path. The door at the back just has an item pot with 3 Rations in it. Upstairs, however...



...Is another one of these walls. We'll be back for this one later, too.



But also upstairs is this harder to get to set of Chakra Drops. If we dropped the wall, we'd be unable to get here.



Now we can double back, and flip this switch.



This causes the wall to lower. We can reraise it by flipping the switch again, but there's never a reason to do that unless you forget to get the Chakra Drops.



Speaking of which, now that we can get into the next room, we can find another set of 3 on a raised platform.



Tucked away sneakily underneath that very same platform is a Revival Bead too.



Now that we've looted everything that's free and easy, we can head on the linear path some more and see what's in here.


Atma Avatars ~ Asura Varuna, Asura Agni, Asura Prithivi



Atma



Oh, right. Harely is freaking the gently caress out here. Dude's practically having a panic attack. He is that scared of us.

Harley... What are you... saying?



Well, this is different. Pretty sure we haven't seen anything quite like... that before.

You all... turned into monsters...



That light... That weird light shot right through us... and then everyone... everyone started freaking the hell out!
Don't.



Everyone started attacking each other...





Our tattoo-like symbols start to glow now, awakening us to their true power...



But so does Harley's. Hmm...


Stop. Be quiet.
God, help me!!





Once again, Argilla proves to be a drat good shot by headshotting dudes like its nothing.



Meanwhile, Heat's noticed that his thing is giving him these scanlines now and is loving this poo poo.



But he's not the only one affected by this. Even dead men can have their stuff work, apparently.



Meanwhile, Harley is getting the gently caress outta here.


I... couldn't have. No... Not me... I didn't... do that.





...This might be a new thing, but they're certainly getting their mileage out of it. Twice in one cutscene?



Unfortunately, the dead guys have picked themselves up and finished... transforming?



Well, they're not the only ones who can do that.





Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe that it is morphin' time!





Heat becomes Agni, the perpetually young God of Fire and messenger between humans and all the other Gods. Usually these messages involve sacrifices, of course.



Argilla is Prithvi Mata. The Mother Earth. Also referred to as Dhrithri, or she which holds everything. Mostly associated in tandem with the god of the skies (we'll get to him in due time of course), and having once turned into a cow and been milked by Vishnu.

hinduism can get weird sometimes man



And... Serph, being the main character, gets the completely unfair Varuna. Supreme lord of all the cosmos, god who resides over all the other gods, deity of the night and everything relating to water and the oceans. Even presiding as a God of the Dead by dealing with those who drowned.

Among many, many, many, many other things. Varuna is kind of A Big Deal.



But, hey, more important for this is that we've transformed too. Let's kick some rear end!


Battle: Demon Ghoul x2

Hunting



So, first of many combat tutorials in Svadhisthana. This one just teaches us about the press turn system. And also never calls it that. But it is.

Long and short of it is, we get 3 turns to do things. 1 per character. We can gain and lose them by doing various things. Hitting a weakness gives us a fourth turn. Passing a turn technically also gives us a fourth. Missing our attacks, hitting an enemy with something they're immune to, drain or reflect causes us to lose turns. We cannot stack it so we get more than 6 turns to do things though. It's dumb but hey its there.



So, this fight itself isn't particularly interesting. These Ghouls have 30 HP which sounds like a lot when you look at this 8 damage don't it?



Physical skills deal a bit more damage than regular attacks and even have added affects sometimes. This one poisons things occasionally, for example. Of course, being a physical skill it costs HP to use.



When a damage figure appears in red like this, it means they've got 25% HP or less left.



Also unlike some other games in the series, here poison can totally kill dudes. It just killed that left Ghoul, for example.



But, just stabbing dudes with our blade arms is remarkably ineffective. Lets have Serph cast Bufu, our only offensive spell, and deal 2/3rds a dudes HP in one go.

Their weakness is Fire. We don't have Fire spells yet.

spoiler heat, the guy whose name is fire and atma avatar is the god of fire, will learn agi before anyone else



So, yeah. That's the rough gist of combat. 20 EXP is exactly enough to give Serph a level up and no one else. Argilla needed 21 and Heat 24.

