Dx2 Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Review

I have spent three days playing this game non-stop, partly out of boredom due to COVID-19 still being a potential problem in my local area despite the lifting restrictions (for instance, it is still required to wear a mask when going to places or you’ll be kicked out), partly out of irritability from lack of anything engaging to take my time, and my own dwindling motivation for writing a novel since progress has been a snail’s pace. I think this game really hits the instant gratification with so many rewards present on various questlines.

I was initially skeptical about this mobile game, because of the notorious reputation that mobile games have of the pay to win formula that often behaves like scams. I had highly anticipated such behavior from Dx2 SMT Liberation, but I was blown away at how much free content is available to play through. I have never been so happy to be wrong in my life. There’s so much that I feel remiss on how to explain it all. From Aura Gates dungeon, to Hell Park, to the main story mode, the special events such as the current Berserk event, Dx2 Character quests, and much more. Most of the content has around 8 – 16 questlines of missions on average. Voluminous wouldn’t even being to describe the amount of free content and questlines that this game has. The amount of stuff you can do to increase the power of your demons from Brands to increase Stats for your party, to skill transfers, evolution to increase the level limits, and so on. This game is just amazing with the amount of content that it gives players and the free actions that you can do. I played through three days straight without ever encountering a Pay-to-win scheme to hinder my progress. The games actions work by acquiring stamina, which you’ll typically have an overabundance of every day that you’re beating new questlines to the point that limiting your actions is a non-factor that is highly unlikely to ever happen.

I got back into this game partly because of the Berserk event I had found out about upon accidentally clicking it one day and acquired Guts from Berserk from the Gift box as a usable character to fight in my party alongside the demons you can summon or fuse. I had initially thought that the 10 MP limit was lame, but the way the game has designed itself around that is brilliant. MP keeps recharging during press-turn battle events so you can use high-level skills and just wait to recharge while getting skills and special bonuses that recharge your MP faster or decrease the costs of using MP. Skills like Life aid and Mana Aid which were only good for early game or otherwise totally worthless in previous MegaTen games are now critically useful and arguably broken beyond belief, if you know what strategies to use. The gameplay comes with an auto-feature and increase speed feature to make it even more fast-paced and an auto-grinding system that you can select options on how to use for those who have issues with grinding for late-game content. Moreover, the summoning system allows you to gain level 4 or 5 star demons such as Beelzebub and for the current event Yoshitsune which are both fun and invaluable for late-game content and it is probably best to use as many summon items to get level 5 demons, because they’re a blast to use and much cheaper and easier to acquire than by the game’s fusion system. All demons start at level one and are level capped to their particular “star” branch. For example, I couldn’t grind my Lilim past level 35 as she’s a 3 star demon, but I could grind my 5 star demons like Beelzebub or Astarte up to the highest stat of level 45 and then use the evolve system to break their level cap limit up to the current level 50 as of this writing.

Overall, I highly recommend playing this game if you want to enjoy a good mobile experience and an SMT game. I was initially sad over the prospect of MegaTen never having side-games like Devil Survivor, the Raidou games, DDS, and so on, but this game really disproved that notion. There’s definitely a lot of heart and care for this game. Yet, I should list the negatives for people interested in going into this game:

The number one worst thing about this game, and what made me initially drop it, is the godawful and idiotic tutorial system where literally every minutiae is given a tutorial to hold the player’s hands in slow, text heavy, explanations that I honestly found myself skipping over by rapidly clicking since I got so bored with them. The game’s attempt at explaining every single little detail in excruciatingly lengthy dialogue with shitty quibbles had the opposite effect on me. I don’t get interested in reading more of the details, I just start clicking until it is over and playing around with the new mode after ignoring the tutorial. I know that sounds stupid, but they just kept throwing these stupid tutorials repeatedly at the player; I just can’t focus and pay attention to all of it. It’s like they dumped a bunch of homework along with the fun and I just skip the homework so I can get to the fun. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s every little thing that is given a tutorial, it breaks immersion from the game after awhile, and it was what originally made me drop the game because I got so annoyed by the consistency of the boring tutorials. Lastly, the news function whenever you login comes with the Store Owner character asking if you want to purchase some content with real money. You can always click it off from the x tab and you are never required to pay to continue playing judging from my experience, but it’s like an annoying temporary commercial that you have to always click off before continuing the game whenever you login.

