Strategy Session – Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor, Part II

With more than sixty passive abilities and fifty active commands, Devil Survivor offers a heckuva lot of room to maneuver when it comes to character customization. But what to use? This week, we’ll take a look at some useful skills and the combinations that players can piece together.

As one might expect for a game whose combat system revolves around exploiting elemental weaknesses, the basic elemental spells to be found in Devil Survivor are some of the most broadly useful in the entire game. One set that stands apart, however is the Dance class of spells, which includes not only elemental skills like Fire Dance, but also non-elemental spells and even some physical attacks. Rather than hitting a specific target or set of targets, these spells randomly select and hit between two and five targets in the enemy party. This does mean that you’ll need to be a bit careful how you use them, especially later in the game when the computer starts paring demons who are weak to a specific element with allies who absorb or reflect that element, but Dance spells prove useful even then. By removing the main demon’s allies first, the Dance spell will simply hit whoever’s left 2 to 5 times, adding up to some truly spectacular damage. With a little luck and a little foresight, these spells can save you whole combat rounds.

Some of the most powerful passive skills in the game have to do with granting the player extra turns in combat. The two major ones are Extra One and Dual Shadow. Extra One is a very simple passive ability which automatically grants the extra turn which is usually only acquired by hitting an elemental resistance. Extra One is most useful on a physically-oriented character, as there are precious few enemies in the game weak to physical attacks. Most mage-type characters are better off simply carrying an extra elemental spell, which provides benefits not only in better type coverage but also better damage overall. Dual Shadow, on the other hand, grants any character a fair probability of repeating their action a second time in the same combat turn. This is especially powerful when combined with Holy Dance, a Dance-class spell that causes Almighty damage, but whose damage calculation usually results in slightly lower damage than its elemental bretheren. As with Extra One, Dual Shadow is a little more useful on physical characters than on magic-oriented characters, but both types make strong use of this ability.

The vast majority of passive skills the player can unlock using the Skill Crack system tend to be elementally focused. There are twelve skills dedicated towards improving elemental offense, and no fewer than twenty two skills for elemental defense. Needless to say, there are a few that stand out, and the big one is Anti-Most. Anti-Most condenses about half of the elemental defense skills down to a single skill slot, granting the player half damage from everything but physical attacks. The strongest combination for Anti-Most is with Phys Repel, which does exactly what it says on the tin: reflects physical attacks back at their user. Some players prefer Phys Absorb, but Pierce causes major problems with this combination. Pierce is a passive skill which allows physical attacks to ignore most defensive abilities, including Phys Absorb. Phys Repel is the only passive physical defense ability that will stop Pierce dead in its tracks, so it gets the nod here.

These skills can form the basis of an extremely powerful set of characters, though there is a major drawback. Humans all draw their skills from the same pool, meaning you can’t have two human characters with Extra One, or two characters with Ice Dance. Because of this, it’s pretty much essential to develop characters with unique combat roles, so that you don’t end up, for example, making Atsuro just a less-powerful version of your main character. Demons, however, are another matter entirely. By using Mitama Fusion (the mechanics of which remain the same for Devil Survivor as they were for Devil Summoner 2, the details of which can be read here) to spread certain abilities around, it’s fairly simple to create multiple demons with extremely similar skillsets. The only real impediment is the sheer cost of purchasing demons at auction.

At any rate, those are the basics. There are other powerful skills that players can make use of in Devil Survivor, many of which require far more intricate combinations of active and passive skills, so using a bit of creativity and lateral thinking will take you far.

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