Those purple bars on the right are for something we'll learn more about in a future update. For now, just know that they fill up after every fight and something good happens when finished. Argilla's won't go up here, nor for this entire trip through Svadhisthana. There's a reason for that.


Level Up



Serph, being the main character and all, has no fixed level up patterns. We pick what goes up and when. These are all mostly self-explanatory but:

St = Strength = Physical damage dealt. Not that amazing in the early-early game, but picks up steam eventually and becomes worth using later.
Vi = Vitality = determines your max HP and acts as defense against physical skills. Very handy indeed.
Ma = Magic = imagine if Strength and Vitality were one stat. This is that. It determines max MP, magic damage dealt and defense against magical skills. Insanely handy.
Ag = Agility = unlike most games, this doesn't determine how fast you get turns or who goes when or anything like that. No, this is solely for evasion and accuracy. Worth getting because every attack can be dodged! Magic's hitrate is based on both Agility and Magic (the stat) though. I usually ignore my own advice because, uh...
Lu = Luck = because I am an idiot, I always use Luck as my dump stat. It affects how often you get critical hits, how often things drop after a battle and... your resistance against status ailments. Don't be me. Don't leave it at three.



Since we're in the early game, nothing uses ailments worth worrying over. Plus we're not exactly liable to miss anytime soon either. I focus on Vi/Ma for the entirety of Svadhisthana just to give boost in offense and defense while working on other stuff later when it becomes more important.

Oh, and those bars seem awful small don't they? Well, that's because 5 is not a little over 10% to a maxed stat. No, it's actually closer to 5% exact. Stat caps here aren't 40, but rather 99. With 294 stat points available, normally, capping what you'd consider the important stuff is harder than it sounds. That means there's just enough leeway to get 3 maxed, but only if you neglect the other 2. That is a very bad idea!

so its a good thing you can max out every stat for every character if you love grinding that much

not doing that because its sooo dumb and tedious and i did when i was 15 its not worth it



Oh and sometimes when you level up, you get these messages. There's four possibilities for things that can happen at this point.



It's completely random if you get one or not, and then its random which one you do get. That Serph restored his MP is a nice bonus, nothing more.


Silence



Be Fed Up

No, I... I can't eat them. I can't eat them.
Why do you hesitate? Circumstance are different now.



I know it's not quite what he means, but I love the implication here that they never ate before the Atma stuff happened and they became cannibals. Like, regular food just straight up doesn't exist despite the fact that we're carrying around a bunch of Rations.

End

Hideout of the Chickens



After the battle, their HP will recover slightly because they consumed their enemies.

This is also why we gained Atma Points and Argilla didn't by the way. Eating our enemies is where those came from.

Amount of HP restored after a fight is around 10% of your maximum. It's pretty handy, at times.




Sweet fluid dripping from a torn throat... splattering as I sink my teeth into rich flesh...
This is a good sensation.

Heat, you're a weird guy. You know that, right?



So anyway, let's chase after Harley and ask him what he knows. That door leads onwards into the base. The stairs?



Lead nowhere, really. You probably saw one of those items when we were in the room we just fought the ghouls in. Considering that, and the layout of the base... we can't get to them because they're past that blue wall. Makes me want to come back all the more.



Also now that we've beaten up some of Harley's men, we get random battles. Yay!


Hunting



Most fights at this stage are pretty uninteresting, really. Like these Onmorakis. They're, uh, level 1 and...



Cripplingly weak to ice. Lots of things here are, actually. Makes sense considering Serph's the only one with elemental spells at the moment.



Man if we fought these things first, Serph and Argilla would've both levelled up!



Since they're not Serph, we can't pick where Heat and Argilla's stats go. It's fine, they have general preferences anyway. Heat is transparently a punch dudes really hard kinda guy, which is fine with me.



Argilla is a little less clear at first, but she does eventually err towards spellcasting.



Since we're still upstairs, we can head into a different room that leads nowhere. We can see a dude on the other side, a switch and a ladder. Well, we can get to that ladder easy enough.