The second worst aspect, if you care about it, is that the fusion system is completely worthless in this game. You get high-ranking level 4 and 5 demons faster with the summoning system that don’t have a prerequisite of needing to beat the first Aura Gate to acquire them. If the exorbitant cost of macca for creating a powerful fusion wasn’t enough (don’t worry, you don’t need to pay real money to create a fusion, I just mean the in-game Macca), then limiting the fusions to the archetype of “normal” types only made it completely worthless by design. In this game, each demon can come in one of four types and each type slightly changes the demon’s moveset for the two “transferable skills” in their moveset. However, only one type of demon – the normal type of the four possibilities that every demon can become – is the only one that can be used in fusion. So why use fusions like multi-fusion to make party members like Parvati or Kartikeya which’ll cause me to basically run out of all my Macca due to its costs when I have a better chance of getting a Level 5 Yoshitsune or even a level 4 Beelzebub from the Randomness of the Summoning system? The quickest way to get the “normal” type of demon is by talking to them in battle whenever the talk bubble is displayed in battle, but this adds to the reason why the fusion system is worthless in this game. If I can’t even use the demons that are needed as fusion materials unless it is from randomly being able to talk to that specific demon to use for fusion instead of the randomly summoned ones that are a different variant, then it is much quicker, easier, less costly, and far more beneficial for me in the long run to just keep randomly summoning by using the various summoning items to get a level 4 or 5 demon to use in my party. Fusion is thereby totally obsolete and a hindrance compared to just using the randomized summoning system since I can acquire the items to summon much quicker and easier by doing particular questline missions or special events. To top it all off, there’s no macca cost in doing those questlines to acquire summoning items like there is with the fusion system.

Finally, you should probably play this game for the gameplay and stat-boosting of your party members, and definitely not for the story. It doesn’t even feel like an SMT story. It feels like a Devil Survivor fanfiction story with no apocalyptic focus during the main 6 chapters, no payoff for your alignment choices since apparently choosing Chaos just gets you an early bad ending while Law and Normal are just a generic anime hero saves the day story, and it doesn’t really have the SMT atmosphere. For me, I’m not quite sure if the writers of this game even thought through a story after playing Chapter 7 Alter (the Early bad ending which I got for picking the Chaos choices). People compared Chapter 7 Alter to the Anarchy route of SMTIV Apocalypse, but that doesn’t really fit and it doesn’t follow logically from Mainline SMT’s general themes. Mainline SMT games always had you fighting, and killing, your former comrades even in the Neutral routes. From SMT1 onwards, you use to have former teammates and then by the end your ideological differences resulted in you fighting to the death over your alignment differences. SMTIV Apocalypse’s Bonds route is actually the oddity that doesn’t follow this norm when it comes to Mainline SMT games. Dx2’s story feels like they could have serious moments like the Main Character’s prologue chapters, but then they pull a Devil Survivor spin, by removing the entire conflict through some convoluted plot elements or simply revealing the entire confrontation to be a farce. I suspect they did this because of the prospect of kids playing the game, even if the game’s content discusses serious material like people attempting to make real life snuff films, drug use, and illegal fighting clubs where the winner can do whatever they want to the beaten victim. I don’t believe the story is a complete trainwreck, but a lot of it feels as if they didn’t put in effort beyond the initial concepts. Now, I don’t have a problem with this because it is a free mobile game and I’m personally biased in viewing mobile games as inferior to console and handheld games. I don’t expect much in the way of quality storytelling from a mobile game and especially not a free one, so given that this is a free mobile game, I am quite happy with the half-assed story as it is. However, I must remind readers that this is because I had no expectations of quality for mobile games that aren’t ports of handheld games and this is a free game. So, I don’t have any issues with this last drawback on a personal level, but I felt it was important to note for potential players.

For a mobile gaming experience, I’d rate this as 4.7/5 thus far. The game is continuing with new content every month and I’m very excited to do the Berserk chapters. I don’t play for drop rates for special demons or items and mainly play for fun, so this game has been very exciting and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a fun mobile experience or for a MegaTen / SMT-style side game to play.

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