The door behind the stairs leads into this very same room. We already know there's a guy here, so it must be on about him.



Not really, it was Harley!


Raise the wall!



This isn't, strictly speaking, a particularly long area or anything. It just takes a bit longer than it should because Harley is a slow runner I guess, and we're always just behind him. Stuff like this is pretty common.



So now we backtrack upstairs to that room where there was a gap before. On the way there, we run into a couple Alps. Not very threatening, but they are worth noting for one reason:



No weaknesses. Oh and they can put us to sleep or heal I guess. Not much of an issue really.



Serph levels up again and gets another random bonus. This time his HP is restored.



It's not really a long stretch to this guy.



And he tells us about the voices in his head. We know, buddy. We've all got 'em now.

also he picks a fight with us


Hunting ~ Compulsion



Not really a hard fight either. Just exists to tutorial at us and tell us about weaknesses and stuff.



And wouldn't you know it, the Cockatrice just so happens to be weak to Ice. What luck!

we hit him with it again and he dies the end


Hideout of the Chickens



This switch isn't exactly needed to advance. The ladder puts us behind the wall, and lets us continue further in. Dropping the wall anyway though; it saves time if we have to come back here later.



We'll see what those things over in the corner are later. For now, we might as well head downstairs. Down there, is...



A red coloured wall. We'll be back for this one much later.



...There's a yellow wall down here too. That makes three coloured walls. We'll also be back for this one.



Next up, we run into a new demon. Pretas are weak to stuff that isn't Ice, so we can't poke them yet. They're not that resilient either way, though.



But they can delay the inevitable by using Zan on Argilla. Since she's transparently the Earth elemental person, she's weak to Force.



At Serph's next level up, he gets yet another random effect. This time, it heals HP, MP and cures all negatives statuses.



Much more importantly, though, is that down here there's a staircase we can reach.



It leads to a fight with a Slime in it. Slimes are mildly annoying, because they're weak to a ton of elements (Ice included). So how are they annoying?



They resist physicals. Swell. Heat is not the kinda guy who would deal 9 damage at this stage even with a regular attack.



Oh and the stairs really just lead to this outside area where we can get a free Soma Drop.



On the return trip, we ran into another Cockatrice. These guys have a fair bit of HP, a bunch of physical skills and can inflict Panic sometimes with Pulinpa. We'll worry about that whenever it happens though.

That weakness to Gun? Yeah, we'll be seeing that later in a more relevant setting.



Thanks to the Cockatrice, Heat was able to get his purple Atma bar filled and learn new skills.




In this case, Heat picked up a basic Fire spell of his own and... Void Fire. Void spells are very handy and Heat's will see a lot of use in due time.



For now, we'll head back upstairs inside the base proper. Here, we can check out the terminals now. Green glowing ones are Life Terminals and...



These things can get ungodly expensive later. They are the second biggest money sink in the game, by far, so its a good thing that they become less necessary after a point.

They cost 1 macca per HP restored and 3 macca per MP. That adds up really fast, especially at higher levels.



This and a Small Karma Terminal aren't placed where they are for nothing though. Right around the corner are these ladies. They immediately transform and attack us. Swell.


Hunting ~ Compulsion



These two Empusas are also part of the tutorial on press turns. They love casting Ice spells, and Serph's second spell by default is Void Ice.



Using it in this fight is wholly unnecessary, but I'll humour the game for now anyway.



Since we have Heat's Agi spell, we can just use that and have him oneshot them both without any issue. The game doesn't expect you to have this here for some reason.



But, yeah, Void spells grant complete immunity to their respective elements. This was worth an entire fight dedicated to it, which you could accidentally skip if you were at a decent strength.


Hideout of the Chickens



Those things now promptly dealt with, we can head through the door behind them.



And wouldn't you know it, Harley's there! He heads through a door to his left, rather than the one at the back.



We'll head through the one at the back and accidentally get an interface spoiler. Harvey went through a different door, but is on this path? Seems like a loop to me.

(and yes this is harley; the message wording makes it blatant)



On the way to our next real destination, I ran into these guys. That's only particularly interesting when you know they're not exactly common.



Weak to ice though. They have 21 HP so that one just got doubled.



Mou-Ryos are really not threatening at all. Can Void Fire as a spell because they sometimes turn up with other stuff. Ice makes sense for their own use though. Best to drop fast because that Maragi might go off and hit Serph's weakness!



...Okay now I'm officially overpowered for this dungeon. Serph getting his ??? mastered at this stage is not A Thing usually. But the encounter rate is quite high so it's possible I guess.



Devour is the first of many very useful skills. We don't need it right now, because we can't benefit from it. Defeat an enemy with it, and Serph chows down right then and there and gains a lot more Atma than you would from just beating 'em normally. Very handy for mastering new skills faster.

Hell Thrust is just an upgraded physical attack. It deals a fair bit more damage and so is useful in the here and now. Damage increase is enough that its worth actually using sometimes even in later dungeons. Not particularly late game or anything, but hey. At least Argilla won't be completely useless against magic resistant enemies if she gets it.



Near that second door we didn't go through, there's some stairs leading upwards. The upstairs area here has this strange golden thing floating. This contains items like the purple ones but with a difference.



They can only contain two types of items. This one is a new bullet. Bullets are never in purple chests, only ever gold ones.



Even though it won't be needed for a while, touch wood, Heat gets this one since it's thrice as powerful as the default one. It also has a fairly decent chance to inflict the Shock ailment (don't miss and get guaranteed crits with Physicals) which is a bit of a tradeoff but eh. It'll be fine right now.



In a different room upstairs, there's a switch we can flip.



This raises one wall and lowers another. Harley was about to go through the door we just sealed off, which leads to the room below us. If we didn't do this, then we would chase Harley in that loop forever and it would be boring.



Now we have to backtrack to this room where we ran into him last time. We can't get through the other door now, so we have to follow Harley's route.



It's a pretty linear path at this point, and eventually we run into him again. This time he heads through that door behind him.



That door leads to a small room with no other exit. Harley is now cornered, and there's a Life and Small Karma terminal just outside it.

There's also this ladder leading to three items.



This deals a small amount of ice damage to every enemy. Empusas can rarely drop them, but they're not worth farming. When I say a small amount, I mean a small amount.



The other good item down here is this Revival Gem. It revives one party member with full HP. Holding onto this for a long while, I reckon.

There's also a single Chakra Drop down here.



That's enough of that, though. Let's step into Harley's office and see what he knows.


A Cornered Harley



Harley, tell us what's going on!



Burning Stake



Why don't you know?



Looks like Heat's Atma brand is taking control here...

Answer me, Harley.

Silence



...Thrice in one dungeon?

This is going to be a recurring thing, isn't it?


Please... I really don't know...



Yeesh, poor Harley. Guy's had a rough day. First we kill and eat his men. Then we storm his base, kill and eat more of his men. Give him a panic attack, chase him through the building, then corner him. Heat chokes him while angrily yelling for info about the black-haired girl. Then when he doesn't give the right answer, Harley gets thrown into the window.

Be Fed Up
okay so this isnt *quite* what plays here. what really does isn't on the ost and this is close enough.



Needless to say, Harley's finally been pushed past his limit.



That was the last straw, and he's done taking our poo poo. Dude's found his balls and is finally using his Atma Avatar to take us on.



Well if it's a fight he wants, then it's a colossal embarassment he will receive!


Boss: Asura Hayagriva

Big Battle



Hayagriva, fittingly enough, is an Avatar of Vishnu. He's one of the forms used by Vishnu whenever he feels like chilling on Earth. His name even means horse neck, in Sanskrit, which fits his appearance pretty well.



Combat-wise, he's a bit more resilient than we may be used to with having 600 HP. Besides that, though, he's a complete pushover. Serph can take advantage of his gigantic Ice weakness without any issue, and give us 5 attacks to his measly one every single round.

Yeah, yeah, he's the first boss so he's not meant to be hard I get that. But even his footsoldiers are better than he is. Presumably the second biggest reason they haven't banded together and had a mutiny already is because Hayagriva has a trick up his sleeve.



Heat's priority here is to get Void Fires up every single turn. You have no way of knowing this at first, but Hayagriva is actually the perfect enemy for this spell despite its seemingly situational uses.

Because, as luck would have it, Hayagriva is probably the most predictable enemy ever.



To give us plenty of turns in the first go around, Argilla's using that Ice Blast to give us a functional full 6 turns.



The damage is less than impressive though. I guess it doesn't take stats into account because that's way worse than Serph's Bufus.



When not putting up Void Fires, Heat's best method of attacking here is using his Mad Rush skill. It can deal the most damage out of every physical attack at the moment. Problem is it's random; it might hit twice. It might hit once. Kind of a coin flip.

If you prefer consistency, then yeah, Venom Claw is better for that. Decent damage for a lesser cost. The poison won't work though; Hayagriva is immune to ailments.



Well, it doesn't outdamage a critical hit but those aren't overly common so even with its relative randomness, Mad Rush is more consistent.



Man, its rare to see Hayagriva use a physical attack. That like almost never happens, especially not at this stage.



Normally, for the first half of the fight he will basically only ever use Skewer. This is a single-target attack and...



It deals Fire damage. So long as you keep up the Void Fires, you should never get hurt here. Bizarre errant regular Attacks notwithstanding.



Once he drops to around half HP, his pattern changes up a bit.



He'll now spend some time to make it so we can't Bufu him into oblivion. So we just get 3 turns whenever he does this. No big deal.



Instead, Serph can use regular physical atta- ahaha no, use Hell Thrust. If you don't have it, then use regular physical attacks.



Heat still Void Fires though. This is even more important now.



Rather than use Skewer, Hayagriva brings out his big gun and throws a Fire Storm at us. As the name implies this also deals Fire elemental damage.



Frankly, if he never gave us the chance to pick up Void Fire he would win. Because he ran away like a coward, he created a self-fulfilling prophecy and had reason to be scared. Funny that.

At this point he kind of alternates between Void Ice and Fire Storm. I still have Heat use Void Fire when I expect Hayagriva'll use Void Ice though. Just as a precaution; the one time I didn't, he snuck a Skewer in and aimed it at Serph.



Despite being a boss, Hayagriva is totally able to be Frozen. This makes it so that every attack that connects is guaranteed to be a critical hit. It also has an extra edge over Shock in that whenever he remains frozen, his innate resistances are removed. No resistances, nullifications, drains or reflections allowed in this state!



In this case, it happened just in time for the crit to be the final blow needed to win.



Hayagriva is a complete chump and feels supremely out of place. Later bosses are not this rote and simple. Nor are they even half as forgiving of stupid mistakes.



Does give pretty decent Karma and a nice chunk of Macca though. Guaranteed Soma Drop isn't too shabby either.

Would give more than enough Atma for Serph to pick up Devour and Hell Thrust now, but he already had them here because I didn't run from anything.


Silence



Harley didn't know anything. Let's get out of here.



Serph, we must get back to the base.

End

Argilla is completely right. We will head back to Muladhara and consider our next course of action. Next time, I mean.

In the meantime, for a more traditional Hayagriva fight that doesn't involve Hell Thrust and being probably overlevelled? You can find one here; it features him using Skewer, what happens when you Analyze a boss and a mistake on my part and everything.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Void skills, by the way, are why Hama and Mudo aren't really that much of an issue in this game as long as you know they're coming. You can just get someone Void Dark and then roll that up an their efforts to Mamudo you will turn into nothing but sadness on their part.

Drakenel
Dec 2, 2008

The glow is a guide, my friend. Though it falls to you to avert catastrophe, you will never fight alone.

Pushed to the limit harley becomes a furry.

Ok.

I admit the whole cannibal angle is intriguing. Messily devouring your foes is something not used that often for sentient characters, and had a greater chance at being disturbing for it than some 'rar I'm a mindless beast om nom nom'

theshim
May 1, 2012

You think you can defeat ME, Ephraimcopter?!?

You couldn't even beat Assassincopter!!!


We've time to go before we get to the really good stuff, but even early on DDS has some spectacular music. Hunting - Compulsion and Svadhisthana are both great.

Kemix
Dec 1, 2013

Because change


Oh sweet, another LP right after the Devil Survivor 2 LP! I'ma keep my eye on this!

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


theshim posted:

We've time to go before we get to the really good stuff, but even early on DDS has some spectacular music. Hunting - Compulsion and Svadhisthana are both great.

Yeah, I've mentioned it before but I really can't gush enough about the music of DDS. It is so good.

Keldulas
Mar 18, 2009


Huh, I was totally expecting Harley to become a party member at some point. Color me surprised.

Quite interesting that they start the protagonists off with cannibalism.

Speedball
Apr 15, 2008



Thing to note is that Harley, Heat and Serph all have "retractable" weapons in their demon forms. Serph's arm blades fold into his arms, of course, but Heat's claws extend outward before every physical strike, and Harley's unicorn horn is more like a folding switchblade that goes "ka-klick!" Argilla's whip arm coils itself back into a normal arm, too, so she also counts.

The main characters and the boss demons have...pretty interesting designs.

Ubiquitous_
Nov 20, 2013

by Reene


Keldulas posted:

Huh, I was totally expecting Harley to become a party member at some point. Color me surprised.

Quite interesting that they start the protagonists off with cannibalism.

I think the game cleverly backsteps from "real" cannibalism for the most part by making them just eat their demon forms instead. It does surprise me how little controversy this game and its sequel had.

This LP makes me wish someone was doing an SMT: Nocturne one as well.

Ubiquitous_ fucked around with this message at 05:49 on Aug 26, 2014

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Dragonatrix, since they basically amount to trivia and I'm pretty sure the names never come up in the plot would you mind it if I briefly discussed the Atma marks as we see them (so Serph's, Argilla's, Heat's, and Harley's for now)?

Seyser Koze
Dec 15, 2013


Nap Ghost

Ubiquitous_ posted:

I think the game cleverly backsteps from "real" cannibalism for the most part by making them just eat their demon forms instead. It does surprise me how little controversy this game and its sequel had.

People have to notice something exists for it to become controversial.

CmdrKing
Oct 14, 2012

Maybe if I called it 'Interpretive Stabbing'...

Seyser Koze posted:

People have to notice something exists for it to become controversial.

I figure people are too busy bashing other poo poo to hate on SMT nowadays. I mean, the NEXT SMT-affilited game gave you the literal, no bullshit ability to shoot yourself in the head and summon Satan, so if that didn't get any attention nothing DDS could do would make waves.

Kaboom Dragoon
May 7, 2010

The greatest of feasts



CmdrKing posted:

I figure people are too busy bashing other poo poo to hate on SMT nowadays. I mean, the NEXT SMT-affilited game gave you the literal, no bullshit ability to shoot yourself in the head and summon Satan, so if that didn't get any attention nothing DDS could do would make waves.

I remember joking when Persona 2 first came out that if anyone past RPG fans had paid any attention to the game, it would be on every news channel across America. There's barely a single game in the franchise as a whole that doesn't include murder, devil worship/summoning, Satan...

Glazius
Jul 22, 2007

Hail all those who are able,
any mouse can,
any mouse will,
but the Guard prevail.



Clapping Larry

Does Argilla's demon form actually have a normal mouth, or just those two?

The Watercrown
Feb 10, 2014

We Shall Become Gods

We Shall Become Gods

WE SHALL ALL DIE AND BECOME AS GODS


Glazius posted:

Does Argilla's demon form actually have a normal mouth, or just those two?

Prithivi does indeed only have mouths on her breasts. You'll come to see a lot of non-standard bodies in this game.

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MythLisp
Feb 13, 2012

"God, I wish I was dead!"


Just to point out, Serph's eyes were the first to change colour and get pupils, just after the the egg explosion or so. It's just not that noticeable from the grey turning to a dull blue.

Both the Digital Devil Saga games are so deliciously dark in tone and probably my favourite spinoffs of the MegaTen franchise. It was a welcome change from the upbeat "Let's save the world guys!" storylines that majority of the jrpgs had at the time.

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